I’m pretty sure I was born with the desire to create things. Growing up, I loved art and was constantly making things — which led to becoming an art major in college, and a graphic designer and photographer in my career.
While artistic abilities have always come naturally to me, however, creative ideas have not. I have definitely struggled with my share of creative blocks, both before kids and after. Freelancing and owning your own business, while also keeping up with the demands of motherhood, only seems to make time more precious and the pressures even stronger.
So while I may not have all the answers for staying creative in this demanding phase of life, here are a few things I’ve learned that help foster my creativity:
If every waking minute of your day is spent doing something (laundry, feeding kids, responding to emails, etc.), it’s difficult to suddenly be creative and get in that headspace when you really need to be. I am the worst at feeling like I have to be doing something productive all of the time, instead of choosing to take time for myself or allowing myself to do nothing.
Creativity takes time and space to develop, and it’s important to make room in your schedule to allow that to happen to prevent yourself from becoming mentally exhausted. (This article backs up that theory as well.) It may mean you have a messier house than you’d like some days, but do what you need to do!
A few months after I graduated college, I started working as an assistant creative director in the marketing office of a university. I absolutely loved it and had the opportunity to do both photography and graphic design. But about 6 years into that job, doing the exact same things every single year left me feeling burned out.
I decided to go back to school and get a master’s degree in photography–partially to expand my resume, but mostly to challenge myself and learn new skills. And I absolutely loved it. I started pushing myself more creatively, really discovered my artistic voice as a photographer, and that crossed over into my day job. Going back to school reminded me that I loved to create with my hands, and I missed the variety of mediums I worked with as an art major in college.
Now, working with my husband, I’ve had to take on many different roles and learn new things, mostly on the business side of our workshop. But I am also taking the time to continue to work with my hands and challenge myself with new creative outlets. I recently picked up this book, and am trying to carve out a few minutes each day just to draw.
Social media makes it SO EASY to feel insecure about your own creative abilities when you see so many beautiful posts with perfect photos, hand-lettering, illustrations and more.
While it’s great to surround yourself with things that inspire you and push you to create better work, don’t allow it to make you feel inferior. Feeling insecure about your own work only contributes to mental blocks and can stall creativity.
It can be a struggle to get in the right headspace to work on creative projects, so sometimes you just have to jump right in. In an interview with 60 Minutes, Lin-Manuel Miranda said:
“…you write until the rust comes out of the faucet and it’s clear water.”
Same goes with any creative act. Just get started. Odds are it won’t immediately be the masterpiece you’ve got in your head, but you’ll never end up with anything unless you take the time to get the rust out of the faucet. Get to making. Something. Anything. We need you and your voice in this world.
Kristi Montague is a designer, maker and jack-of-all-trades who owns and operates Montague Workshop, a creative studio, with her husband Brad. From Kid President to books and birds and more, their studio aims to joyfully rebel against the world that is to create the world that could be. She’s also a mama two toddlers and lives in a 117-year-old house in rural Tennessee. You can follow her on Instagram, and see the latest projects from Montague Workshop on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
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