The Perth Writers festival is done and dusted for another year, but my memories are still vivid, and the things I learnt are being practiced daily (cough).
I love the event … it’s a bit like being offered a literary chocolate box.
Everything is a treat and with so many sessions, both paid and free, I have difficulty choosing what to go to next.
Sometimes I meet up with blogging and writer friends, in passing probably, as they are dashing to another talk and sometimes I don’t. And I don’t mind. Because being there is a curious mixture of being happily alone in a busy environment.
Apart from the more literary talks this year, I really enjoyed the sessions about crafting and creativity. I think as we get older we perhaps have a little more yearning to make things, to be creative in some way or another.
In the UK there’s a big shift towards being ‘Makers” and the “Maker Movement” – sounds great, doesn’t it?
Creatives in Perth
I met up with the lovely Pip Lincolne one of Australia’s best known bloggers (Meet Me At Mikes) who’s written several craft books, and then listened to her chat with designer, illustrator and artist Beci Orpen (middle below) and Meri Fatin, about being creative on a daily basis.
What they had to say was inspiring and heartwarming and funny and uplifting ….
Let’s start with inspiration.
Inspiration is kind of nebulous, but Pip and Beci have disciplines around it.
Pip gets up at 5am to have 2 hours to herself each morning. She blocks creative time everyday, to crochet, to embroider, maybe to watch a documentary and definitely to drink lots of tea. “It’s my time, to set a creative intention, and if things go pear shaped later on, it’s okay. People can make demands on me then.”
Beci: “Being creative is instinct for me. Creativity is freedom. I never switch off. I know I have to achieve certain things when I’m in the office, but I still think about my projects all the time. I have to have deadlines otherwise things aren’t going to get done.”
On finding time for creativity
Pip: “I get a lot of ideas but I build my life around ideas and inspiration and creative time, it’s how I live and breathe. I put aside time just so that I don’t think about regular stuff. I like going for a long walk with nothing playing on my phone, but I’ll write things on my phone if I get good stuff come to mind, and sometimes I’ll have 17 ideas, some of which I’ll act on. You need time to just do nothing so that ideas can come. People talk about wasted time and procrastination but sometimes that’s actually the time for digesting ideas or refining ideas and getting used to a project you’re working on.”
Beci: “I ride my bike everywhere I can. Exercise is important for me for mental health and riding my bike is like meditation for me.”
Pip: “I’m always hunting for the pearls of wisdom that people are spouting. Take Cindi Lauper … in a recent interview she said – ‘Take the Braces off your Brain’ – I love that quote, because we are often constrained or on the straight and narrow.”
Bec: “Colour is number one in my work, and research is part of my inspiration. It’s easy to look at a picture and not know the background of that picture. I like to find out who created that picture and what their influences were.”
Pip: “I get obsessed with people and I want know everything about them. I want to know how they felt when they sad that or that and which parts are like me and how we connect to each other creatively.”
On finding ideas
Pip: “I use Pinterest to bookmark ideas, but I don’t go into it much these days as there are so many ideas swirling around – and that means I’m not creating.”
On creative confidence
Beci: “When I’ve given talks I say, ‘Don’t compare yourself to your peers or others. Run your own race, have blinkers on, enjoy other peoples success and be happy for them’, just do what you do, and things will happen to you at their own pace, when they’re meant to happen. Just be nice and work hard.”
Pip: “You just have to assume that people are out there, that they’re relating to what you do, and I don’t know if that’s confidence or not, but you just know that your people are out there and they are going to find you, and people love that because they see that you are just being yourself and trying to do the best you can and there’s an honesty to it, I guess. And people see that and respond to it and want to support it.”
How do you launch a good idea?
Beci: “You just have a germination of an idea. Then you start and you just do it. Be involved, have a stall at a craft market, talk to people, it will happen.”
Pip: “The signature Pip Lincolne is Meet Me at Mikes. You see I have a cat who’s called Mike. She’s not very nice or kind and named after the Beastie Boys. I had a shop that grew into a blog, that grew into a book and into all kinds of fascinating projects. I’m not a strategy type person, I don’t have a manager, nobody helps me with marketing, everything has been organic. I just try to do fun interesting stuff that appeals to me and would appeal to other people and which might connect people to fun, their family or creativity.”
