Creative people like us often have a bunch of projects underway at any given time. Despite what you might hear or read, this is a good thing.
Our brains work differently from those who move in a linear fashion from one project to another. Creativity is less like a line and more like a wild, spiraling map-style flow chart with lots of scenic overlooks.
As if to prove the point, that last sentence makes me want to draw just such a thing in my art journal. Heh heh.
In my experience, I find that having some of my creative projects be personal ones, just for my own use, helps keep my main creative work – writing books – fresh. There’s no pressure to finish a personal project or to craft a particular outcome. There are no deadlines.
When I focus on a personal project, I’m doing what might look like work, but it’s just for fun.
Here are a few examples of what I mean by personal projects. I have two of them that I’ve been working on recently.
One is my Dream Chronicles. I started keeping dream journals in the early 1990s. I don’t write in my dream journal every day, or capture each dream. Instead, I write down the ones that seem particularly significant.
After reading some of the Robert Moss books on dreaming – highly recommended if you’re interested in working with your dreams – I started giving each dream a title. I came up with the idea of typing them up, adding keywords as I go, to see which symbols and topics show up most often.
The plan is to print the dreams and create a binder of them. I even created a collage-style cover (see photo).
This project has no timeline. I’m probably not going to share it with anyone. It’s just for me, for the fun of it.
My other personal project was inspired by a super cool birthday gift I received last fall. My son-in-law gifted me with a create-it-yourself oracle card deck. It was such fun to pick out the theme and the artwork together!
My theme is magickal creatures. He had it printed up for me, with a cool case and everything. My project is that I’m making a guidebook for the deck.
I’m doing research on the creatures I chose, and plan to also write a haiku for each card. Again, this is just for my own use, and just for the sheer joy of it.
I’m currently reading D.J. Conway’s book Magickal Mystical Creatures as part of my research for the oracle deck.
My favorite personal projects obviously involve study and writing, which I love. Others will have completely different ideas of fun personal projects.
A dear friend of mine who is a visual artist and a writer is making a warrior’s kit. He’s repurposed an old guitar case, hand-sewing pockets and sheaths into it for his collection of knives, shuriken, and other weaponry.
Mind you, I’ve known him for 30 years and haven’t seen him get into a fight yet. But this is something that lights him up, while researching magickal beasts might be tedious for him.
A personal project is one that you do just for you, with no desire to share, sell, or distribute the potential results.
What kind of personal projects do you have going? Do you have any you haven’t played with in quite some time? This might be the perfect moment to dig one out.
If you don’t have a personal project in mind, do some brainstorming. Make a blue-sky list of creations that sound truly delightful and completely whimsical. Do you want to stop what you’re doing right now and dive in? You’re on the right track.
I’d love to hear about your personal creative projects, if you’re in the mood for sharing!