Pamper Your Creativity

“You have to acknowledge that you’re worthy of time that’s just for you and that your art’s worthy of this time,” says artist Tera Leigh. “Otherwise you’ll get bogged down with the million other things you’ve got going.” So, send your family out for holiday shopping, unplug the TV and prepare for playtime. Forget about deadlines and checking things off your to-do list. Relax and spend a day experimenting and enjoying your creative energy. With the help of a few creativity experts, I came up with an itinerary for a day dedicated to nurturing your muse.

Before you begin, be sure to plan ahead. The following suggestions will get you in good shape for your creative exploration.

Gather your tools. Decide what you’re going to do and gather the supplies you need. Place them all together in a box. The last thing you want to do on your day of indulgence is scour art stores for the right tools.

Clean the house. Don’t let clutter distract you from the day’s purpose. If you wake up with at least a semiclean house, you’re more likely to stick to your plans.

Kick everyone out. Turn off the phones and make sure your family members or roommates have somewhere else to be. Let them, as well as friends and co-workers, know that you’ll be unavailable for the day.

Be reasonable. This is the day you’ve set aside to explore your creativity; now’s not the time to paint the next Mona Lisa. Set goals for things you want to try but not necessarily complete. “One of the biggest factors that stifles creativity is expectations and assumptions about how things should turn out,” says Leigh. “If I just sit down and say, I’m going to have a creativity day and I’m going to complete all of these things, that’s not a creativity day, that’s a workday.”

Here are two ideas for your first hour at your creative “spa”:

9 a.m. Wake Up
Rise and shine! Your day of creative indulgence is here. You can’t play on an empty stomach, so get up and make your way to the kitchen. But don’t reach for your bran flakes. Instead, feast on pizza or try some leftover chicken and rice. Being creative means breaking out of your routine. So skip the cereal and try waking up your mouth and your mind with a surprise. If the thought of pizza before noon is too much, stick with traditional breakfast foods that are new to you. Never eaten a papaya or mango? Now’s your chance. In addition to experimenting with new foods, creativity author Lynn Gordon recommends eating breakfast under the table to start off the day looking at the world in a new way.

9:30 a.m. Crank It Up
After breakfast, steer clear of the dishes. Housework will consume your time and get you off track if you let it. Instead, head for the living room and crank up the stereo. Start out with a CD that always energizes you. Or perhaps there’s something more exotic than your usual road trip fare that’s in order, like the Gypsy Kings or mambo classics. (If you’re feeling adventurous later, you might delve into something you don’t quite understand, like your teen’s Limp Bizkit CD.) Turn it up full blast and start tearing the cushions off the couch. Pull in the chairs from the kitchen and grab some covers from the closet and build a fort. That’s right, a fort. Remember all those Saturday mornings when you tucked sheets into the couch and draped them over anything that would stand still to create your army base or wilderness headquarters? “I love regressive behavior,” says Gordon. “Getting back to a childlike sense of play is a great way to spark your creativity.”

Tera Leigh is a freelance writer and decorative artist living in the San Francisco area. Her book, The Complete Book of Decorative Painting (North Light Books), was recently released. You can visit her Web site at www.teraswish.com.

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