Facing uncertainty and choosing positive stories

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

When faced with the uncertainty in artmaking, you may find yourself believing in the story that you’re not good enough. Jonathan Fields in How To Live a Good Life suggests “When we enter a place of uncertainty, we tend to start spinning stories that predict failure endlessly in our heads… consider a different story. One fuelled by possibility rather than defeat.” What if instead of believing you’re not creative, you chose the opposite story that you ARE creative? What if you took all the negative (and unhelpful) stories around your art and created opposite positive stories?

  • “My art is too messy, it’s bad” becomes “I love how free it feels to have a safe place be messy.”
  • “I can’t draw properly” becomes “I’m a beginner so it’s understandable I’m not an expert drawer yet: Practice over time builds confidence and skills.”
  • “I shouldn’t spend time on something that’s unproductive” becomes “I enjoy time spent making art so it is therefore valuable to me.”

You always have a choice about which version you pick. You also have the choice between uncertainty and certainty. David Bayles and Ted Orland in Art and Fear explain “In the end it all comes down to this: you have a choice (or more accurately a rolling tangle of choices) between giving your work your best shot and risking that it will not make you happy, or not giving it your best shot – and thereby guaranteeing that it will not make you happy. It becomes a choice between certainty and uncertainty. And curiously, uncertainty is the comforting choice.”

Choosing the uncertainty of art making is always a better option than the certainty of not making anything all.

The ripple effect to spread light

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

Making your own art can have some wonderful side effects that might just inspire others to embrace their own creativity. By embracing your own creativity, the ripple effect can cause small positive changes for others in your life. Jonathan Fields in How To Live a Good Life explains “It’s the path of the ripple. Simple actions, movements, and experiences. Created, offered, and delivered with such a purity of intention and depth of integrity and clarity that they set in motion a ripple that, quietly, in its own way, in its own time, expands outward.”

Dr Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire in Wired To Create encourage us to embrace our strange messy selves and our creativity: “When we embrace our own messiness – engaging with the world with our own unique imagination and artistry – we give others permission to do the same.” We could all do with giving ourselves permission to regularly be more creative because tapping into our creativity allows us to create more connection to ourselves, and subsequently to others. “We help create a world that is more welcoming of the creative spirit and, it is hoped, make it possible to find a greater connection with ourselves and others in the process.”

Just by practicing your art making, you may be inspiring others to do the same. The creative force – the light that shines out of us when we create – may be reaching people in ways you could never anticipate. Don’t underestimate the small, silent ways you may be effecting others because as Marge Piercy advises, “You never know when your poem will come to someone’s rescue.”

Doing nothing as an antidote for burnout

The Sparkle Experiment small creative play equals connection

“It seems obvious, but when did you last take time out of your busy day simply to sit and think?” Asks Greg McKeown in Essentialism. “I’m talking about deliberately setting aside distraction-free time in a distraction-free space to do absolutely nothing other than to think.”

With everyone walking around with a portable computer in their back pocket, constant distraction is at your finger tips every single second of the day. It now takes more willpower and intention NOT to touch your phone when you’re bored than it does to be fully immersed in your daily surroundings during ‘waiting’ periods. Distraction or entertainment – however you wish to frame it – allows you to soothing escape whenever you feel the pang of boredom. McKeown argues that people don’t enjoy being bored “But by abolishing any change of being bored we have also lost the time we used to have to think and process.”

Zooming out from our smart phones, the ‘busyness’ epidemic is currently rife via the rat race, multitasking and being available to everyone at all times, to name a few. Jonathan Fields in How to Live a Good Life explains “By the time we reach adulthood, we’re so distracted by the pull of speed, connectivity, expectations, and rules, we lose the ability to see and experience what’s right in front of us. We become 99 percent unaware, and in doing so we lose the ability to choose and to act rather than react.” Fields suggests mindfulness as a antidote to this lack of awareness. “Mindfulness is about slowing down, noticing and seeing what is really happening in front of you in this moment, without the anxiety of expectation or the haze of regret.”

Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi in Creativity echoes the idea of slowing down: “You should just indulge in the luxury of reflection for its own sake. Whether you intend it or not, new ideas and conclusions will emerge in your consciousness anyway – and the less you try to direct the process the more creative they are likely to be.”

Regularly taking pauses to stop and think will also long term allow you to avoid future burnout. When you get completely cooked you’re forced to take a giant break – one that makes up for all the times your subconscious asked for a break and you ignored it. Save yourself that cooked feeling and allow yourself to regularly slow down.