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2 Approaches to Check Your Creativity

Check Your Creativity - The year long creative challenge! Click here to learn more and sign-up!

Last week I shared with you the details of Check Your Creativity, a year long creative challenge that I can’t wait to start! What would make it even better? If you joined me of course! For a refresher on the details or to sign-up, click here.

After last week’s email, one question I received was:

When thinking about taking on a year long creative project, I’m not sure that I can come up with 12 different creative ventures. Any thoughts?

Per usual, I have many thoughts on this.

Check Your Creativity was designed to be flexible to fit the needs of anyone who wants to join, but also to provide enough direction to keep you on track to having your most creative year yet. Taking this into account, you can complete Check Your Creativity anyway you want, but two approaches quickly come to mind:

  1. Choose one overarching creative venture for the year and make each month’s creative focus a different aspect of it. For example, if you chose photography, your year might look something like this:
  • September – Learning the basics of using your DSLR in manual mode
  • October – Composition
  • November – Lighting
  • December – Exposure
  • January – Depth of field
  • February – Perspective
  • March – Editing your photos
  • April – Focus on portrait photography
  • May – Focus on nature photography
  • June – Photo Challenge: take a photo at the same time everyday.
  • July – Photo Challenge: take a photo of all of the people you love
  • August – Photo Challenge: Go for a walk each day and photograph something outdoors

By going this route, you know what to expect each month. In addition, you will be continually building on your skill set so that by the end of the challenge you will be much more skilled than when you began. Finally, this also cuts down on any costs for the project. Assuming you already have your camera, you do not have to spend anything else for the rest of the challenge.

  1. If you decide that you were more interested in trying out 12 different creative ventures throughout the year, your year might look something like this:
  • September – sewing
  • October – knitting
  • November – photography
  • December – weaving
  • January – watercolors
  • February -crocheting
  • March – hand-lettering
  • April -acrylic painting
  • May – drawing
  • June – candle making
  • July – calligraphy
  • August – jewelry-making

By going this route, there is no chance of you getting bored! This is a great approach if you feel like you are someone who has several (or many) creative sparks, or even if you are still not sure what yours is and you want to experiment a little. This is also a great approach for people who have started many projects over the years (or even just bought the materials) but have not quite seen them to fruition (I’m definitely guilty of this). Check Your Creativity can be the kick in the butt you need to get going.

Remember, whichever route you choose, you can always change it later!!  So important to remember this. Even if it is in the middle of the month, if something is not working for you, can change it. You are in charge of everything.

In order to be ready for our September 1st kick-off, you need to sign-up here to download the calendar. Then, brainstorm ideas for your creative year. Remember, you really only need to decide what you will be focusing on in September.

Next week, I will show you how to quickly make a plan for the upcoming month’s creative focus so that you are ready to go when the 1st of each month rolls around.

Any questions about Check Your Creativity? Leave a comment or email me at greensandbluescoATgmail.com

 

Check Your Creativity – The Only Challenge You Need This Year

Check Your Creativity: Who's up for a challenge? Click here to sign up a year long creativity challenge broken down into month long mini-challenges - all designed by you! Click here to find out more and how to sign up.

Hey there. Today I am so excited to share with you something that I have been working on for awhile. I hope you will love it as much as I do!

Check Your Creativity

All right, so what is Check your Creativity? Check Your Creativity is a year-long creative challenge, starting September 1, 2016 and finishing up on August 31, 2017. Hold on. A year long?  I know that sounds like a long time for one challenge, even a little crazy. Normally I would agree, but Check Your Creativity is a year long challenge broken down into 12, month long challenges. The best part? You have 100% control over it. You get to decide what each of your challenges is. The only guideline (not even a rule, but a guideline) is that each month you must challenge yourself creatively in some way.

Easy peasy.

Why should i Participate?

By participating in Check Your Creativity, you will:

  • learn new skills by challenging yourself in different ways each month.
  • be inspired by your own creativity and the creativity of others.
  • allow yourself time to create.

Sounds perfect, right?

How Do I Participate?

In order to participate in Check Your Creativity, you need to sign up here. When you receive the confirmation email, download and print the calendar. As you can see below, the Check Your Creativity calendar looks very similar to a one line a day calendar. 

