A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life.— Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
As far back as I can remember, creativity has always been at the core of my being. I just haven’t always let it out.
There was a good chunk of my life that I spent trying to convince myself that, in fact, I wasn’t creative in order to hold down a soul-sucking job that required little more from me than my warm butt in a chair and three or four brain cells in order to, ahem, make all the money.
I’m sure you can imagine how that worked out — about as well as confining a lion to a 10′ x 10′ cage with no windows. The lion gets either destructively angry or morosely depressed, sometimes both, and ends up eating people. It’s not pretty.
So, as a gift to myself and to protect the people I love from being eaten on a daily basis, I made a promise to myself about a decade ago that I would live a bigger, happier, and hell of a lot more interesting life by honoring my creative spark, no matter what. That promise, naturally, led me to revisit and recommit to writing (after much angst and resistance), but prior to finally getting my head out of my ass about putting words on paper, I cultivated a few other creative avenues that I still walk on a regular basis.
And, lo and behold, I’ve found that walking those paths feeds my writing. Huh. Who knew?
So, in no particular order, here are a few of the ways I sharpen my creative knife.
Beautiful photography stuns me. As a person who tends to favor words (and the more the better) to convey a point or tell a story, someone who can do the same via nothing but a visual capture of a brief moment of time feels like the right kind of magic. One I am constantly trying (and usually failing) to bottle for myself.
Every once in a while I break out my ridiculously expensive and mostly-wasted-on-me fancy pants camera and snap some woefully inadequate photos, always aware that Photoshop usually saves my ass here.
Did you know? I actually have a degree in interior design and ran my own firm for a minute. It was … interesting, to say the least (I could write a million best-selling novels about my experiences). But what drew me to the field was my absolute passion for transforming a disgusting, run down, unwanted, and unlivable space into something spectacular. My need to redecorate is a compulsion. Color, fabric, furniture, texture, accessories — sigh. Heaven. Even though I will no longer make my living doing interior design, I will always love remodeling and renovation.
Along with my obsession with rehabbing rooms, I also love dumpster diving for old furniture and fixing it up. I even used to have a little side business doing this until my ancient bones told me it was time to stop. Come to think of it, I haven’t been to the thrift and antique stores for a while … hmmm ….
I first learned Photoshop waaaaaayyyy back in 1999 and Illustrator soon followed. Again, like photography, I’m in awe of real graphic designers. I’m a dabbler, full stop. I’m under no illusions that the pictures I slap down on the digital paper are of any quality whatsoever. But that doesn’t stop me from indulging in the joy I get from trying. And, the thing about doing digital art, or photography, or interior design is that it improves my writing. It forces me to think visually, which translates into better descriptive imagery in my stories and poems.
So, why not, right?
I spent the better part of my younger days as a band and choir nerd. It’s a rare day that I don’t have some kind of music going in the background for whatever activity I’m doing — writing, cooking, running.
Once I reached adulthood, I gave up actually making music. About a year ago, I realized how stupid that was and bought a piano. I’ve been threatening to learn/relearn how to play, now that I’ve worked through the squirmies practicing scales gave me when I was a kid. At least, I’m pretty sure I have. Nah. Scales still suck. But it’s fun to tinkle around on the keyboard when writer’s block strikes.
So, these are my creative outlets, other than writing. I’d love to hear about yours. Do you have multiple passions like I do, or do you stick to just one? If you’re a multi, how do you find the time to fit all of your pursuits into a busy life?
Hit me up in the comments.
This post was my first entry in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. This month’s question was (er, obviously) “Besides writing, what other creative pursuits do you have?” You can check out other writers’ answers to this question here: