On Balancing Creative Pursuits

As a child, I spent the school holidays with my grandparents, where I grew up with a mixture of gardening, painting and rambling. But each holiday, we would visit a nature-y place, and take a creative class. Throughout the years, I learned to sew, cross-stitch, cook, and paint.

I took Art in secondary school, where I stuck chicken wire on a box for “3D” and struggled to paint a wolf on canvas. I found the waiting between layers of paint more interesting than the painting, and I’ve never really found joy in sewing. I enjoyed drawing, but had very little skill, which has always been frustrating.

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I started writing novels in 2009, and have written around 700,000 words across 11 novels, not including non-fiction, short fiction, and the multiple drafts of each story. It’s the one creative pursuit which seems to have stuck, and even in ‘lulls’ I returned to projects – cross-referencing the novel with my outline so I can pick up where I left off when the time/energy/focus returns.

Of all the creative things I’ve tried, only my writing and my sketchpad has following me through my three house moves to my current place.

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Recently I’ve picked up my sketchpad and a 5H pencil, and found some pictures to copy. I’ve never had official drawing classes, and I tend to do best with perspective. But the fact I wanted to pick up that pencil again, as I do every 4-5 months, always gets me thinking about creativity, and my role as a learner of creative skills.

I’m not a great artist, but each time I return to the pursuit, I look up some new technique and try to teach myself for a week. Then the sketchpad fades under a pile of novel notes only to be found a few weeks later and put away.

But when my writing is at a halt, it is those pictures which remind me that I am inherently a creative being — and no matter how much skill I have, the importance is that I continue to make art, in whatever form I choose.

How do you assign time to your creativity?

Do you make art outside of writing?

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