Note: For the fullest experience, I recommend listening to the podcast, as the audio version always contains additional comments and tangents not found in the blog post version.
On Sunday I led my second ever Creative Sandbox Playday.
Three people were in attendance.
Two of whom were me and my husband.
The first Creative Sandbox Playday had eight people, so only three was something of a let-down, though there were supposed to be four — one attendee got sick and wasn’t able to be there.
And a few others would have been there, but had scheduling conflicts.
This kind of thing is a ripe opportunity for gremlins to rush in and tell me what a loser I am.
My friend Jenni Heffernan Brown hosts similar events in San Francisco, her Creative Sunday Lab, and has no trouble getting double-digit attendance at hers, so clearly I’m a loser, say my Comparison Trap gremlins.
They tell me I’m never going to succeed at drawing people. That I’m a failure at marketing. That I should give up.
And on and on, ad nauseum.
Meanwhile, even though he had a great time at the first Creative Sandbox Playday back in August, and he told me he was way more productive there than at his usual weekend coffee shop, my husband was rather cranky to be loading up the car with a rolling cart of art supplies and snacks at 9:00 am and driving with me to my synagogue to move folding tables around.
Even I was a bit resistant. After all, I’m leaving soon on a two-week trip, and I have so much to do to get ready. There are plenty of things I could be doing with this time.
But you know what? It all worked out.
My husband said he got three times as much done on his screenplay than he usually does on a regular weekend day at a coffee shop.
And I was so happy to have the day to paint in my Paris travel journal — something I never take time to do at home.
And our single participant, Lynn, was so grateful that I hadn’t canceled. She’s been wanting to get back to doing creative things, and the Playday was the perfect kickstart — an opportunity for her to pull together art supplies from wherever they were buried in her house, and to carve out time to play. Time she simply would not spend at home, alone.
I created that: the space for that to happen.
So even though on Sunday I only impacted three people’s lives (two of whom were me and my husband), I impacted three people’s lives.
I got to make my art. Score!
And I helped two other people make their art. Double score!
In case you didn’t know, I am in the habit these days of doodling live on video — I call them Doodlecams — over on Instagram. I do this most days, and share the video to my Instagram Story, and to my IGTV Channel.
It’s a short video — it has to be under ten minutes to be accepted by IGTV — and it’s always 100% improvised. I share my thought process while I doodle.
My latest Doodlecam over on Instagram was not, shall we say, one of my favorites.
Okay, I’ll be blunt: I hated it.
It’s weak. It’s ugly. My gremlins were going nuts the entire time telling me I have no business calling myself an artist if this is what I create.
But here’s the thing: some days are like that.
And my inner 4-year-old was having a grand old time making it, because she doesn’t care about whether it’s “good” or “crap” or anything else! She’s 4! And she’s playing in the creative sandbox!
And in the creative sandbox it’s not about “good” or “bad” or impressing people, it’s about exploring, and being in the process, and asking “what would happen if..?”
And because I’m following my Creative Sandbox Way™ Guideposts, I’m continually reminding myself that there is no wrong (Guidepost #1), and I’m thinking process, not product (Guidepost #2), and I’m thinking quantity, not quality (Guidepost #3), and I’m thinking tiny and daily (Guidepost #4), so even though I hate the outcome of this particular piece, it does not matter!
Besides, my real purpose in making these doodles is multi-layered.
Yes, dear listener, I have an ulterior motive, in addition to feeding my creative spirit and reminding myself that engaging in a little bit of creative sandbox playtime every day is good for my mental health.
When I show YOU that it’s possible to pick up a pen and make something in under ten minutes…
When I show YOU that yes, I have gremlins, too, but I’m not letting them stop me…
When I show YOU that sometimes I hate what I create, but I keep right on going and lightning doesn’t strike…
All of this serves my larger goal of instigating your creativity.
So even if I’m super unhappy with what I made, I still get some value out of the fact that I made it!
First, because I didn’t let the gremlins stop me. Score!
And second, because I get to share with you that I didn’t let the gremlins stop me, which will hopefully help you keep from letting your gremlins stop you. Double score!
Upshot: What’s Your Purpose?
As I look at these two stories, I see that they share something in common. In each case I had to get clear on what I really wanted out of the situation.
If I let my gremlins drive the bus, they would have shut me right down. And who would have benefited? No-one.
The Playday would not have happened. No art would have gotten made. Nobody would have felt charged up and inspired.
Instead, I got clear that I needed to let go of my ego, let go of how my numbers compare, let go of whether my art impresses anyone or not, and go for the real goals, the important goals.
The goals that go beyond ego.
Not always easy, but so rewarding when we can do it.
That brings me to this week’s Something Cool, which is an independent feature film that I have not seen, but that I think everyone should see (here’s a critic’s review on cinetalk.net), called Happy Face. It features real people with facial difference, and the film’s director calls it the antidote to the barrage of unattainable body images Hollywood and mainstream media feeds us.
I found out about Happy Face because I know one of the actors in the film, inspirational humorist David Roche. We met at Life Is A Verb Camp a few years back, and I fell in love with his openness, vulnerability, and generosity. When he told me about this film, I was thrilled.
As someone who suffered terribly for years with an eating disorder and body dysmorphia, I know first hand that we have a lot of work to do to combat the onslaught of messages about the necessity of physical perfection. One film is not going to fix that, but it can help raise awareness, and that could mean a world of difference for the individuals who see the film.
Right now Happy Face is running an Indigogo campaign to raise funds to spread the word and get the film in front of more people. I donated, and hope you will to.
Click to Go to the Happy Face Indiegogo Page
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Want a creative kick start?
Check out my book!
What would change for you if you could totally revel in the joy of creating? You CAN, with The Creative Sandbox Way!
- Melissa’s 10 fool-proof guideposts that have helped thousands get joyfully creating.
- 5 reasons why creative play is good for you, AND for the world (it’s neuroscience, baby!)
- Why “I’m not creative” is always a lie, and how to bust it.
- How to turn creative blocks into friends.
AND you’ll get creating right in the book itself.
“It’s one part field guide, one part creative practice—and I loved it. The Creative Sandbox Way is an adventure packaged as a book.”
NYT best-selling author of The Happiness of Pursuit and The $100 Startup
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