Check Your Creativity: Who's up for a challenge? Click here to sign up a year long creativity challenge broken down into month long mini-challenges - all designed by you! Click here to find out more and how to sign up.Each month you will fill in your creative focus for the month. Throughout that month, whenever you practice that particular creative venture, check the box for the day (Check Your Creativity, get it???) and you jot down a brief description of what you accomplished. By the end of the month, your calendar will look something like this: 

Check Your Creativity: Who's up for a challenge? Click here to sign up a year long creativity challenge broken down into month long mini-challenges - all designed by you! Click here to find out more and how to sign up.

As you can see from my example, I did not practice visual thinking every single day. This does not mean I failed – pretty much the complete opposite. By the end of the month (I actually did this in June), I was so much better at visual thinking than I was at the beginning of the month. Now without “making myself” practice visual thinking as a part of a challenge, it is something I just do on my own. I don’t do it every day, but often enough that I continue to get better at it. #winning

No matter what you are better off at the end of the month than when you started. Check Your Creativity is not about being perfect, it’s about making progress.

Each month you will pick a new creative focus. Your choice of creative focus can build off the previous month or be completely separate – it’s up to you!

I encourage you to try something new each month as opposed to picking the exact same creative focus for the entire year. This will not make you an expert at 12 different creative ventures, rather it will help you to expand your creative thinking and perhaps even find something new that you like.  You don’t have to pick 12 creative ventures ahead of time. Your first few projects might determine where the rest of your year is headed.  For example, if I choose photography in October and I get hooked, other months throughout the year might have a photographic focus (i.e. nature photos, get better at taking portraits, etc.).

I Need Ideas for My Creative Focus for Each Month!

It is only crucial for you to come up with your creative focus for September now. However, if you are like me, you might be getting excited and want to plan the whole year out now. That’s totally fine, just be opening to allowing yourself to change your mind if you feel like it. When you download the calendar for Check Your Creativity, one of the pages is the graphic below, a place to brainstorm what your creative focus is going to be for each month.

Check Your Creativity: Who's up for a challenge? Click here to sign up a year long creativity challenge broken down into month long mini-challenges - all designed by you! Click here to find out more and how to sign up.

Below you can see how I filled out mine. These are just the ideas I have now. Most likely, many of these will have changed by the end of the year. If you read through them, you will notice that some topics are very broad, such as visual thinking, and other times I wrote a very specific description of what I want to accomplish: knitting – finish the projects that I already currently have started. It’s probably better to have a specific goal, however you can choose those at the beginning of each month.

Check Your Creativity: Who's up for a challenge? Click here to sign up a year long creativity challenge broken down into month long mini-challenges - all designed by you! Click here to find out more and how to sign up.

Here are some more ideas you can use (but are definitely not limited to: 

  • photography
  • hand-lettering
  • sewing
  • painting
  • drawing
  • illustrating
  • visual thinking
  • knitting/crocheting
  • working out
  • take a photo of my kids
  • learn to code
  • go on a walk/hike 
  • each month could be a Pin that you saved on Pinterest and have never made yet
  • each month could be a different project you have started and not finished: baby books, a half-knitted sweater, etc.
  • your creative focus could be personal or have a family component: do a craft project together, read before bed every night, go for a walk together, etc.
  • your creative focus could be personal or be completed with a significant other, with your kids, with a friend that lives near or far.

Here are some of my past posts that may help you find a creative focus for each month: 

How Can I Be Successful With Check Your Creativity?

There are a few steps that you need in order to be successful with Check Your Creativity: 

  1. Join in – Don’t just observe the challenge, sign up and be a part of it. When you sign up, you will get your calendar to download. Print it right away. (You can sign up by clicking here.)
  2. Hang your calendar somewhere where you will see it every single day (or add it to your digital calendar). Actually check the box when you practice your creative venture.
  3. Make a plan for each month. It is not enough to say, “my creative focus for September is knitting.” This will not get you anywhere. You need to actually create a plan so that you follow through. Are you going to watch YouTube videos to teach yourself to knit? Are you going to set up a date with your neighbor for a time when she is going to teach you to knit. What materials will you need? If you need help creating a plan, click here to read about a post I wrote about it.

I’m so excited for Check Your Creativity to start September 1st. To join, click here now. I can’t wait to see what everyone creates throughout the next year!

To join in on Twitter and Instagram, use #checkyourcreativity.

Creative To-Do List Check-In

Spend time making a creative to-do list for the rest of the summer. Check-in with yourself and what you want to accomplish.

I recently posted an article called, Illustrating Your Ideas: 3 Tips for Getting Started With Visual Thinking. The idea for that particular article originated with my desire to not only learn more about visual thinking but also to challenge myself to put a goal of mine into action.

If you missed the illustrating your ideas blog post, you can click here to read more about it. Anyway, I am currently trying to work on my visual thinking and have been trying to come up with ways to challenge myself to work on this new skill. I thought it would be fun (and scary) to do an entire post using just (well mostly) visuals.

The reason I say it is scary is because I am still clearly bad at this (I’m not fishing for compliments here). Seriously though, the only way to get better at something is to practice. And find it easy to force myself to take it seriously and practice if I decide to do something like this.

All of the sudden, it is the middle of June. I have almost two months left of summer, but like always, I know it is going to fly by. I thought this would be a good time to have a check-in with myself in terms of what I hope to accomplish this summer. Because I am on my visual thinking kick – I am going to illustrate my goals.

creative to do list - make one now and share it with someone! creative to do list - make one now and share it with someone! creative to do list - make one now and share it with someone!

Honestly, you could probably care less what is on my current to-do list, creative or other. In fact, I’m sure you don’t care, but I share this with you to challenge you to challenge yourself.  

Think about your creative goals/to-do list. What is on it? Write them down.  

  • Now sing them.
  • Draw them.
  • Photograph them.
  • Say them in another language.
  • Do something that makes you uncomfortable but have been wanting to do.

Use this challenge as an opportunity to push yourself out of your comfort zone – even if it is for just a few minutes. You have to start somewhere!


If you are joining me for BYOC: Bring Your Own Creativity. Start sharing your projects starting June 25th using #byocreativity. No idea what I am talking about??  Click here to learn more and participate. Can’t wait to see what you make!

BYOC: Bring Your Own Creativity

Looking for a fun, easy way to practice your creativity this summer? Join BYOC: Bring Your Own Creativity. Click to find out more.

Summertime is the time for parties. What better way to party than to have a BYO…However this party is a Bring Your Own Creativity.

Here’s how to join the party:

On the first of each month (June, July, and August), I’ll share a prompt with you. Interpret the prompt and complete it in whatever way your creativity speaks to you and makes sense.  These prompts are completely open-ended and can be interpreted by writing, drawing, sewing, knitting, hand-lettering, painting, taking photos, songwriting, building something, etc. The possibilities are endless!

On the 25th of each month I, and the other ladies joining me for BYOC, will share how we completed the prompts…and we truly hope you will do the same! The prompts we are using were specifically chosen to allow room for true creative expression. Share how you responded to the prompt using #byocreativity.

Looking for a fun, easy way to practice your creativity this summer? Join BYOC: Bring Your Own Creativity. Click to find out more.

 

I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about creativity, but like everyone else, it is important for me to set aside time to practice my creativity. What better way than with a community of creative ladies whose work I admire.

Joining the BYOC Party are (and where you can follow along with them):

Jenn from The Spare Room Project: website; twitter; facebook.

Emily from Eltscott.com: website; twitter, instagram.

Julie from In Tandem: website; instagram, facebook.

Allie from Allie Explores: websitetwitter, instagram.

Gabrielle from A Life of Gab: website; twitter; facebook.

Each of these inspiring ladies practices creativity in different and awesome ways. Take some time to check them out and follow them to see updates about BYOC.

Now to the good stuff – time to get creating!

Your prompt for June is…Create something that represents summer (if you are not currently in the middle of summer, be inspired by whatever season you are currently experiencing).

If you have an idea of what you might create, then awesome, go create! If you need some help getting started, keep reading.

