Any mom will tell you — creating something as significant as a child is all fun and games… until it’s not.
First trimester sickness, fatigue, medical appointments, swollen feet, food cravings—these are just the prelude to childbirth, where hard work and struggle are par for the course. And yet, despite the risks and discomfort, throughout history, women have kept on having babies, because the rewards are worth every bit of struggle.
As a creative maker, I feel a lot of parallels between motherhood and my creative pursuits.
Making beauty is often a messy process.
It always starts with a spark of inspiration, where I have an idea for something more beautiful than I’ve ever made, and while there’s a predictable process, just like pregnancy and labour there are always hiccups, abandoned processes, and usually a late night or two of stressing about some aspect of the finished product.
Maybe that’s just me.
But I think a lot of creativity is a beauty-full mess.
We humans were created to create. So, how do we get comfortable with the mess of creating? Here are some of the things I’ve found helpful:
- Grow blinders.
When you’ve got something that needs to be brought into reality from nothing but your imagination, life will throw all kinds of things in your path to send off on rabbit trails, and away from making it happen. We all know someone who would be an author, if they just had time to write.The thing is, life will always have plenty to distract us. Hone in on what you value most. For me, curiosity and a love for beauty are the driving force in my creative pursuits, and I try to run every decision through the filter of those two. If something doesn’t satisfy those two objectives for me, it gets tabled.
- Commit to clean up the mess afterward.
About once a month, I attend an event as a handmade vendor. Prepping for these events is always a process, with predictable steps. But the one predictable thing is that something will go wrong, and I’ll have to adapt. This usually means I keep my inventory organized, but materials can end up in the weirdest places, and because I do much of my work at the dining room table, the dining room is left with a pile of scrap yarn under the table, labels and tools spread out where they were easy at hand when crunch time came.It’s an organized mess.This drove me crazy at first. I thought creativity should happen in the well-lit studios pictured on Etsy, where everything has its place and is always put away. I spent so much time and energy trying to keep everything in its place that I lost valuable creative time to putting things away. I’ve found if I remind myself that I’ll be cleaning up this mess at the end, it helps me stay focused. And it’s very gratifying to come home from a show, and put everything away, vacuum the floor, and have a cup of tea in the newly-cleaned space.
- Take time to admire your work.
This might sound narcissistic, but it doesn’t have to be. I think it’s incredibly important. I dye wool, and I often dream up a colour combination and want to try it, but imagination is just not the same as reality.There is nothing more gratifying than seeing something in reality that started out as imagination. During my busy times, I consciously try to take the time to admire the colours, patterns, textures of my work. It serves as a reminder that I’m serving those two fundamental driving instincts: curiosity and beauty.
- And finally, don’t take yourself too seriously.
You’re going to have ideas that flop. You’re going to “just know” an idea is going to be a trendsetter, and end up getting nothing but static. You’re going to spill things, miss deadlines, forget important connections. And that’s ok! Laugh it off. Find the humour in your situation, find a fellow creative to commiserate with, or just take a break and watch something funny on Netflix for an evening.
So, my friends, creating may be messy, but it’s addictive, once you set yourself free to make a mess in service of something beauty. It takes patience and hard work, just like pregnancy and labour do, but the rewards far outweigh the work.
Write your book.
Start your DIY project.
Launch your blog.
You’ve got what it takes to create, and the world will be better for your contribution!
Holly Aamot fell in love with fibre arts when she decided on a whim to learn to crochet so she would have something handmade under the Christmas tree for her daughter. Now she dyes, spins, weaves and creates luxury items from start to finish, blogging and documenting the process of #slowfashion. Follow her joyful creative messes on Instagram at @ilex.every.day