Hands up if you retreated into a new or established hobby during the last couple of years?

Most of us engaged in some form of a creative pass-time. Their importance has really been brought into sharp focus lately, and it’s something I was missing for a long time.

I was too busy to even think about having a hobby. The odd time when it crossed my mind I thought ‘how is spending time I don’t have, on something that’s not directly making my days easier, going to help me?’

Even though I had always crafted in some way and my mother is never more than 2 feet away from something she can cut up and sew, all I could imagine were stamp collecting or plane spotting, they didn’t seem relevant to me as a busy mam on a very low budget.

Life can get so busy, and stressful, and overwhelming. Yet sometimes, when we need to lose ourselves in a distracting hobby, we are least able to look for one.

Looking back, I did actually have one.

I used to go running several times a week (did I imagine I was running from my problems? Yes I did!). Sometimes I loved it, sometimes I hated it but I never regretted a run.

And unbeknownst to me, it was actually a creative hobby.

Yeah I know I sound like I’m stretching this a bit but bear with me. Scheduled track sessions followed a set plan laid out by the coach, created to help us warm up safely and build up to a successful session where we could see how fast or how far we could go before warming down again. Each week the session changed and built on the previous, just like a sewing class. I got to see how my body reacted in different circumstances. I was constantly learning about what worked and what didn’t, what could be tweaked or changed for different results.

Running was creative for me because I was going into a place of exploration. Making discoveries.

In between track sessions I went for my own runs, where I picked up or dropped my speed as I felt, changed my route to take in certain surfaces or views or to include challenges or easy parts to see how my body felt doing it. It was freestyle creative freedom using just my body and I loved it.

Looking back I can see so much creativity through the busy years.

I was designing different furniture layouts at home, painting rooms, choosing colours, cushions, decor. When I was in the mood I would create certain looks for myself using clothing, jewellery, make up, hair styles. Don’t get me started on decorating for Christmas!

Can you recall the last time you really felt immersed in something?

When you last really had fun, when it was just your imagination exploring what happens next?

For many of us that will have been in school, and probably the earlier primary years when the focus is on exploration and fun and the teacher hoping we’ll stay occupied for 5 minutes! As we progress through school the focus moves towards achievements and ticking boxes.

We are taught to ignore creativity because it’s unpredictable

It’s the wild horse in the stable, not safe to be let out in case it doesn’t perform the tricks required to progress in an orderly fashion.

I hate to hear people say ‘Oh I’m not creative’, ‘I don’t have a creative bone in my body’. It’s the biggest load of crap we tell ourselves. We’ve been taught to ignore our creativity and yet we create our lives and realities everyday.

Not everything created is beautiful, or art, or frivolous. But everything is created.

Most of that is necessary. Food, housing, clothing, transport, education. We need creativity. On a very basic level, we’d all be dead long ago without it. The last 2 years alone have proved how important creativity is as we indulged in movies and music and art created by others kind enough to share so we could have an escape from reality.

The other big misconception about creativity is that what is created has to be GOOD.

It must be on a par with Picasso, it must stand up to scrutiny. Seriously? We try to do something to relax and then pressure ourselves to be a creative genius? What are we like?! We have to let ourselves be absolutely totally shit at something. Just let ourselves enjoy the process, the making, the creating, choosing colours, randomly deciding the next step, to start in the middle, to leave it unfinished. A hobby doesn’t have to have an end point. In fact the point of a hobby is that it keeps going, it is always there ready for us to pick it back up.

Sometimes we may experience a creative drought

The absolute worst thing I can do with a creative pursuit when I hit a drought is to force it. I can abandon it, discard it, change it. I can impose a routine on it, break it down into steps or slots of time but if I am feeling out of touch with it I have to let it return to me gently.

Be open to creativity returning in a different way

For example, sewing recently abandoned me but writing popped its head up and said ‘try me!‘, so that’s what I did. It may be different for you and I’d love to hear if it is.