on being creative

Image by Esther Aarts via My Modern Met
I fancy myself a creative person. I like to write, and I have a good eye and an interest in crafts. I mean, you should see my Pinterest boards. I have pinned some seriously awesome ideas for projects. That counts, right? 

The inconvenient thing about being "creative" is that you actually have to create stuff. I spend a stupid amount of time sitting around thinking about how much I enjoy the creative side of my brain and, gee, what does that mean about how I should spend my life, how should that shape my identity, and am I actually all that clever or do I just like looking at pretty things? Ira Glass said every person he knows that's doing good, creative work started out with little more than good taste. You have to just start making stuff and eventually what you are making will catch up to what you want to be making. 

But what if you don't know what you want to make? Or who you want to be? Joy Deangdeelert Cho, founder of Oh Joy, talks about the value of trying new things until you've carved out a clearer image of what you really love.

This is also something we're told in Austin Kleon's book, Steal Like An Artist, about creativity in this generation. It's a valuable little manifesto. Here are three things he says that I am holding on to:
  • Don't wait until you know who you are to get started. 
  • Use your hands.
  • Side projects and hobbies are important. 
If you wait until you know who you are to do anything, you will wait forever. Allow yourself to work with your hands and engage in random projects and see where they lead your mind. When I am working on, say, a sewing project, I am so intensely focused it's almost like meditating. This is partly because I don't really know how to sew so I have to pay very close attention. But it's also the action of doing something with my hands and constructing an actual physical object from scratch that totally transports me to a mental place where I will not want to check Facebook incessantly or otherwise waste my time. This, I think, is valuable in and of itself.

It's my hope that staying on top of a blog will help me stay creative. And if all I end up with is a few handmade treasures for my little home, that's just fine.


  1. This is how you find your inner bliss! Anyone can do it. Love you and your new blog, Shan.

    1. Thanks Kathy! Your sewing room was always so magical to me when I was a kid. I still remember that lamp full of spools of thread.

  2. Now I need to stop reading fabulous new blogs and start up my knitting again...after a 4 year hiatus!

    1. Audrey, I didn't know you could knit! I'm super impressed by knitters. You should definitely pick it up again! Make some of those knitting projects on The Purl Bee that I'm always drooling over.. http://www.purlbee.com/


Thanks for saying hi!