Dispelling the “I can’t do it” Myths of Creativity

This article was written by Michelle Brown

It is so hard to find that extra time in the day to fit in a little crafting and creativity into our lives. By reviewing where our time goes during the day and making a determined effort to have time to practice and learn new skills, while getting together the materials we need, we are able to open up the opportunity for us to be creative.mixed_media_art_collage

I have been creating cards and paintings and mixed media creations for many years; from when I was in High School, through studying at university, working full time, then having kids and working full time.  Because mixed media arts and papercrafts are my passion, I will find time and space to create, fitting it in as and when I can.

I am always very interested when I find others who are amazed at what I make, and by their excuses as to why they could never make such nice things. It seems to boil down to one of three reasons (or a combination of all three):
1. I don’t have enough time
2. I don’t have the talent / skills / know-how
3. I don’t have the equipment or materials

I see these are the three “I can’t do it” Myths of Creativity. Let’s look at each one in detail.

Don’t have enough time
While working and children and keeping a house does take up a lot of time, it is important to understand where our time goes. Every person on this planet has 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. It is how we choose to use our time which determines if we have enough time for creative pursuits.

If you are one of those people who doesn’t know where your time goes, it may be time to do a “time audit”; keeping a written record of the tasks you do through a normal week. Even a simple breakdown into categories of Kids, Household, My time, Working, Computer, Garden, Television will help you to see where your time goes. At the end of the week, summarise where the time goes each day.

Then it’s time for some real thinking. Are you surprised as to where your time goes? Are you seeing proportionate results for your effort? Now you can take stock and consider if how you are spending your time is in line with your goals and values.

For me to fit in my crafting, I concentrate my housework into a limited number of hours in a week; what gets done, gets done, what doesn’t will either get delegated or left for next week. Then I schedule in time to create. At times it has only been for half an hour (an hour at the most) in the evenings, after the children are in bed (or at least playing in their rooms). By planning my crafting activities (Christmas comes around at the same time each year) and allowing enough time, I can get these projects done by spending a little time, most days, completing each project bit by bit.

Don’t have the skills
Wanting to create is enough to get started; developing the skills will happen in line with the creative process. Especially with the Internet these days, we all have access to so many different techniques and other artists, that reading up on the basics is enough to get you going. Then there are courses and classes with your local stores or crafting groups. All of the people I have met across many crafts are always happy to share what they know.

More advanced skills will be developed as you get more practice in while you are creating. Many techniques are dependent on the latest crafting fashions and these can be developed the same way as your basic skills. And these are the more tangible skills.

The intangible skills of colour mixing and knowing just where to place things can also be developed through practice and consciously looking at he work of others. By consciously, I mean that when you think “oh that’s nice” then begin to ask yourself why – it is the colours, the techniques used, the placement of embellishments? Becoming more analytical will built your skills.

My talents are mostly developed through practice and seeing other people’s work, with a few classes thrown in. I tend to stick to safe colour combinations. For collages I follow the steps I have outlined in other articles. Then the placement of images and embellishments are done until it feels “right”.

Don’t have equipment or materials
As we have seen across the Mixed Media Arts site, there are many things that we already have around the house or borrowed from the children that can be used to start creating. Card form cereal boxed, glue sticks or sticky tape, basic paints, pens and note paper – if you don’t have these hidden somewhere, a trip to the local variety shop will help get you started. Remember that you don’t need every colour or size or shape to begin with. Stick to some basic colours and multi purpose stamps and inks. You will find that your artistic tastes will change as you create more artwork and learn different techniques. Your materials and equipment collection will expand as opportunity presents itself.

I have had many years to collect my craft supplies. I have things stuffed into many corners but I just don’t use them. Unless I go through the drawers on a regular basis, then I forget what I have. So not having lots of supplies is not the only aspect that will keep you from crafting.

Creativity is a skill like any other that needs time doing it to get better at it. Finding the time to spend creating is where the challenge is in our modern busy lives. By being aware of where we spend our time we can make decisions about how we use it and if crafting is a priority for you, the time slots will present themselves. All the wishful thinking that you had more skills or time or materials will only help you if you use it as motivation to change what you were doing yesterday, and try something different today – that is the only way to create lasting change in your life.

So get creating!

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