Creating Anyway

Free Association, MRI series, Tourmaline ., 2020

While 2020 has been an eye opener for me with health concerns, my off beat health is nothing new. Just in the past 6 or 7 years, from infected tonsils that led to me getting sick every time I ate or drank for more than a year, then an adult tonsillectomy and terrible recovery. To what I was told was b12 deficiency but turned out to be my first MS attack. To now going through another MS attack and finally being diagnosed. And truly those things don’t cover the full scope.

But I tell you this to talk about my creative process throughout, because it’s had to change a bit. And maybe from my experience you can gather some tidbits for your own creative process.

Toy photography, the research of, and other art mediums are my driving passions. Having an idea or motivation and not having the energy, or being in too much pain to create drives me crazy.

And sometimes I just have to accept that a new piece isn’t going to get started that day. To accept the bad days and not beat myself up for not being art productive is something I’ve had to learn and come to terms with.

There are ways that I’ve found that help drive me or at least make me feel more on task.

1. Set daily or weekly goals

The pain I felt in October of this year brought me to the ER, then to a neurology appointment where I got a prescription that helped a good bit. That being said, I was still tired and in pain, just a lesser amount. But I had already committed to the Halloween challenge, and I keep my word.

So I set a goal, a photo everyday I possibly could. Go to my day job, come home, relax, eat dinner, start making an image at 9pm, so that I could finish and post to the nightly instagram hashtag by 11pm, then go to bed. Hopefully I had a photo idea before this time but that certainly wasn’t always the case. This method was a mixed bag and sometimes I resorted to posting old images instead, but some of the new images I got I’m super happy with.

➜Find a way to hold yourself accountable to your goals but allow some wiggle room. We all deserve days off.

2. Keep an art journal

Think of an idea, write it down! Keep a little notebook with you (or your phone notes will do), wherever you are, and keep track of any of the little thoughts that come your way.

Sometimes this still feels like creating because it can be a very important part of the creation process.

➜Even if you don’t make the thing right away, you can return to, or get more inspiration from it later down the line.

3. Take advantage of your good days

Not everyone is going to relate to my health stuff, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have off days, busy days, or any number of other things.

➜Take those days in stride. Have a plan for the days you do have time, the days you feel on top of the world. Make all the things you can, feel up to, have time for, those days.

Loch Ness Monster Sighting, 2020

4. Hold onto your work

Nothing says you have to post everything all at once. You don’t even need to listen to all the instagram rules. Just post to the internet when you want to.

➜Over stressing yourself with post deadlines isn’t always helpful. Know yourself and the difference between what motivates you and what stresses you out.

Sometimes its good to let pieces sit before posting online. You may see something you didn’t notice before, something you love or hate.

➜This is a chance to be critical of your own work so that you can continue to improve.

5. Make something else

➜Can’t get the drive, find the time, etc? It can help to just start with something more low-key, whatever you consider that to be. Doodle, dance, wiggle your shoulders a bit, splash paint on a canvas, finger paint on printer paper, journal, write a story. Whatever gets your creative juices flowing.

At the height of my current MS attack, moving made me dizzy and nauseous. Doing dishes even gave me an awful migraine. So I sat still. If my head allowed it maybe I’d just be swiping through tiktoks but maybe just maybe I’d be typing an art idea in a phone note or on the best days, I’d slowly move in my art space, setting up a scene and just accept the first photo I got. This led to a chunk of phone shots, fully edited on my phone (not to say that’s not an acceptable practice, just not my normal practice) that I was at least content enough with. And honestly, sometimes that’s enough.

I hadn’t been writing long form blog posts at all through the whole of October and November and almost all of December. I just couldn’t focus on reading, researching, writing. So in my 5 day Christmas weekend I took advantage of the time and motivation I had and got a chunk scheduled. There’s more I’m excited about and have ordered some books to aid in the research but in the back of my head I’m thinking “when those books arrive, will I have the capacity to finish researching and writing those posts?” And I tell myself it’s fully possible I won’t, but that ability to focus on those things will return and no one but me is holding me to getting them posted timely.

Overall, do whatever your head, body, time and capacity allow. Sometimes that will amount to just okay work, but other times maybe it’ll amount to something you’re stunningly happy with.

You will always certainly be your worst critic.

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