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Conversations about Creativity with Emily

April 27, 2015


Creativity | The Orange Slate

On Monday mornings around here, I interview people who inspire me. In April and May, the theme is CREATIVITY and there are just a few more really wonderful interviews to come. But for today, I’m going to tackle the questions myself.

Have you always thought of yourself as a creative?

Yes and no. I’ve always loved to create with words. And as a pianist, I’ve always felt like music was tightly connected to creativity. But it wasn’t until the last few years that I saw creating as a broader brush (pun totally intended) that could apply to every facet of my life. Also, despite all of the art lessons my mom tirelessly signed me up for, I’m not the most talented with visual media.

So it’s taken me a while to get brave enough to experiment and stretch in this area, because I know that what I produce doesn’t hold to candle to what other can do. But when I started to think about creativity as something that is good for me, something that is good to practice no matter what the result, I started to be more intentional about trying things and creating, even with imperfect results.

What are your creative outlets?

Writing. This blog. Photography. Different memory-keeping projects. Also, motherhood. I think we talk a lot about how one needs outlets from motherhood (and this is true!), but few people told me how much motherhood itself would become an outlet of sorts for me to be creative. With a growing baby, I am constantly on the lookout for new projects, new games, new ways to play, new ways to help Miles experience the world. My sensory board project was a moment of realization for me – that Miles and I can actually enjoy being creative together. As he gets older I think these kind of experiences will only get better and richer.

Everyone is so busy! How do you make time to be creative?

It would be disingenuous to say that this isn’t really tough. I’m sure it’s tougher for others, but it gets a little crazy around here sometimes – Mark is in school full-time, we both work part-time, and of course we both want to spend as much time as we can with Miles. I try to be disciplined about things that I really want to do. I blog regularly, in part, because of this. If I don’t make a steady habit of it, it won’t happen. I try to commit to projects like CREATE2015 to help inspire myself to try things. I make time to organize my week and if there isn’t enough time for everything, I prioritize and toss to-dos or get up earlier. Some weeks, I feel more tired than creative. But simply being intentional and goalsetting and continuing to work towards carving out time for creativity is a huge part of the battle, I think.

Who inspires you?

Miles and Mark, for sure. Mark is always such a supportive cheerleader, however random and far-fetched my projects. Watching the pure joy of Miles as he experiences life and discovers his world is inspiring – I feel as if I’m rediscovering the world. Bloggers, chefs, entrepreneurs, and artists who have been intentional about their dreams and successful at reaching their goals inspire me. Authors, from now and decades and centuries past are always a source of inspiration.

What do you do when you’re in a creative rut?

I feel like I experience more creative walls than ruts. By that, I mean that I tend towards perfectionism and organization, so sometimes an abundance of possibilities and options overwhelms me to the point of paralysis. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled out a huge pile of pictures only to stare at them in helplessness and just pile them back in the box. Sometimes searching for inspiration from others (Pinterest!) on a similar project helps. But really, it’s normally more beneficial for me just to take a break, go outside, play a game with Miles, read, cook dinner, and revisit the project when I’m in a better frame of mind or have a clearer vision.

 Why do you think it’s important to make time for creativity?

So much of our sense of purpose and meaning is tangled up in creativity. I think God has put these enormous wells of creativity into each of us and – if we’d only be brave enough to let it out of the box a little, in whatever way that looks for our careers or hobbies or families – we’d be amazed at the results. One of my favorite quotes is by Dorothy Sayers: “It is our task to rebuild the world along creative lines.” I think continually creating is part of what redeems us and our world.

What are ways you’ve challenged yourself or grown as a creative?

I’m trying to allow myself to try projects (especially things that fall under that “traditional crafting” umbrella) that I used to just assume were for people who were far more talented than me. Projects like painting lyrics on canvas (ridiculous example, I know) are just so intimidating to me and I realize I’m probably missing out on a lot of fun. So I’m trying to challenge myself to try projects that I know I won’t be succeed at on the first try or that might take practice. I’m also trying to practice just executing. I act as though there’s some kind of bar out there that my memory-keeping or projects have to hit and I intimidate myself with grand illusions and then never start. I’d be better off just starting and (even finishing) something that’s not perfect but that is done. So I’m challenging myself to just execute more this year.

What are some creative goals you have for yourself?

I would love to complete our wedding album and Miles’ 1-year album in the next year. I think one of my Goals with a capital G is to learn how to build a family life and home that encourages and embraces creativity for Mark and me and Miles in an authentic way, even if current schedules and routines don’t allow for crafting or memory-keeping or whatever we brand traditionally as “creative pursuits”. Even if that just looks like time for reflection, imagination, creative thinking, reading or growing a tiny potted garden, then I want to embrace and cultivate that space.

Check out the other interviews in this series with KatieLindsay, Monica, and Gwen.

And for more practical encouragement on incorporating creativity into your schedule (especially a schedule involving small children), check out the wonderful book by Amanda Blake Soule (of SouleMamaThe Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections.


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