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.
I love this! Seeing how others work is so fascinating, and it helps me think of ways to be creative in my own way. Take the braces off your brain, that is so cool! We do look at what others do, and instead of marinating that with our own ideas we get stuck! I’m taking off my braces, right now!
What a lovely workshop, I would be in heaven. Alone in a crowd or meeting others I only know from online. Heaven!
Hi Nikki, I love how you’ve added ‘marinating with our own ideas’ to ‘take the braces of our brain’ – I’m going to get some ideas marinating on my walk just now 🙂 Yes, it was a fabulous workshop.
This was a super interesting read Jo. What a pair of wonderful ladies to spend some time with. I think with our busy lives we don’t get as much time as we would like to be creative. I know I certainly don’t. I love my downtime (when I’m out for a walk too funnily enough) to just contemplate things and think about solutions. I bet you got a lot from this.
Sally @ Life Loving
Hi Sally, thank you! Yes, walking is my absolute best time for thinking things through and coming up with ideas too 🙂
Hi, Jo! Interesting post about creativity! I sometimes feel stuck on ideas and what it works most for me is to be on my own (difficult sometimes with two little girls at home), and go to bed later. I don’t know why my brain seems to work better when there’s no natural light.
I would love to invite you to share this with us at our new Sweet Inspiration party which goes live every Friday, http://sweethings.net/sweet-inspiration-link-party1/.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend!
Hello Pili, I totally get the being alone part – I also need solitude to be creative. No natural light would mean less distraction too. Thank you, will check out Sweet Inspiration next Friday 🙂
Hi, Jo! Your headline caught my eye because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “creativity” and what that actually is. It is so many different things to everyone. I completely agree with you that as we get older, we sometimes get even more of an itch to be creative; at least, that is how it is playing out of rme. I’ve always thought of “creativity” as having an artistic talent — painting, drawing, music, etc — of which I have none! I’m learning there are so many aspects of creativity that have nothing to do with traditional “studio art” and it’s really inspiring. Glad I found this post and your blog! Have a great day!
Thanks Wendy and nice to ‘meet’ you too! Yes, creativity comes in so many different guises. I don’t believe anyone when they declare they are ‘not creative at all’ – we all have some creative streak in us 🙂
I love this post! Perhaps as we get older we are also in better position to make more time for craft and making things, and to feel less influenced by what we or others think we ‘should’ be doing instead. What I particularly love about each of these speakers is their clearly articulated intention to live and work authentically – something close to my own heart. As for me I have several handmade projects on the go – cross-stitch, scrapbooking, cardmaking, and knitting; with drawn-threadwork on the list for this year as well. So glad you enjoyed the festival!
Thanks Jo (namesake!) Yes, it’s true that we are less likely as we get older to do as we ‘should’ because of outside influence. Weren’t the speakers awesome! Hope you enjoyed every minute of the festival too 🙂 Next year, we must look out for each other or meet up maybe?
Whoops so sorry if I was misleading Jo! I’m on the other side of the country and didn’t attend the festival. I loved the main messages of the speakers as shared in your post. But yes, I do hope we will meet one day.
Haha, no worries Jo! Funny how we assume things so often which just aren’t correct assumptions at all. Thanks for your kind words – yes, they were very authentic speakers.
Hi Jo, I feel creative, writing everyday. If I’m not writing I’m editing, short stories mostly, writers prompts and chipping away at a novel. I loved the writers festival, very inspiring xx
Wow, I’m so glad to hear that Rae 🙂 I so love reading your blog, and can’t wait to read more short stories and … the novel 🙂 Yes, the Writers Fest was brilliant wasn’t it?
Life Images by Jill
This is a fabulous post Jo. I sadly missed the Writer’s Festival this year. Thank you for this post. I agree that making time to be creative or time for oneself is food for the soul, and so very important. It is making the time that is the problem. I am a procrastinator, and get sidetracked very easily. There are so many things I want to be doing and had all sorts of intentions after the Summer School this year. Have I followed any of them up? Not yet! Perhaps your post is the little push I need.
Hi Jill, I think the more creative we are, the more we find we want to do, and finding the time is always the big problem. Love your work 🙂
I think about the only creative thing I’ve done lately is make a photobook of our trip to Tassie. I love making these books and collaging the photos so they look attractive. Otherwise I barely get enough time to other creative stuff. I would love to get more into photography and photoshopping which I think would help my blog along, however I simply don’t have time. I love what these two women have to say about finding time to be creative. Maybe I should start getting up earlier the day!
Yes, I get that Kathy … and I’m the same – there’s always something I want to learn in order for me to implement the next creative foray on the blogs and I wind up with no time to create because I find other more so called important things to do or I procrastinate! Could you get up earlier? Hmmm, not sure about me 😉 Dave and I also love making photobooks – he’s the expert, I’m the co-ordinator!
This is absolute magic. It’s the fifth anniversary of Art Partners this year, and so much in this post resonates. This for example: “Start from the heart. It takes a long time, but suddenly you look around and think WOW…” Our big thing coming up is Bunbury’s Tree Street Art Safari. Art Partners has been named the beneficiary of contributions made on the day. We’re super excited, and have created collection jars for each venue. I think Pip and Beci would be proud of our efforts! Thanks Jo!
Hi Wanda, Art Partners have been an absolute inspiration and it’s been wonderful to be able to watch your journey with them over the last few years. “Wow – you are just Doing it!” Yes, Pip and Beci would, I’m very sure be super proud of your efforts 🙂