Creative Spaces

creativespaces

I’m not sure if it was the labour itself, or perhaps the new event of being forced to sit, with little to do for long periods of time, but when I became a mother, I had a new, insatiable creative itch. Stories, ideas, thoughts, concepts, images swam through my mind. I longed to take a net, and capture them.

But between wrapping a baby, carrying a baby, feeding a baby, walking a baby around the town, and rocking a baby to sleep, it seemed I had little to no opportunity to cast a creative net. It was frustrating, because the pool seemed so deep, yet so alive with life. All I needed was five minutes – an hour, to reach in, and catch what I needed.

Around that time, my great and amazing friend Fritha was starting her journey as a life coach, and was looking for someone to test her new skills with. My arm, tired from carrying child, shot into the air, as if coffee hung from a cloud above.

One hour chat with Fritha changed everything. The first thing was identifying what I really wanted. Was it to amble around the lake, admiring the fish? No. It was to lower the net, and start making something happen.

What was stopping me? So much, I asserted. A baby. And all her many needs. I have absolutely no time.

She encouraged me to look at my week, not as a whole, but in fractions.

‘So, when are you having these creative thoughts?’ she asked.

‘Walking the pram.’

‘How often is that, would you say?’

‘Most days. Twenty minutes to town and back.’

‘OK. So that’s seven days. Forty minutes. So at minimum, you are spending two-hundred and eighty minutes being creative a week?’

It sounded like a lot. But it was true. I started to get excited. Where else were these creative pockets?

Hanging clothes. Washing up. Rocking baby to sleep in the dark. The creative minutes piled up before me.

‘And what time does Baby go to sleep at night?’

‘Around seven.’

‘Then?’

Then… well, exactly. Then. Then my creative life really began. All those thoughts accumulated through the day, baskets of creative fish writhing and alive, were waiting. And all I had to do was open my computer, and let them free.

It was a wonderful feeling.

I discovered blogging around that time. I blogged most nights. Not because I felt I had to. Simply because I had to. The need was irrepressible. My husband kindly washed dishes while I wrote short stories and posts. The accumulative effect of being creative was like a snowball, ever growing the more I rolled.

In recent years, I haven’t had a structured nine-to-five job. My work day has been broken over many hours and days, a week fragmented into slices of parenting and shards of work. I worked when I could, and parented around work. But thanks to my early conversations with Fritha, creativity was never far from hand.

I’d sit down to work, and before launching into a project, would quickly tap out a blog post that had been burning within. Between dishes and folding the washing, I squeezed out a status update. Or maybe jotted down the outline of a picture book. Creative ideas were everywhere, as long as I was looking.

As busy as we were, technically, my week was bursting to the seams with creative space.

The richest space of all, ironically, came from what was otherwise the hardest hour of my day.

As a constant do-er, I found lying down with my kids to help them sleep initially lovely and wonderful, but later challenging, the longer it took. Some nights, lying beside my eldest, waiting an hour and a half for the wiggles to cease seemed like a small torture, as lovely as she is. I longed to get on with my night.

But then I let my mind sink into a creative space. The richest, deepest most wonderful creative lake there was in my week. Stories formed, almost in tact. Blog posts too. Entrepreneurial ideas I felt convinced would change the world. My subconscious was in overdrive and having the time of its life.

And as soon as the child’s arms finally became heavy, I lifted them off, and turned my thoughts into words on a page.

My life as a parent is never static. Nor is my husband and my work schedules. Things are forever changing, particularly this year, as we travel Europe with two small children, and no official address, taking life as it comes.

My creative spaces are sometimes elusive, and harder to find. Lately, they’ve appeared in the swimming pool, in the forest, running through the gardens and at seven in the morning, when I am the only one in the house awake.

The important thing about catching fish though is to do it. If I harness that creativity when its there, it grows.

Where are your creative spaces in the week? 

  • Mine are in pockets all through the day now but they began as a trickle. Xxx

  • Hello there, how exciting to be off on an adventure, it will be thilling to come along as an armchair traveller. My kids are all at school and we have teens, the evenings have gone but the daytime is there waiting… lovely.

  • Such a perfect post for me this week (thank you!) I love the idea of looking at the week in fractions – something I’m going to try and do xx

    • Glad it inspired you and hope you found what you were looking for in the week xx

  • How exciting to go on a big trip with the family. I scribble things down when I can, usually while the kids our outside playing, I find a bit of sunshine and write.

  • Yes, I know how you feel Zanni! With my second baby I am finding that while I lie down to settle him my imagination is bubbling with ideas. My mind goes at such a fast pace, thinking of stories, ideas, projects, art. Everywhere i go I feel like this, it is such an energy and passion. It really is so empowering to realise that it doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing, your mind can be creating. Anna Feinburg (Author of the ‘Tashi’ series’) describes these ideas as like dreams; if we don’t write them down they are forgotten. Just yesterday I know I thought of something great but I can’t remember what it is!

    • I love that description. You definitely need to make the most of that inspiration. It’s golden x

  • I love this post. I was a bit the same – once I had babies my creative went into overdrive. I took to carrying a notebook and pen with me everywhere and scribbled thoughts, ideas, etc, (this was in the day before iPhones and blogs!). Then when I found pockets of time I turned them into magazine articles and even sold some of them. That was how my writing life began over 20 years ago now 🙂

    Visiting from #teamIBOT X

    • Don’t you love when creativity actually pays?!

  • I love this post, Zanni! I can totally understand where you’re coming from. It wasn’t until having babies that I needed a creative outlet more than ever. It was what helped me come of the fog of the first 8 months of motherhood and now it drives me to work smarter and harder so that the time I do get to be creative is maximised. And the more I follow that creativity and give it room to breath, the bigger it grows. For me, my most creative and productive time is always late at night, in the stillness, when everyone else is asleep and there are no distractions from children, husbands or facebook. It means I don’t get lots of sleep, but I know that if I go to bed without first doing a bit of creative work then it will just keep me awake anyway as all of the ideas swirl through my brain!

    • I’ve become more of a night owl out of necessity too Kylie. I never used to get how people could work at night, now I completely get it!

  • Love, love, love this post!!! You paint such a magical picture. I try to cast my net whenever I can 🙂 x

  • Liesbeth Wieggers

    Thank you for the inspiring post Zanni. It was just yesterday that I realized (and maybe it was because of what you said during our coaching-session) that I get so many ideas and inspiration for stories while I am ‘out and about’; cycling, traveling by train of tram. And yesterday I decided to take a notebook with me all the time, so that I can write these things down. Beautiful gifts coming from the universe, when you keep your eyes and ears open!

    Liesbeth Wieggers

    • Indeed! I love biking too for that reason. And running. Blood flow definitely encourages creative juices!

  • What a great post Zanni. I resonate with this so much. When I became a parent was when my creative juices kicked in too. A desire to create – for me, to write. Now I have more time in my day with the girls at school and I’ve structured myself so that writing is a priority. I was hopeless trying to find little bits of time here and there, although I did because I have no choice. Now my creative times are more frequent and I love it.

    • Yes you certainly appreciate it when you get it! Xx

  • I’m envious of your ability to tap into it so consistently Zanni. Whilst I often have create ideas, by the time the house is quiet at the end of the day I am far too exhausted to do anything with them. My soul has really suffered at times because of this and because creativity is so fundamentally apart of my identity. For me, I can see a time coming when it will be easier and I will be able to do things more freely so for now I do when I can and remind myself to be patient that there are more times ahead x

    • Ah you are in a very particular time in your life Vicki! And of course that time will come. When kids start school you’ll probably cherish every minute! X

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