7 Lessons From a Week of Forced Creativity

It’s been just over a week since I kicked off my year-long creativity challenge and it’s been an interesting few days.. Projects have kicked off and completed and lessons are being learned. So here’s a quick rundown of 7 lessons I’ve learned in this first week:

  1. It’s the best part of my day.

There have definitely been a couple days when I’ve had to force myself to do something creative, just doing enough to check the box. But for the most part, my daily creative time has become something I look forward to and I even find myself daydreaming about what project I’ll work on when I get home from work.

  1. It’s the perfect way to learn something new.

Learning to knit has been on my to-do list for what seems like forever, and somehow I’ve never gotten around to figuring it out. Until now. (Thank you YouTube tutorials) With a whole year ahead of me, the possibilities for future hobbies and new skills is wide open.

  1. The shadow of social media is nearly impossible to resist.

Doing a different creative project every day was never part of the rules I established for this challenge, but documenting this process on Instagram means that I inevitably start to think about how my grid looks and if it’s getting too repetitive. Meaning that I’ve started to mix up which creative projects I do each day.

  1. Being creative is physical as well as mental.

A lot of inspirational writers will tell you that creativity is a muscle that needs to be exercised or else it atrophies. But there’s something to be said about the literal muscles involved in creating. The first day I started knitting, my hands felt so clumsy it was like I was wearing hockey gloves while trying to grip the needles. The Saturday I spent coloring one beautiful, intricate picture, I had to take frequent breaks to stretch my hands. As with running or yoga, these hobbies require a physical strength all their own.

  1. Creativity multiplies.

The rules of this challenge require me to do one creative act every day. But I’m finding that one project often turns into two, or three, or four. One night, I finished my project for the day and went to bed, only to wake up two hours later to write an email to myself detailing the new story idea that wouldn’t let me stay asleep. Once you open the doors, creativity finds a way to flow through into every aspect of your life, especially the areas that had previously been blocked (like my writing).

  1. Everyone wants to be creative.

The number one reaction I’ve gotten from friends and family since starting this challenge has been, “That’s so cool, I want to do that!” My boyfriend is posting along with me with his preferred mode of creativity (photography), other friends have started to think about how they would do a challenge of their own or how they can be more creative in their lives. Just like it multiplies in your own life, creativity likes to spread to everyone and anyone who’s willing to give it the time of day.

  1. Even when I’m not writing, I’m writing.

Writing and storytelling have always been my primary mode of creativity, my bread and butter. But as part of this challenge, I’ve focused less on it and conversely, it’s flowed a lot easier. Most days, I choose something visual or tactile as my daily project: coloring, sewing, knitting, painting. These mediums feel like a break for my brain because they’re such a contrast from my daily work and my personal writing. And maybe because the writing isn’t my top priority, the pressure isn’t there to make it good, or even to make it happen. No 1,000 word a day mandate, no outline or chapter that needs to be done. Instead, the words come when they’re ready and if they don’t, they don’t.

If you’d like to start your own creativity challenge or just follow along as I document mine, check me out on Instagram @coffeecupmuse and track your own progress at #creative365challenge.

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