Doodling as self-defense? WTF?
Read or listen and it will all become clear…
(Plus: free stuff inside!)
I share artworks in progress on social media, and on my blog here (and you can get art in your inbox by subscribing to my ArtSpark Newsletter), but the most efficient way to see a whole bunch of what I’ve been up to lately in one glance is on Instagram.
If you visit my Instagram profile right now, you’ll notice a distinct lack of color. I’ve been playing almost exclusively in black and white since the start of the year, doodling for fifteen or twenty minutes — or even longer — in bed every morning.
I started doing this practice as a form of self-defense: I needed a way to help ensure I’d get at least a little Creative Sandbox playtime in each day.
For a long time I was getting my art-making time in first thing after finishing my morning ritual. But then back in September my morning ritual changed: I added a daily workout to the stack of activities, which made the whole routine so long that once I’m done with my exercise, I’m really anxious to get to work already.
It was all too easy to bypass my art table and head straight to the computer, and once I’ve logged on, the day just runs away with me. The gravitational pull of my computer throws everything else off its axis, and I was noticing, to my chagrin, that my Creative Sandbox time was getting lost in the shuffle.
Not good… Something had to change.
I wasn’t willing to give up my workout, and I know from past experience that if I don’t do my workout early in the day, it is way less likely to happen. But with the workouts pushing my whole day back by an hour, it wasn’t working to try and squeeze creative play into my afternoon or evening.
As I always say: the thing I do first is the thing that gets done! (Click to tweet.)
It seemed pretty clear that I had to find a way to officially integrate my Creative Sandbox time into the stack of activities that make up my morning ritual.
The question was, how?
My morning ritual time is kind of like an airlock chamber. As long as I’m still inside my bedroom, it’s as if the work day hasn’t really started yet. Even if I’ve been writing work-related things in my journal, there’s just a feeling that this space, this time, is mine, is sacred.
So I decided to try an experiment.
I would see if I could build in some kind of creative, art-making practice that I could do before leaving my bedroom in the morning — without even leaving my bed. Naturally, this limited my choice of medium (at least if I didn’t want to get paint all over the sheets!), but limitations are the wellspring of creativity.
Besides, I’d been thinking for awhile about creating a coloring book. A lot of the paintings that I made in 2015 are essentially coloring pages on canvas or board, that I colored in myself with watercolor. Why not try a change of medium, intentionally stick with black and white for awhile, and see what would happen?
First, I’m developing a consistent daily practice that connects me to my creativity first thing in the morning, which makes me really happy.
Second, I’ve created several pieces of art that I really like — and which I think would work well as coloring pages.
(In fact, I just added a sample coloring page to my free Member Content Library. Click here to sign up and get it, and a whole bunch of other goodies.)
And most of all, this tiny and daily doodling practice has helped me see just how far I’ve come in my journey away from perfectionist paralysis and toward creative freedom over the past six years.
Just yesterday and today, for example, I found myself utterly delighted with what I was creating.
I literally laughed out loud at some of the shapes!
These are pure improvisation, and so much fun! They represent for me the amazing state of play, fun, delight, and joy that is the Creative Sandbox for me, and I am truly MARVELING that I am able to achieve this state in my art.
Honestly, I think the last time I experienced this level of freedom may have been all the way back in nursery school!
The six years that I’ve spent intentionally clearing out perfectionism and gremlins is paying off, big-time!
Oh, and not just in joy, either. I’ve been approached by people who are interested in using my intuitive art in a variety of different projects.
I won’t share details yet, because it’s all very up in the air still, and who knows where it will go, but the upshot is that I’m making art PURELY to please and delight MYSELF, and other people are also responding to it, which is like frosting on the cake.
Last week I was sharing in a Rally Call with my Creative Sandbox community members that it’s not that I don’t care about the outcome — I do care, very much; but I’m not worried about the outcome anymore.
What I, or anyone else, thinks about the outcome is no longer the driver for me, and that is hugely liberating.
It’s really kind of miraculous, actually, considering how incredibly stuck in judgment I used to be.
I’m still processing what it means to be in this place, but I wanted to share it with you, because it’s proof that you CAN reprogram perfectionism and judgey inner-critics and gremlins!!
I was so profoundly stuck for so long. I’ve worked hard for a long time years to take the wheel back from my gremlins. And though I’ve been creating much more freely for the past five or six years, the level of freedom, joy, and delight I’m getting now is the most it’s ever been.
We are amazingly plastic and elastic creatures. Whatever might be holding you back now does not have to hold you back forever.
Just the other day someone shared with me that she understands my Creative Sandbox Manifesto rules, but she just doesn’t feel able to let go and play. If that’s you, as well, I want to assure you that this is normal.
Most of us were programmed for years how not to play. It takes time, attention, and intention to release that programming.
For me, it was simply SETTING THE INTENTION and continuing to aim in that direction — using my Golden Formula every step of the way — that got me to this morning’s giggle fest.
If you’re not there yet, don’t worry — you can get there, too.
Self-awareness + self-compassion = the key to everything good! (Click to tweet.)
Resources from this Episode
My ArtSpark Newsletter (get new art in your inbox!)
My Instagram profile: @a_creative_life
My year-long tiny and daily writing practice, 3x5x365
Get my free coloring page (and a bunch of other goodies) by joining my free Member Content Library.
Dr. Kristin Neff, the world’s foremost researcher in self-compassion, and the author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself (affiliate link).
Thanks for Listening!
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Now go get creating!
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