As creatives, we always have a bunch of ideas. And then, inevitably, the situation arises when we attempt to choose to focus on just one thing. For a long time I thought I had to choose. In my experience, I’d enjoy painting for a while, then writing would beg for attention. I felt flaky and created mediocre work trying to stick to painting when writing was calling. Finally I would write, but had lost valuable creative energy fighting it. Then I’d want to delve into natural dyes, knitting, etc, but I would try to keep writing.
“Why am I always changing my mind?” I wondered, “Will I ever find what I really want to do?”
Eventually, I realized there were only three focuses that I cycled through: fiber art/fashion; writing; and fine art, and they were all what I wanted to do. If I allowed them to just flow how they wanted, I would be productive. Read more about that realization here.
Since then, I’ve noticed that being an artist with multiple interests helps me solve problems more easily. The cross-referencing between areas of focus and the collaboration with others facilitates ideas that I may not have discovered if I’d been working solo or on one particular craft.
The work I do with natural dyes influences my paintings; without my natural dye practice, my paintings would not have the depth and textures that they have. Exploring the mysteries of plant and mushroom pigments influences the storyline of a novel, and conversely, the writing of the novel helps me develop the discipline for regular blogging and creation of web content for my fiber arts business. Additionally, the conceptual, participatory art events that my partner and I produce lead me to look differently at what fine art can be and also suggest new ways I can connect with my fiber art business customers.
If you are a creative, even on the side, there are three things you can do to bring your creativity to full fruition:
- Take a look into your history and identify the general areas you want to work in (mine are fiber art/fashion; writing; and fine art)
- Notice what you are interested in right now, and give it your full attention.
- Keep your awareness on when the energy begins to wane, because one of your other creative areas may be trying to come to the forefront. (This is not the same as your work becoming hard—in this case, power through.)
- When you feel that shift, make some notes about where you are in the novel or the series of paintings or whatever, and move on. You’ll be able to pick up where you left off by reading your notes when you come back.
Let all your interests have their day. Besides having more fun, you might be surprised at how they influence each other and how much you can accomplish.