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Riva Weinstein : The Creative Squeeze

Part-Time Creativity

The Creative Squeeze

Getting More (Part-Time) Art Into (Full-Time) Life

By Riva Weinstein

Do you struggle with a full time job and part time creative life? Welcome to the club!

Many of us are working jobs that aren't our creative dreams. And it often feels they are squeezing the life right out of us. But isn't a squeeze just a hug that's a little too tight? So how can we create full, rich creative lives that nurture and support our souls? Expanding our lives beyond the too tight grip of every day realities. Without judging ourselves for not being full time artists?

In truth, I hate to think of the "Creative Life" as a goal at all. It's not a "to do" list or an assignment. It is a path. In the words of Frederick Frank, a spiritual practice, a way. We have a tendency in western culture to get way too focused on attainment rather than practice. So I'd like to suggest something counter intuitive to our times. Rather than spending our creative energy on wanting to be somewhere other than where each of us is on our very individual creative roads, let's just take a pause and start where we actually are.

We can create extraordinary life experiences by infusing the ordinary, every day with as much creativity as possible. Challenges in life and work can be sparks that ignite and fuel our creativity. Everyday experiences can motivate and inspire us.

What is happening in your life right now? Is there something that deserves a memento? Do you need a little bit of good luck? Can you honor a transition you may be going through? Or is there something you do every day that can inspire you?

In my own personal art practice, which has bounced from part time to full time quite a few times, I have used everything from age cultural old traditions to personal beauty routines to inspire my art projects.

When a friend brought me bread, salt, sugar and some coins for good luck in a new home, I started a line of good luck talismans and blessings. I once photo documented the wearing away of nail polish on my toes.

I've used everything from dryer lint to found animal bone and street metal to create gifts, jewelry and more. A few summers ago, I was starting a new job with little time for art, so I took my digital camera with me on my bus commute to document the journey.

When things get particularly hectic I break projects down into a mini-assembly line so I can make tiny progress. I've even learned a lesson from knitting — which goes just about everywhere — and found ways to take my art projects on the road, by making myself mini-kits of needed materials. Plastic snack bags to the rescue! What would be in your repertoire of easy access, creative every day go to's? Can you write down 3 things quick, without thinking too hard or long about it?

Even the tiniest little creative act — for instance, twisting the wire from a champagne cork into an odd little chair — not only feeds the creative soul, but stretches and strengthens it.

Here, in your creative life, you get to do whatever you want. For no reason. To no purpose or end benefit. For no one else but yourself.

There are endless ways to turn the creative squeeze into nurturing hugs of creative energy and inspiration. It's a game of hide and seek, really. Right here, right now, in the details and dramas, and even the boredom of our daily lives, creative prompts are everywhere waiting to be discovered and explored. Where will you find them today? •

© Riva Weinstein 2010. All rights reserved.

Riva WeinsteinRiva Weinstein is a Kaizen Muse Certified Creativity Coach, an artist and author of Magic Medicine: Rx for Creativity. She inspires others on extraordinary creative journeys with every day experiences and materials. More »