  1. Make a list – a braindump of whatever comes to your mind when you hear the word summer. Set a timer for a minute or two and write down anything and everything that comes to mind.
  2. Be inspired by your own list – Examine the words you wrote down. You can interpret them literally or figuratively. For example, let’s pretend my list looked like this:
  • Parties
  • Sun
  • Grill
  • Adventure
  • Friends
  • Time
  • Fun
  • Family

Using this list as my inspiration, I could create a new recipe for something on the grill. I could knit something for a friend. I could hand-letter a quote about summer for my house. I could plan a trip and go on it.  I could photograph my family. Really, the possibilities are endless.

Then, you just need to decide what you want to do and go create it!  And don’t forget to share using #byocreativity. I can’t wait to see what you create.

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter so you don’t miss anyone BYOC updates.

 

Big Love for Big Magic

Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear is full of creative inspiration. Click to read my favorite parts and actionable steps to go along with them.


 

In last week’s post about embracing the uncomfortable, I mentioned the book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. This is actually the 2nd time I have read it. I read it right when it came out in the fall, or more accurately I listened the the audiobook. However, I wanted to read it again because I found it inspiring and realized that when I listened to it as an audiobook, I missed many opportunities to stop and write down ideas and inspiration from it because I was driving while listening to it.

Anyway, you should read Big Magic. Gilbert is an entertaining writer and it is packed with helpful information.

Technically this is a self-help book. That gives me pause. I’m stubborn enough to believe I don’t need anyone’s help. I also tend to think that self help books are ridiculous and state the obvious. Maybe this book is better than most, or maybe creative living is not as obvious to me as it is to others. There is nothing in this book that I stopped and thought “this is a revelation!” But, it is the way in which Gilbert writes that is a revelation. I found that there were many thoughts on creativity that Gilbert described that I have had similar thoughts on, but her ability to express those ideas is far superior to my own. So, just read the book.

If, for some reason, you still aren’t planning on reading this book, here are a  few of my favorite takeaways and some actionable steps to take today:

#1

Gilbert discusses how ideas exist in the world, swirling around us until we agree to claim them.(see my sketchnote from last week for more details). Ideas are there for the taking, we just have to be brave enough and persistent enough to see them though.

What idea of yours would make you feel awful if you woke up one day and saw that someone else had gotten to it first?

#2

Gilbert (like many others ) tries to end the myth that creativity is reserved for artists and the like. She states that if you are alive, you are a creative person.  You do not need permission from anyone to live a creative life. Don’t try to compare your creativity to anyone else’s.  Define yourself as a creative person. Then, say it aloud: I’m a singer, I’m a painter, I’m a baker, etc.

Fill in the blank. I am a ________________________________________________________.

#3

Gilbert discusses the paradox of how art/creative work is both meaningless and deeply meaningful. Her take on it is that is has to be this way for you to be in a place that you can create. My take is that creative work can be meaningless to everyone else in the world and that is okay as long as it is meaningful to you. If it doesn’t mean something to you, what’s the point? And if it doesn’t mean anything to anyone else, who cares? It’s not for them anyway. It’s for you.

What would you create/make/start/do if you had tons of extra time and weren’t afraid of what anyone would say or think? Oh, you don’t have all the time in the world and you do care what people think? Do it anyway. Start on it today.

Want to read more on creativity and and creative inspiration? Enroll in my free Challenge Your Creativity Course now. Already joined the course? Share it with a friend!

Enroll in Challenge Your Creativity - a free course from Greens & Blues Co. full of inspiration and creative challenges.

 

Stop Everything & Embrace the Fear

Drop Everything and Embrace the Fear: Do Something That Makes You Uncomfortable. Click to read why challenging to yourself to overcome your fear is a good thing!

Lately, I have seen a lot of articles written on facing your fears. I have found many of them to be extremely helpful and on track (I may not have launched Greens & Blues Co. if I had not read some of them), however, today I am going to take a slightly different viewpoint on it. Beyond just facing your fears by putting yourself out there and going for it; I challenge you to make yourself uncomfortable. Like, really really uncomfortable. Like when you are stuck between two people having the most awkward conversation ever and you have no way out – that kind of uncomfortable.

Why make yourself uncomfortable? You will face a fear. You will force yourself to try something you had previously told yourself you could not or would not do. You most likely will learn something new about yourself, whether it is the fact that you can face your fear and still survive, or even just a new skill that you learn.

One of the best ways to get out of a rut is to try something new. By trying something new, you usually have to make yourself uncomfortable. It’s not fun to suck at something. Especially as an adult. We are used to being good at whatever it is that we do regularly, so it is definitely out of our comfort zone.

What makes you uncomfortable? This is different for everyone:

  • Picking up the phone and calling someone.
  • Signing up for a class so you can learn something new.
  • Trying to make a new friend.
  • Sharing your work with others

I have always been the worst at drawing. I probably draw at the ability level of a 2nd grader. But, this is not surprising, because that is most likely when I stopped practicing drawing. However, I have always had an interest in drawing, sketching, hand-lettering, etc. But, I am not good at any of them, and until recently had really not done anything about it.

Recently I started to learn and practice sketchnoting (a more visual way of taking notes that is a hybrid of writing, sketching, hand-lettering, etc. You can learn more about it here.), which admittedly, is not actually drawing, but close enough that it still makes me start to sweat when I even think about sharing it with anyone. I’m still a beginner and definitely not good at it, but here is my sketchnote from a section of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert on how ideas work (on a sidenote, it’s an awesome book and you should definitely read it).

Stop Everything and Embrace the Fear: My sketchnotes from Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

 

 

Make yourself uncomfortable today. Try something new, do something you have putting off, or even learn something new. Go embrace the uncomfortable!

Challenge Your Creativity – A Free Course

Challenge Your Creativity - a free, self-paced course from Greens & Blues Co. Click here to sign up for a course designed to challenge you through creativity + learning.

The Challenge Your Creativity Course  – a free course for anyone who wants to do just that: challenge your creativity through inspiration and learning. You will start thinking about creativity and as a result, start creating!

This course is made up of 10 sections. Each section includes a required reading and a challenge to put what you learned into action. Some readings will actually be on the subject of creativity while others will just provide that much needed creative spark; it is up to you to decide how to respond.

All of the required readings will either be links online or books that can be found at your local library. Of course, you can buy the book as well if you totally love it.

Each challenge will include actionable steps needed to complete it.

There is no timeline for completing this course, it’s yours forever. However, I hope that you will consider sharing your thoughts, insights, and creations in the comments section.

Challenge Your Creativity - a free, self-paced course from Greens & Blues Co. Click here to sign up for a course designed to challenge you through creativity + learning.

ROADMAP: DESIGN YOUR CREATIVE PATH

ROADMAP: design your creative path. Click to download your worksheets containing exercises to guide in designing a way to live your most creative life.

This week I have a similar, or rather complementary activity to last week’s. Last week, I shared worksheets to guide you in finding your creative spark. If you have not yet done so, I hope you will set aside some time to work on these (click here to read about Finding Your Creative Spark). When you are finished, you will find that what I have for you this week is an excellent follow-up.

By finding your creative spark, you answered “the what.” What inspires you, what drives you, what you are passionate about, etc. This week’s worksheets, ROADMAP: design your creative path will show you “the how.” Now that you know what your creative spark is, the ROADMAP will show you how to make it a part of your life. In order to live your ideal life, your most creative life, you need to make a plan for it.

ROADMAP: design your creative path is a step-by-step guide that will walk you through a series of activities and exercises challenging you to create room for your creative spark in your life. It will show you how to create a path of creativity that will allow you to live the life you want.

ROADMAP: design your creative path. Click here to download your worksheets now!

Get started now. Download your worksheets. Have a friend you think might benefit from these? Please pass it along!

Creative Challenge – What’s Your Idea?

Challenge You Creativity - What's Your Idea? Using What To Do With An Idea? as your guide, determine what your idea is. The one idea you can seem to get rid of . Click to learn more.

If you have not had the chance to read What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada, I suggest adding it to your to-do list (in case you missed it, last week we talked about making a creative to-do list). I can’t say enough good things about it. In addition to being beautifully illustrated, the author captured the exact emotions of having an idea – what to do with it, trying to live without it, the fear, and more. I found myself shaking my head yes to each and every page.

I am a huge proponent of adults reading and finding meaning in books that were clearly written for children. What Do You Do With an Idea? should be required reading for all adults. Below are of a few of my favorite quotes from the book accompanied by my own thoughts.

