My partner and I are spending the evening in, and after a super adult dinner of blueberry pancakes and bacon, we decided to take care of a couple of projects we’ve been meaning to complete (woo! Friday!). And by that I mean he started putting together some IKEA furniture and I sat on the couch reading and taking notes in a book I've been meaning to dive into for awhile.
As I’m reading on the couch, my mind starts wandering and I look toward a sketch book I bought at the beginning of the year. Little tremors of guilt and shame start to run through me. I had big plans for that sketchbook. I bought it on a day when I was feeling inspired toward the end of 2015, with the intention of making a drawing/doodle every day in 2016. I even came up with a cute name (The Daily Doodle) and wrote it on the first page.
…Yeah, I have NOT made a doodle every day of 2016. Sitting on the couch reading I had the urge to pick up the sketchbook and draw. And then the thoughts started coming in: “But what about the days I HAVEN’T drawn? Do I leave space for them and go back and make them up? What’s the point of even drawing if I didn’t do it like I said I would?” I went back to reading my book. Looked at my pencil case filled with Micron pens. Pretended to read my book while secretly thinking about drawing.
And then, out of nowhere, my partner asks, “hey babe, how are your daily doodles coming along?” (Yeah, he’s pretty intuitive. And also I apparently had a lesson to learn.)
Here’s how I answered, warm faced and tight chested (two of my shame indicators):
“Honestly, not great. As in, I haven’t actually made a drawing in at least a week. Once I skipped a day, it got easier to skip another. And, I also realized that while I LOVE the idea of drawing every day, I don’t know if that’s actually what I want. What I wanted was to add more creativity into my life more consistently, and I legitimately miss drawing and producing art.
But what I realized is I was either putting it off all day and then doing it in bed before sleeping, or I was using it as a way to procrastinate things I actually needed to get done. That means something isn’t working. I think the idea of drawing every day is really great- I want that consistency. And I also think I need to put some sort of parameters on it- like a time limit- draw for 10 minutes a day. It may end up longer. But without that, it was too vague. Cool, thanks for asking love!”
That was a slightly longer answer than I think he expected. And it was perfect, because it helped me realize a couple of things, and those are the things I was inspired to share with you at 10:30pm on a Friday night.
Anytime you try and get something perfect, it’s pretty much doomed to fail.
While there is something to be said definitely for commitment and consistency, missing a day or not getting it exactly right (in whatever you are doing) is not a good excuse for stopping forever. It can be a convenient excuse, and a great way your brain will trick you into staying in the exact same place you are now.
It would have been super easy for me to simply never pick up that sketchbook again. I had already messed up. Why go back to something I didn’t do perfectly? This is a pattern I know both I and the majority of the women I’ve worked with have. There is so much fear and shame around not being perfect that often we quit things early or sometimes don’t even start. And trust me, I have many examples of this in my life.
But I’m not interested in maintaining that pattern. Especially when it’s keeping me from something I actually really enjoy and have been longing for.
So I picked up my sketchbook and fished a piece of charcoal out of my art supply box. I turned to a new page, said screw it to the fact that the last drawing in there was dated 1.11.2016, and began sketching. About 30 minutes later, I felt complete. And so full of joy.
Would my sketch have held up as anything in any of my drawing classes in undergrad? Hell no. Was it even a “finished” drawing? Nope. And I’m delighted to inform you that I don’t care one bit. Take that, voices in my head who told me not to even bother.
Sometimes we start out with an idea or a project and realize pretty quickly (or even pretty late in the game) that something is off. There are a few options there- all of which could be the right choice, depending on what you most need.
You can quit entirely. Sometimes bailing completely is the right answer. Or, it might make sense to look at what isn’t working. Is there a piece of the structure of your project that isn’t working? (If you aren’t sure, my general rule around this is if the structure/ rules/ guidelines feel really hard and confining, it’s probably not the right structure.) Is there a perspective that needs to shift? Are you still connected to your original intention of the project?
My default with this drawing project was to bail out. Add it to the pile of things I’ve quit or not followed through on. But I checked in with myself, and noticed feelings of guilt and a little bit of shame, and asked myself, “what is this about?”