The dailiness of creatives
There are a lot of random elements to creativeness, with lots of balls flying in the air at one time. My desk, my mind, my days are full of random bits of paper and happenings – it was interesting to hear how Beci and Pip actually get stuff done.
Beci: “I try to get to my emails in the morning and when I’m finishing for the day. But my days are all so different. I have lots of lists – lists for the month, week and day, but they change all the time. I don’t like negotiating contracts and difficult clients can be shit, and when people don’t tell you what they want properly it’s not all roses. But So much of my work is 100% love.”
Pip – “I just check my email twice a day. If I’m writing I’ll lose my flow if I get to emails. I put everything into Google Calendar which gives me deadliens and lists of things I should be doing. I am disciplined and I’ll work from 8am till 3pm. But when you work for yourself everything comes at once, and you have to do the work when it’s there. But there’s so much satisfaction. However, sometimes I think, Ohmigod we’re going to be living in a caravan! Not knowing whether you’re going to make the rent is hard, but we try to keep our outgoings down and my approach is to do something that I really love and pare things back so that I don’t have to earn so much money. Try to keep things simple. And turn the freaky insecure feeling at bay so that we hit the baseline every month.”
On their books
Pip: “Craft for the Soul” is my latest book. This book was the one I wanted to write for the last 10 years. The people who have bought it say they love it. I love it because it’s helpful and it helps people make sense of their lives and shows them that they are not alone in their lives, or in their weird families. Originally it was titled, ‘How to be your own best friend and have nice times’. When I wrote it I was thinking there’s no creative life guide out there written by a semi dorkey weird girl, they’re all mostly written by glossy girls or otherwise a bit ‘Woo Woo’, and I thought there needs to be a book for the other kind of girl who isn’t that sort of girl.”
Beci: “Find me a Castle, is my latest book. A picture ‘look and find book’ for kids.
If you could start all over again?
Pip: Start from the heart. It takes along time, but suddenly you look around and think Wow, I think I’m really doing it!
Tips from Pip Lincoln’s Creativity Workshop
If you pop over to Pip’s blog, Meet Me At Mikes, you’ll find a link where you can jump on board one of Pip’s courses. I was lucky to attend her creativity workshop at the Perth Writer’s Festival and here are some of the things I gleaned to share with you today.
How to be creative by Pip
Own the creative part of you and make the most of the creative opportunities in your life. Make time for them. Even if it’s in a very tiny voice.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately,” Henry David Thoreau
Set the intention and the rest will follow.
Decide to have creative adventures every day.
“We find what we are looking for. If we are looking for life and love, and openness and growth, we are likely to find them. Madeleine L’Engle (author of A Wrinkle In Time)
Follow your creative dream and look out for your partners in crime.
Look out for people like you to be with you on the creative adventure.You schedule healthcare, so why not set yourself creative appointments and stick to them too. They make you healthier.
Work less, walk more.
Be alone with yourself and thoughts.
Focus on yourself, your life, dictate ideas into your phone.
Go to bed a bit later. Get up a bit earlier.
Put yourself into your work. Make mistakes, Interpret things in your own way. Don’t mimic other people’s work. What looks beautiful to you?
Take the braces off your brain. Don’t be constricted by what other people have done. Spin your own magic. Don’t be limited by the prospect of failure. Let your creative flow lead you to awesome places.
Assess often. Make time to have a cup of coffee in a cafe. Have a check up with yourself. Make adjustments. Don’t just survive and react; plan awesome adventures.
Remember to play. Why aren’t you doing watercolour, life drawing, singing? Think about the creativity you take for granted.
“Write ourself a creativity prescription. Go for a walk. Listen to a podcast. Go to the library. Read a chapter of your fave book. Go on on a road trip. Take a bus to somewhere different,” Pip
Are you doing something creative this week Lifestylers – are you making something, growing something, singing something? Let us know what you’re up to (and why you love it) in the comments.