“I didn’t know what to do with it. So I just walked away from it.”

At first, some ideas are too big – or at least they feel that way. We often think something is a great idea, but aren’t sure if we are the ones meant to see it through, or if even know how to take it and run with it. Instead of trying to get rid of the idea or storing it away for another day, what if you just went for it? Just started.

“I tried to act like everything was the same as it was before it showed up.”

When we do this, we soon realize the difference between ideas that are meant for us and ideas that are not so great. We can’t get rid of the good ones. Even if we are thinking it will take a lot of work, or we might fail – we can’t get rid of it. You are driving in your car, and need to stop and send yourself an email with a new idea. You are on Pinterest and you see the perfect inspiration for your idea. No matter what you do, your idea always seems to be hanging around. What if you just went for it? Just started.

“I showed it to other people even though I was afraid of what they would say.”

This more than any other line in the book hit home for me. I’m usually a pretty confident person, but when it comes to my ideas for Greens & Blues Co. I have a ridiculous fear of sharing it with people I know. The point of it all is of course to share it with the world, but I have had a really hard time sharing it with people whose opinions I value. I know it is the fear of looking stupid, but I have been unable to get over it. But, what if I just went for it? Just started.

“It encouraged me to think big…and then, to think bigger.”

My idea for Greens & Blues Co. has been circling around in my head for the better part of two years. In that time it has changed dramatically. I have changed the types of classes I want to offer, who my targeted audience is, how I will teach the classes and more. I have been able to alter my course of action by constantly learning and consistently reflecting on my idea and what I want.

Your Challenge:

Read What Do You Do With an Idea? Read it again and again. Then I challenge you to do something with your idea. More specifically – tell one person your idea. Someone you know in person. Once you get over that hurdle, tell a few more. The more you say your idea out loud the more your confidence will grow, and the better your idea will become.

Start right now. In the comments,  share your idea. What’s the idea you can’t seem to get rid of despite the fact that you have not acted on it? What idea follows you around because you know you want to do something about it? The idea that scares you a little bit? I can’t wait to hear from you!

p.s. This is an excerpt from my free course – Challenge Your Creativity. If you enjoyed this, click here to enroll in the course now.

 

10 Minute Challenge: Make Your Creative To-Do List

10 Minute Challenge: Make Your Creative To-Do List - Make a list of what makes you happy and get started on it today. Click to start now!

Why have a creative to-do list?

Many of us make to-do lists for the parts of our lives that we want to stay organized: tasks at work, chores around the house, shopping lists, etc.  But what about a to-do list for the things you actually want to do? Hence, a creative to-do list.

Do you have ten minutes (or less)? Good, let’s get started.

Give yourself 2 – 3 minutes to sit down and list as many ideas as possible. Don’t get stuck on the idea of what is considered creative vs. what is not. Anything is creative if you want it to be – even if it is cleaning your house. A few ideas to consider while brainstorming:

  • How do I want to spend my time?
  • What would I do if I had all the time in the world to complete it?
  • What is something new I want to learn?
  • What makes me happy?

Take a look below to see my list.

My Creative To-Do List | Katy @ Greens & Blues Co.

When you are finished brainstorming, go through your list and and decide what to try first.  If, like me, you have a long list, it may be helpful to make notes in order to decide what to try first (See mine below). For example, I want to learn how to garden. However, in the beginning of February, this would be pretty much the worst time of year to start to garden (if, like me, you live in the Midwest). So I made a note on there to start reading up on gardening starting in April.

When I was done making notes, I went through and numbered the tasks to give myself a better idea of what order I am going to complete them in. Truthfully, I doubt I will complete them in this order. I will probably complete the first 2 – 3 in the order I laid out, but by the time I get to the rest, I will have changed my mind or I might be interested in something else. AND THAT’S OKAY. You are always free to change your mind.

My Creative To-Do List | Katy @ Greens & Blues Co.

So based off my list, I am going to focus on painting with my kids and learning how to hand-letter. I already found a class I want to sign up for – check it out if you are interested.

What did you decide? Hopefully you came up with a list of ideas that make you happy and that you look forward to working on! Leave me a comment and tell me what is at the top of your creative to-do list.