The shame came from my need to do things right and be the perfect student. I didn’t do it every day, therefore I failed, therefore I was bad. Not actually true.
The guilt was a little more complex. As I breathed and felt my body, what came through was that I felt guilty because I wasn’t doing the thing my heart truly desired, which was to make and create things. I felt a little bit like I was betraying myself. Ding ding ding. This was it.
The intention of my ‘Daily Doodle’ project was so I would more consistently make and create- specifically visual art. When I checked in, that desire was still strong. As was the intention to draw every day. A couple things I realized weren’t working- one, which I mentioned above, was I needed a structure that worked for me. “draw anything” was great in theory, but having something like a time constraint felt way better.
The other thing that wasn’t working was I realized I didn’t actually set aside time in my day to draw. I made a mistake that I see happen ALL THE TIME with clients and women who want to take care of themselves but don’t. While I didn’t set aside time, I DID add it to my “daily morning ritual” list, which is a series of rituals I perform each day (mostly) including oil pulling, sun salutations, breathing, meditation time, and free writing.
What I forgot? It took me time to become consistent with all of the above things. And sometimes one will cycle out of my daily practices. There are very few things I can write down on a piece of paper and then magically I just do them every day. I have a tendency to try to go from zero to 60 with ALL THE THINGS. I hadn’t made a drawing outside of notebook margin doodles in like a year. Of course I need some time to incorporate it back into what’s normal in my daily life.
My new parameters for this Daily Doodle project? Every morning after I finish meditating, I’m going to spend ten minutes with my sketchbook. I don’t even have to draw- but I do have to open it and turn to a blank page. I don’t get to write in it, unless a word or quote is part of my sketch.
These parameters feel light and spacious. They give me the consistency I crave, without the pressure to perform. I chose them just now after going through many options in my head and checking in with my body. When I was playing with options that weren’t going to work or were based on my need to get it right, my body started to tense up and I stopped breathing. When I landed on a parameter that would actually work and support my intention, I could feel my whole body relax and I exhaled.
So why did I share all of this with you?
Because your creative spark matters. That fire in your soul, the way you feel when you feel ALIVE- it MATTERS. I feel it when I’m drawing. I feel it when I’m dancing. I feel it when I’m in nature. Where do you feel it?
Did you know you can intentionally cultivate that feeling? Feel it every day? There are ways to feel consistently alert, excited, and inspired. And the above is an example in my life of practicing actually acting on those feelings.
Creativity does NOT want you to wait to get it right.
If you feel plateaued in your energy or inspiration, chances are there are things you need to express and create before new inspiration comes through.
Where in your life are you denying what wants to be created through you out of fear you won’t get it right?
Are there any projects you’ve started in the past, or ways of creating and expressing yourself that you miss and want to return to?
What might be possible there?
So many women come to me because they want to be more creative and more connected to their bodies and their selves. Your relationship with your body is intricately related to your creative potential, by the way. Well here are some questions to start asking:
What are you drawn to?
What do you want to create?
How have you enjoyed creative expression in the past?
Is there something you’ve wanted to try but have been afraid to be bad at?
And, just so we are clear- this does not need to feel heavy. No beating yourself up for feeling disconnected from your creativity and your spark. Your body is always looking for ways to connect you to your heart and soul’s expression. Did you know that? It will guide you every single time.If you feel tension, heaviness, fogginess, fatigue… that’s a signal for you from your body that there is a disconnect between who you really are and what you have been experiencing and expressing.Feelings of lightness, joy, energy, delight? Ta da, you’re on the right track.
You don’t have to feel inspired to get started. Sometimes you just have to put pen to paper. Or feet to trail, or spatula to mixing bowl (baking is another of my favorite arts). And it doesn’t have to be perfect. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be good. What matters? Is how alive you feel.
I dare you to create something this weekend. Anything at all. And if you want to share, or desire some accountability? I’m here.
If connecting more deeply to your body and your creative energy is something you’re interested in exploring, let's have a conversation. These are the core themes of my private coaching programs, and it would be an honor to support you in stepping into your creative power and aliveness. Ready to chat? Book your program consultation here: