design matters | tips for creativity, part 1

Last week, the amazing Caylee was kind enough to feature me in her "Hello Lovely" series (you can read the post HERE). One of the questions she sent me was what are your creative tips?

I quickly jotted down the list you see pictured above without thinking much about it. I let it sit for a couple of days before deciding to photograph it as-is. I'd never given it much thought, but this list really represents not only my creative process in a nutshell but also how I approach many areas of my life. Imagine that. Anyway, I thought it might be fun to unpack it over a couple of posts. 

| 1 | Keep it simple

This is a must for me, and I think about it in two ways. The first relates to style. If you've seen my Project Life layouts, you know that I don't do any embellishing. I stick to photo templates and maybe some digital elements here and there to fancy-up my pages, but that's about it. When I designed Owen's birth announcement, I deliberately kept it simple with just a hairline border and two words on the photo. That's it.

This might seem counterintuitive to the concept of being creative, but keeping things simple helps me continue moving forward with projects. It also reminds me to stick to my personal style, which is pretty simple in general. I believe that less is more, and I realize that's not everyone's style, but it's what works for me. 

Keep it simple also refers to how I generally approach creative endeavors. Here's the thing: if you love gold glitter, then maybe you stick to gold glitter and avoid buying 14 other colors of glitter. If you scrapbook using Project Life, maybe you stick to two core kits instead of seven. You can keep things simple and still embellish away! Pick a few of your favorite fonts and use them over and over. Choose the two projects you want to complete and do them. Simple doesn't have to mean boring and it doesn't even have to refer to style. It just means figuring out what you like and then doing that, rather than trying to do everything.

| 2 | Establish routines and make creativity a habit

I've struggled with this since having baby number two, but I feel passionately about it. Creativity doesn't just happen randomly, at least not to me. My days are filled with a million things on the to-do list that have nothing to do with being creative. So I have to be intentional about building the time into my life. If you're interested in learning calligraphy, you have to make the time to learn it in your day, week, month or year. Perhaps you can't spend an hour a day practicing (who can?!), but maybe you can sign up for a workshop next month and devote a Saturday afternoon to learning and practicing with a group or online. That's great! Put it on the calendar and make it a part of your routine.

I usually think of habits as things I have to do but don't necessarily want to, like flossing or sweeping the kitchen floor every night. Boring! Why not make a habit out of doing something creative? Take a family photo each month, color with your kids on Saturday mornings, spend ten minutes on Pinterest in the evening. Whatever your medium, when you make it a habit and spend a little bit of time consistently doing it, you'll have something to look forward to and you'll work a part of your brain you may be neglecting.

Making a habit out of creativity and building it into your life isn't about the amount of time you spend on a project. It's about consistency and commitment. For example, I love photo editing and creating photobooks, but I have like zero time to "catch-up" on past events. Rather than getting overwhelmed with everything I haven't done, I decided to keep it simple (see tip no. 1!) and choose just one project to complete this summer, which is actually a photobook documenting last summer.

I have it on my calendar to work on it one evening each week next month since this month is just a little too full of good things already. I know I'll get it done, or at least make some progress on it next month, which means it's out of my head and no longer weighing on me. I'm actually looking forward to having the time scheduled to work on it! When we leave creativity to chance, it winds up on the back-burner. 

| 3 | Embrace imperfection

Oh, boy, this one is tough for me. I can be a bit of a perfectionist - and not in a humble-brag kind of way. More like in a really-irritating-to-my-husband-sometimes kind of way! The older I get, the more I can see how destructive perfectionism can be. It's paralyzing because it basically says something isn't worth doing unless it's done just so. Well, I think that's complete junk. Easier said than done for me, but I've come a long way.

When I allow my perfectionism to creep into the creative process, I get stuck in a major way. I can't finish things because my perfectionist tendencies tell me they can always be a little bit better. At some point, I just have to let go and finish. What I've also begun to understand about creativity (and maybe life in general, but let's not get crazy!) is that it's designed to be messy. I absolutely love reading the posts from Caylee and company's Get Messy art journal series. Their pages are all different, they're imperfect, and they're interesting.

I was on a webinar with Lara Casey a few weeks ago when she said that perfection is boring. I completely agree. What's interesting about things being perfectly symmetrical? Or perfectly aligned? And who says that each Project Life spread has to be the best ever? Order is beautiful to me, but it's not always interesting, and it certainly isn't a requirement that every creative project be my favorite ever. The sooner I let go of this, the more quickly I can move on and make room for new (and imperfect) ideas.

I'll post part two next Wednesday. In the meantime, what are your creative tips? Any words of wisdom that guide your process?