I originally wrote Rewriting Your Creative Habit as an article for Scrapbook News and Review Magazine in April, 2012. Though the layout represents my scrapbook style from several years back, the message is still quite relevant today. So many times, we limit ourselves with self imposed rules. Read on to find out how I learned to move past them and to rewrite my own creative habit.
My son often asks me for permission to paint .When he does, I immediately spout off my usual litany of requirements for him. They are a simple set of rules designed to keep my life a little more mess and stress free:
- wear old clothes you don’t care about
- cover your workspace
- clean up your mess
- keep the cat from walking on your project and tracking paint everywhere.
Watching him set up his workspace made me realize something. He has no rules to tell him how to paint or what to do with his supplies. He simply sets up shop and goes about the business of creating. It’s a much different way of working than mine has been. As I have gotten older, I have placed a set of parameters upon my creativity. They center upon how I use my supplies and when to use them. They have hampered my ability to create. I needed to give myself permission to let go of the rules, to rewrite them and to learn to enjoy the creative process again.
Learning to let go of those rules was not an easy task. For a long time, I was unaware of the creative parameters that I had boxed myself into. I would sit down to work on a scrapbook page only to find myself staring at my supplies or some fabulous layout in a magazine. I so badly wanted to create wonderful pages with ease, just as the big name designers seemed to do. I was unsure of what direction to go in, for I felt I knew nothing of design. Supplies had an intent and purpose created by the manufacturer. A journal spot was meant for a story to be written on. A twelve inch border was meant to be used in its entirety. That pink chipboard title was surely meant to be pink. Sketches were maps that were meant to be followed. I must find the exact right size photo and the place the page elements just so upon the page. I had boxed myself in, making the process of creating a page into a small ordeal.
The message I am trying to convey to you is certainly not a new one. I watched videos of May Flaum and Christy Tomlinson at work. They created fabulous projects with ease, spattering paint and selecting products with no worries. Noelle Hyman and Lain Ehmann advised me to use the supplies I had on hand. My goal, they said, was to get the story on the page and to stop second guessing myself. These women created for the sake of creating. Something I longed to do. I had to step forward, let go of my box of rules and rewrite my creative habit.
My first big step was to let go of perfection. This meant I had to come to grips with certain things in my work. Take my handwriting, for example. It will never be fluid and elegant. I will, most likely, always adhere my page elements slightly off center. I had to teach myself not to worry about these things. Some things I could change. Others were inherently part of my style. Regardless of whether I love them or hate them, I had to own my imperfections. Once I did that, I could be free to create and tell my stories
After I acknowledged all of those imperfections I was able to think a little more freely about my supplies and the way I used them. I realized something that had been right there in front of me all along. My stash of supplies was there for me to do with as I pleased. Consider what you do when you buy a new home. You might change the paint color on the walls. You embellish it with furniture and knick knacks. Your scrapbook supplies are really not all that different, though we often tend to hoard them. Don’t keep saving them for just the right set of pictures. Learn to use them now. While it might feel odd at first to cut apart a journal spot or paint a chipboard frame, you have the right to change them to fit your page just as you have the right to change the wall color in your house. You just might find more of your supplies ending up on your pages.
I’d like to leave you with an example of how easily a set of supplies can be molded to fit your page. I started off with the desire to use a K and Company chipboard title and a set of farm themed die cuts from My Little Shoebox. I wanted to use the word “happy”.
It was the wrong shade of green. I altered it by painting it yellow to match the die cuts. I then added stickles for a more finished look. I cut the purple border to use as decorative tape on my photo. The yellow border was too long, so I cut it shorter. I also chose to use only part of the bracket of the pink border. I removed the fence from the yellow journal spot so I could use it with a barn I had fussy cut from My Little Shoebox papers.
Consider what you see first. Do you see the page as a whole or do you see my imperfections? The letters in my title are not completely straight. My journaling is not horrid, but it’s not gorgeous either. It does its job of adding a touch of me as it tells my story. Overall, it was a fun page to make and demonstrates how I love to use paint and mist.
Developing this new creative habit took time for me. It took about a year for me to really become comfortable with the new, creative me. As I did so, my own personal style began to peek out. Some days, my style only whispers. Some days, it shouts. I create a lot more pages at a faster pace than I ever did before. While I don’t fall in love with every page I make, I do love how much fun it is to make them. I love how more of my supplies are finding their way onto my pages. I have given myself permission to explore scrapbooking as a creative outlet. I hope that you can give yourself permission to discover how wonderful it is to rewrite your creative habits.