An excellent way to nourish ourselves is to connect to our creativity, to follow what we’re curious about, to use our hands (and hearts), to let our imagination run wild and free.
This is especially important if we’ve been struggling lately. It’s especially important if we’re feeling disconnected from ourselves, unsure about who we are, numb to our feelings, or like a stranger in our own skin. It’s especially important if we’re convinced that we’re too busy, particularly way too busy for ourselves, particularly way too busy for something as “frivolous” as a creative project (even if it’s a minuscule one).
Starting a teeny, tiny project is powerful because even just 5 minutes of creating helps us to reconnect to ourselves, to who we are (or qualities we’d like to further explore), to what’s meaningful to us. And, while this might sound overly dramatic, I believe creating—in whatever shape or form—can feed our souls.
Below, you’ll find seven ideas for teeny, tiny projects you might start today:
- Find a unique way to create poetry. I’m a huge fan of Kate Baer’s poetry (which you can find on Instagram and on her website). Recently, she started transforming her followers’ comments into short poems. Here’s a recent one: “As a girl who wished to exist, I never thought of my body. But after birth, I am strong. I get back up after crashing. I take up space. My body and yours.” What unique sources can you use to create your own poetry? Maybe the idea is super silly or outlandish. Good.
- Use a watercoloring set. Watercolors are notoriously hard to work with. They’re just so darn inexact and unpredictable and fluid. That’s also a good thing, especially if you tend toward perfectionism (and anxiety and self-criticism, and an inability to forgive yourself for existing). Because something as small as working with watercolors helps us to give up control. It helps us to embrace mistakes. It helps us adopt a playful perspective. Set a timer for just 5 minutes, and play with a few watercolors of your choice.
- Draw what catches your eye. Do this every day. Simply carry a small notebook, along with a writing utensil with you everywhere and anywhere you go. Draw anything that you find yourself paying attention to (and give yourself 5 or 10 minutes, or even one minute, to sketch it out).
- Document the day in senses. Every day make a quick list of what you’re seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, and touching. Or pick a single sense to focus on each day, and jot that down.
- Focus on lines. This is a wonderful suggestion from Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama in the forthcoming book Tate Create: Things to Make & Do (out on October 1st, 2019): Look carefully at the different lines of your face, and do the same for your friends. Then draw them. I love this because in addition to paying closer attention to our loved ones—really looking at them—this activity invites us to look at our own lines, at ourselves, with curiosity and wonder, versus frustration, contempt, and disgust.
- Focus on nature. Kusama also suggests going outside, noticing the different shapes in your natural surroundings, and drawing them. Another tiny project is to find a favorite landscape (or flower, tree, bird), and “draw your own using polka dots and lines,” according to Kusama.
- Capture inspiration. Every day, listen for bits of conversation that somehow interest or inspire you. Look for words in articles or quotes in books that also somehow interest and inspire you. Jot them down in a special notebook. You also might jot down exactly why those words resonate with you.
Consider a tiny project that might extend beyond your comfort zone, or a project that uses a different tool, technique, or perspective than you’re familiar with, or a project that you think you’d never ever do (but realize you actually want to). Because something beautiful happens when we let go, and we play, and we experiment, and we simply stop being so self-conscious about what we produce.
And part of that something beautiful is that we listen to ourselves, we pay attention to what we pay attention to, and we use our voices.
What could be more powerful than that?