I’ve been creating & crafting in so many ways since I can remember. As a kid every year I’d enter my arts & crafts in as many Children’s Tent categories as I could at the local summer fair. Painting, baking, pottery, lego, floral displays and more. While it was always great to win a prize (pocket money to spend on sweets & the tombola!) the best bit was having the excuse to create so many different things all at once. I was up for giving anything a go. Being creative runs through my veins.
I was a teen when Pixar’s Toy Story was released. I fell in love with everything about computer animation, plus it seemed to be the route to a career that could tick both the creative and “sensible” boxes. So I thought all my dreams were coming true when I was selected to study at the National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA). Then halfway through my degree I realised it really wasn’t in my personality to sit in front of a computer for weeks to make a few seconds of animation. Once I’d finished my degree, and because I’d fallen into the trap of believing “art isn’t a real job”, instead of exploring other creative career options I abandoned my inner creative and went down the route of finding a “proper career”.
Like so many people, as I headed into my twenties, the rest of life took over and creative fun became an afterthought that I squeezed in where I could, and sometimes was completely pushed to the side for whole chunks of time.
That was until I returned to work after maternity leave in 2016. Juggling a small person and almost full-time job, it felt harder than ever to make time for creative stuff, but it also felt important. I started by find a way to read fiction again regularly to help me wind down. Then I built up to writing almost every day, even if just for a couple of minutes. Although I still wasn’t doing ALL the creative and crafty things I love (which would probably be an impossibility even with all the time in the world) it felt really good to be doing something.
Then two years later my world started falling apart. My health collapsed, which was connected to issues with work, and the following year I suddenly and unexpectedly lost my wonderful niece. All of it together left me feeling like I didn’t know who I was any more or what I wanted in life. By spring 2020 I was living with chronic health issues, had lost my career, was grieving and then the pandemic hit. While I wasn’t sure of much in my life, regular creativity played a big part in helping me to keep putting one foot in front of the other and make it through the worst of it all.
I turned to watercolours, embraced embroidery and then started to find comfort and confidence in illustration and pattern design. It felt like I’d started to find myself again, and so I started slowly taking steps in that direction.
However, even after switching back to a creative career, regularly prioritising time for the actual creative side of things was STILL a challenge in between all the admin, marketing and other business stuff. Not to mention finding ways that my ADHD brain would be happy to engage!
But I also knew that a few years earlier, when I’d been trying to juggle the mumming, a stressful 9-5 and the start of my chronic health conditions, that it felt so good to have a tiny bit of creative joy in most of my days. I went back to the tools that had worked then, added in #The100DayProject and launched a membership, where I would need to create a new design every month. Being aware of what worked well for me, I started to find ways to make sure creativity was part of my every day – however small.
What has become clear to me over the past few years is just how important regular creativity is for my health. It’s not a magic bullet that delivers instant happiness, and it hasn’t magically cured my chronic conditions, but it does calm my anxiety and massively helps me keep putting one foot in front of the other when things get really tough.
For many of us life isn’t getting any easier, and it’s more important than ever to find moments of joy that help fuel us to get through the more challenging parts of life. But because things are so challenging, overwhelming and exhausting at times, it’s so important that making regular time for creative joy in a way that is doable for where we’re at right now. It’s about making it as easy as possible to enjoy something creative when you can, even when you only have a couple of minutes.
And that’s where this little guide has come from. It’s about recognising how important creative joy can be in our life and our health, while also acknowledging what makes it’s more important then ever, also makes it more challenging than ever for some of us to make regular time for it.
I hope you enjoy The little book of Easy Creativity and come out of the other side inspired to – and feeling able to – make a little more time for creative joy in your life!