It’s happened to me a hundred times. I have a block of time I can use for my creative pursuits. An hour, an afternoon. I’ve looked forward to this time all day. But when it comes time to sit down and start, I hesitate.
The thinking machine starts running… I find that I can’t sit still.
Questions run through my mind…
- Should I draw something in my sketchbook?
- Learn a new doodle pattern?
- Watch a painting video?
- Setup my easel to practice my painting?
- What should I draw or paint?
- What paper should I use?
In the past, I would let thoughts like this overwhelm me. I’d suddenly have the urge to get the dishes done or check my email. Then I’d fritter that hour or that afternoon away and chide myself for wasting that time.
But now I realize what’s really going on. I’m not lazy, unfocused or undisciplined. I’m simply uncertain. And that uncertainty creates resistance.
My logical mind attempts to calm that uncertain feeling by suggesting more practical options – options that have a predetermined outcome. An outcome that’s safe and certain. Thats why I suddenly want to do the dishes or organize my files. Anything to get away from this itchy, icky feeling of uncertainty.
Maybe you’ve experienced this too when you set out to create. Maybe you’ve thought that you lacked the discipline to be an artist or painter or a writer, just like I once did.
Uncertainty Is Part of the Creative Process
When we choose to be creative, we aren’t craving a certain, definable outcome. The very reason that creativity draws us in is that uncertainty.
That whimsical magic that happens when we create something that hasn’t been created before.
But we can’t simply disconnect our logical minds. We need to find a way to bring them along for the ride, without letting them ruin the voyage.
Make It Easy to Get Started
To get started, we need to take away just enough uncertainty to get our logical minds on board. Think of it like starting a roaring fire in the fireplace. You can’t light a big log with a single match. You need kindling – newspaper, sawdust, dry sticks – things that spark a small flame that will eventually ignite the largest logs.
I’ve found that coloring pages make perfect “kindling” to ignite my creative flow. I can simply pull out a page and just start playing with colors. My logical mind sees the page as an easy task to be completed, while my creative mind loves the act of playing with color or using my new colored pencils or markers.
This small act of “play” gets me excited. Before long, I’m either lost in the coloring page or thinking of other creative ideas that point to a drawing or project to start.
In fact, I often keep pen and paper on my desk to capture creative ideas that begin to flow once I’m engaged in the simple act of coloring. But no matter what happens, I’ve spent my creative time in joy, rather than struggle. It’s amazing how this simple act of play can free the mind.
And the next time I have the opportunity to flex my creative muscles, I’ll be more apt to let go and just do it, remembering the joy from the last time.
So the next time you want to be creative and find yourself stalled, download a coloring page or pull out a coloring book and spend a few minutes indulging in the simplicity of child-like play. You might just find it sparks your imagination to draw, paint and create more often.