Creativity Corner: Time to make a change

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In the first of a new monthly column (published in the Mercury on 24th December 2010) award-winning publisher and writing tutor Amanda Seyderhelm writes specially for Mercury readers. Amanda recently relocated from London to Stamford, and specialises in teaching people to find their voice. She is holding a new writing course at Stamford Arts Centre on January 6...

How often do you give yourself ‘time out’ from your busy life? I don’t mean time to have the bubble bath (as soothing as that is). I mean time out to be creative.

When I say that people often think I mean they sign up for a class to learn a new technique – pottery, clay making, knitting. You get the picture.

While classes can give you a structure for a creative activity (see my Writing Circle at The Stamford Arts Centre in January!), taking a class should not be the only time you are creative.

Part of the joy of having 24 hours each day is that you get to choose how you spend the hours. Or do you?

Often the list of chores and responsibilities is overwhelming, and you are left with no time nor energy for anything other than falling into bed each night exhausted, especially if you have children.

OK, time to change all that! In this column, I’ll be encouraging you to take some creative action that inspires you, and fills your empty tank. I don’t want the only sparkle in your home to come from your Christmas tree lights ...

When you give yourself time to be creative you generate space to reflect, to pause, to slow down in these busy times, especially as you approach Christmas craziness.

It’s in the slow down that you not only regenerate your energy, but you also get new ideas. Initially these may seem ordinary - “I must write to cousin Sheila”, but over time, and with daily practice, you will notice other ideas cropping up. Pay attention to these because they will be the gems.

Instead of starting each day in a rush, start by looking at one of your favourite art or photography books.

As Ilse Crawford says in her book, Sensual Home, “what the artist does is to create things that excite our senses. It’s not the style of what they do but the fact that they dig deep into our psyche, our primitive side.”

We all have a creative side, and when we see something that sparks this, it unlocks our voice. When we are in touch with this voice, we feel, inspired, and ready for action!

That’s the time to get out your notebook and pen because you will be brimming with ideas! With increasing wealth and urbanisation societies tend to lose their cultural connection, and instead become passive consumers.

Creativity is left to artists, and taken out of the realm of the every day. I want you to bring it back into your daily life, even if it is only writing letters with pen and ink, or taking time to arrange some flowers in a vase.

Virginia Woolf said that we all need a room of our own in which to write. Start this week by designating a ‘creative corner’ in your home for yourself. Use your creative corner selfishly, and with joy - to read, write and reflect! You may be surprised what pops up.

Sensual Home: Liberate Your Senses and Change Your Life by Ilse Crawford, Quadrille, 1998