I love this time of year. I was just telling someone that there is something about the holiday season that gets me into high creativity mode. Dozens of ideas come flooding to me, for writing, for art, for crafts. I feel inspired like I do at no other time. And it overflows into other parts of life as well. I feel inspired to do house projects, to revamp my son's homeschooling curriculum. To cook and bake. But what is it about this time of year that primes my pump so much, so to speak?
I wanted to take a closer look at this, because if this can happen at this time, why not at other times of the year? The holidays for me are more about family and friends and coming together than they are about religion. They are about giving, and comfort, and warmth. So why is my creativity at an all time high at this time? All the things are nice in and of themselves, but why do I get story ideas more often, why do I seem to be able to accomplish three times more than usual?
I paid attention to what I did on a daily basis, thinking perhaps I could find the answer there. But between all the baking, crocheting, sewing, and other things I had to do to get presents for people completed by the holidays, I lost track of what I did differently.
Hmm... Wait a minute.
Throughout the rest of the year, I lament not having time to do much of my artwork, or even writing, with my day job in publishing and publicity. And especially this year, when I do have time, it takes me forever to get into the project. My brain just can't shift into creative mode after dealing with numbers and analytical work all day. But this month, I've had to MAKE time to do creative endeavors, because that's what so many of my friends' gifts consist of: handmade gifts and baking. I've made a scarf, a shawl, a quilt, cookies, peppermint bark, breads, jewelry....more than I have managed to accomplish the entire year before this. And, oddly enough, even though I am doing all of my day job stuff, PLUS all of this extra creative work, at night, ideas for my book come flooding in and I end up spending more time writing then as well. That hasn't happened for months--my writing time had become this thing of structured drudgery almost.
So how did this happen? Well, when I crochet, what is there for my mind to do but wander into storyland? I noticed that more often than not, as I crocheted, I would think up stories and characters and adventures. Then I'd feel like I had to write them down. I realized that this process was exactly what made me decide to embrace writing in the first place, and it was refreshing. It's pretty obvious that creativity spawns more creativity. When you are in the habit of thinking a certain way, it becomes easier. I had been in the habit of analytical thinking for so long, without stretching my creative limbs, that even when I tried to do creative work, my analytical mind took over, making truly creative work all the more difficult.
With the holidays and a deadline by which I had to get all these gifts done, it forced me to get into the creative space in my mind, despite the fact that I still had as much day job stuff to do as ever. And oddly enough, I had time to do all of it without feeling stressed. I had a plan of attack for the projects, and I did them.
Now the question is, how can I harness this creative power so I could use this momentum all year? Well, I think the answer is pretty simple. Don't change anything. Live every month like it's December. Commit to doing at least one creative project a month. Make art!
I'm going to give this a shot. If I can do one month, I can do it for the rest of them as well. I think the key is not to just do creative work, but do the things I LOVE to do, do the things that make me happy, that make me a better person.
Your conquests won't be the same as mine. Maybe you love painting, or podcasting, or maybe you love running numbers. All these things require aptitude at using a certain brain space, whether it's creative or analytical, or a combination of both. By practicing using those skills with OTHER related projects, you'll be able to improve your skills with your desired project that perhaps you are stuck on. At worst, you'll still be doing things you enjoy while getting into the proper brain space to do what you need to do. Will I still have writer's block? I'm sure I will. All writers get stuck from time to time. But I think this experiment of making time to do things that require creative skills will not only improve my skills, but will improve my outlook on life immensely. I'll be doing things that matter to me instead of feeling like I'm wasting my life away doing things that might I might make a living at but that don't satisfy me. I feel like I've rediscovered myself this month, that I remember the things that make me happy, after a long dry spell.
I think it's too easy for us to claim that we have no time for the things we care about, while spending hours watching kitten videos on social media. Too often we reach for comfort from superficial things, things that will give us pleasure in the moment but not in the long term. Why not make a resolution to do things that matter in 2017? If 2016 has taught us anything, it's that time and life are fleeting things, and we can never reclaim things once they have passed. Our lives are precious--why squander them doing things that don't matter?
Make EVERY time of year the most wonderful time by being sure to do what matters most to you, and cutting back on the things that are simply a waste of time. It might take some practice at first, to find balance, but it will all be worth it.
Melanie R. Meadors is an author of fantasy where heroes don't always carry swords and knights in shining armor often lose to nerds who study their weaknesses. She is a blogger at The Once and Future Podcast, a professional author publicist, and associate publisher for Ragnarok Publications. You can find her at her website, melaniermeadors.com, on Facebook, and Twitter, @melaniermeadors.