Embrace the mess

You may have noticed that I got very enthusiastic about writing for the past couple of weeks. I had decided that I could put out three blog posts a week ongoingly. Why? Well, it seemed like a good idea of course. I do this a lot with all sorts of things. I can never manage to structure things so that the kitchen is clean and the washing is done but when I get inspired by something I go for it.

Blind enthusiastic commitment

Like most creative people I get inspired and grab hold of an idea that consumes me for a while. Often these commitments can be really great and I work through projects piece by piece until there’s a beautiful body of work. One particularly mad example of this was back in August 2013, when I created this pop-up diary for the Sketchbook Project. Others have been projects for Inktober and the 100 Day Project

Attempting structure and routine

Structure and routine for the boring stuff like shopping and cleaning isn’t something I’ve ever been great at maintaining. I like to think that my kids won’t ever remember that the house was clean and tidy, but I know they remember the spontaneous trips to the beach to watch the sunset or the mad camping weekends. I do apply some level of structure and routine to creative projects though. Although a lot of the creative process can be ad-hoc, a basic timeline is reassuring and helps me to know it’s likely to get finished. Apart from once, when one of my children had a medical emergency, I’ve never missed a deadline.

A whole lot of mess

Jen Storer is a wonderful children’s book author who runs creative writing workshops. She explains that we need to embrace the mess to foster good ideas. I love this so much, especially because there seems to be a lot of mess in my life. We’ve been renovating our house for 15 years and have three kids, three dogs and chickens. It’s a lot of mess. I hide in my office for respite and think that the ideas will just flow out of me when I have peace and quiet. It doesn’t really work that way. How often do we notice that ideas come to us at times when we’re out walking the dog or just before we go to sleep? Ideas and inspiration can strike anytime. I used to feel guilty about taking too many breaks in the day. But breaks are an important time to let your wondering thoughts mill around in your head. I make sure I get outside to throw the ball for the dogs regularly during the day and wander up to check on the chickens when they don’t need checking.

The big breaks

By far the best breaks are the longer ones though. Travel, weekend trips or a quick spontaneous night out. It’s so important to find time to get away and refuel your creative mind. That’s why I’m forcing my whole family to go up in a hot air balloon this weekend! Seriously, I may be pushing things a bit far with that though. The weather forecast is looking terrible at the moment so they’ll be relieved when we have to cancel it. Perhaps a warmer time of the year would be more sensible.

Over enthusiasm

Sometimes project ideas don’t work out and that’s ok too. I’m not going to be writing three blogs a week ongoingly. You’ll be hearing from me once a week, or sometimes just because I have a burning need to share something. Have a good week!

Published by Karen Erasmus

I am an illustrator and surface pattern designer. I have illustrated 18 picture books. I live in Melbourne, Australia with three kids, two dogs, four chickens and a mad husband. Life's busy. I also love to sew and cycle and visit galleries whenever I get the time.