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creativity & inspiration: my creative process + common barriers

By request, I thought I’d share some of the stuff that I threw up on the screen at my MOPS meeting this week. I spoke on Creativity & Inspiration and while I listed off bullet points that I wanted to touch on, I let the talk be it’s own organic self…moving where it went & should go. I even discovered a new topic that I really want to dig into…more on that later. But here’s the brief version, for those of you who were not in the room, but were interested. ;)

Like I shared yesterday, this is my very favorite quote on creativity. Making the complicated simple. Really, that is what it is all about. Apple is a GENIUS at this. Everything about them is so simple…but so sophisticated. For us moms (who were my target audience at this talk) making creativity simple is really the key to being creative at all. Maybe it’s one project a month. Maybe you do it alone…maybe you involve your kids…but SIMPLIFY. Creative people don’t become that way by accident. We all start simple…and then [deep breath in] there are some of us that JUST. CAN’T. STOP. ;)

So here’s my “make it simple” approach to the creative process:

Three basic steps. Each with a very important role.

  • When we seek inspiration, we narrow down what we like & don’t like & naturally select things we’re drawn to. Getting inspired can happen all over–the places listed above & anywhere, really. My lightbulb moments always come in my dreams. I know it sounds nuts, but I literally wake up with my best ideas–probably because I expose myself to lots of stuff to mull over during the day and I typically spend my last 15 minutes of the day on pinterest or watching the Nate Show. ;)
  • Education is how we figure out HOW do do what we’re inspired to do. There are an endless amount of resources–and a TON of free information on the internet. We just have to find it.
  • Execution is the fun & scary part. Can I? Will I? Sometimes, you just have to DO it.

I think these words come out of my mouth a dozen times a week. I am creative, yes. But most of what I do is simply because I am motivated to do it. I like the projects I do and following my creative process, it’s not that tough for me to get it done.

The tangent I went on, that I am going to explore more, is cultivating creativity in our kids. I strongly believe that creativity is a skill that we help them develop. If we don’t expose our kiddos to projects, activities & places to exercise free thinking, we are robbing them of a critical life skill. Saying “I am not creative” and using that as an excuse is just lazy. We can all be creative. We just have to try. Our schools in this country don’t support creative thinking the way I feel it needs to be supported.

I am not an expert, but I am going to learn more about this subject. It fascinates me. Until then, I am going to refer you to an actual expert, one of my favorite speakers, Sir Ted Robinson. I’ve linked him before here, but it’s worth linking again, because after watching his talk for about the tenth time now, I am still taking things away from it that I did not dwell on before. & don’t tell me you don’t have time to listen…my trick? Play it on my iPhone while I am emptying the dishwasher, folding laundry or editing pictures. You don’t have to watch. Just listen. It’s one of the best talks I have ever heard:


Failure. One of my favorite topics. I wrote about it here: Failure & Creativity. It’s one of the biggest barriers I can think of–and one of the things that get in the way of our kids’ creative spirits.

The creative process is interrupted by barriers. Failure being the biggest one I can think of. We are so afraid of it. & what blogs, magazines & most other inspiring sources fail to show you is all the talented contributors’ failures–and they are not few & far between. The more you do, the more you fail. Keeping at it until you find the solution is the fun part. It means you are learning! & I love to learn…but failure is a HUGE part of my learning.

Perfection–let it go. This not-so-simple thing makes creative projects so much more fun. The real joy in the handmade is imperfection. You can buy perfect at the store. Imperfect is charming. & real. & special.

& if the imperfection bugs you, well, find the good side & focus on that. :) Case in point: our Halloween. ;)

Another place we trip up when getting our creative projects going: not having supplies, not thinking about dimensions ahead of time, not setting aside enough time. You do have to plan. Some of us have a ton of supplies (that we’ve collected over the years) at our fingertips, but sometimes we need specific things for certain projects. Plan ahead. Make a list. Ask for help.

& the biggest emotional barrier of all: comparative thinking. As much as I love pinterest, I also can’t stand it because of what I hear out of so many people who are on there. “She’s so amazing!” or “I can’t do it” or “mine will never look that good.” It’s not about copying. It’s not about comparing. It’s about US and what we are actually making an effort to do in our homes.

Blogs are shiny & happy & glossy & often…just the highlights of reality. Not the full picture. Putting someone on a pedestal based on what they choose to share on the internet or in their homes is not healthy for anyone. What is healthy? Learning from them. HOW do they do it. WHAT are their tricks for success? & time management? Here’s a great article: I CAN NOT DO IT ALL.

I love keeping the company of people far more talented than I am. I’d much prefer it that way! Finding friends that continue to motivate & inspire me is a big key to my happiness. :)

So now…it’s time to get out there & make something pretty! Or do something new! Got a great crafty project you’d like to share? Pretty please do. Whether it’s your blog or someone else’s–I’d love a link! ;)

& the DIYs are right around the corner. I need a super sunny day (when I am actually home!) to take some pictures of the finished projects. :)

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  • Shalini k. - I am so glad I got to hear you speak! Now off to actually try some fun projects! Thanks for the inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - Shawna, I continue to be encouraged and inspired by your blog! Thank you for the time you spend here as a teacher and encouragement to the rest of us. I love your thoughts on motivation. I’ve really spent a lot of time deciding what is valuable to me and then putting my mind to it! That is so important! Also, I think taking baby steps is helpful, like Emily’s article says, “I cannot do it all,” and…I sure know that I cannot do it all at once either!

    I just wanted to sincerely thank you :)ReplyCancel

  • alison - Wonderful post! I love the projects I do with the boys and can see their creativity grow with each one. You are right, creativity is a life skill. It evolves into and touches so many areas of our lives…problem solving, thinking outside the box, even the simple energy you bring into a room. Can’t wait to hear Sir Ted’s presentation…thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Jen - Check out Reggio Emilia approach for supporting creative learning in children. Our preschool uses this approach and we love it.ReplyCancel

  • Hwannie - This is an interesting post. I enjoy and follow your blog, but you would never consider me to be “a creative” in your sense of the word. In fact, I’d rather drop dead than have to construct a DIY project, paint something, or do anything remotely related to crafts.

    However, I do consider myself to be extremely creative. In my former life as an attorney, I used my creative skills on a daily basis to find innovative solutions to many of my clients’ problems. I encouraged my clients to be creative every day in both their daily business practices and litigation. I like to think that I still use those creative skills as a mom to two toddlers, and that I am teaching them the value of being creative. Being “a creative” or being a “creative person” does not simply extend to arts & crafts, but rather, an entire approach to thinking. And this is the type of creativity I teach my kids.

    I would hate for my children to think that their mother is not “creative” simply because I hired an interior decorator and a painter to redo our formal dining room!ReplyCancel

  • Hardship – Medley « Oster Turbo 111 - […] she describes her creative process and the channel her stories develop from snips and slices. Nadir – Medley Un petit recueil des couplets de Nadir de la team d'Oster Lapwass qui déchirent! ost…en='true' width='640' […]ReplyCancel

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