A Perfect Storm of Creative Motivation


The holiday season is a perfect storm of creative motivation because it has 2 critical drivers built right in:

  1. A deadline (the holiday itself).
    Most people are helped by deadlines because deadlines are structure and frankly, most of us function better with structure.
  2. A  concrete reason why (giving a gift).
    When you live a busy life and want to insert creativity into your already overloaded schedule, a concrete reason that matters to you–like giving a gift–can be a critical piece in keeping you motivated.

But another reason these 2 motivators are so helpful is that they let you create while simultaneously shielding you from more debilitating issues often simmering below the surface–the complicated emotional stuff that makes it had to get started in the humdrum routine of your daily life.

Let me explain.

Self Esteem

Even though it’s not mentioned much, it actually takes a lot of self-esteem to create. Seriously, a lot.

The more personal your vision for a particular project, the more self-esteem it takes.

When your motivation for creating something is simply personal, it often doesn’t take long to lose your drive to continue as soon as anything goes not-quite-as-originally-envisioned–especially when the big meanie in your head smells blood and takes that as her cue to start rolling her eyes and getting sarcastic.

It’s easy to feel silly and think, “Why bother?”

And yet, as we all know too well, you don’t “voila!” become a whole human being with great self-esteem just out of a deep desire to let go of your garbage belief systems–they are. after all, fully developed systems that self-perpetuate.

So what’s a girl to do?

The Healing is in the Doing

The only way to build up your self-esteem to really create what you’re born to create is to just start making stuff without all that required self-esteem–but with whatever self-esteem you can muster at the moment.

I know it probably sounds like a contradiction, but it isn’t.

The more you create, the more courage you have to continue to create and–here’s the kicker–the more room you make for that creating to become bigger/more/deeper/richer/braver/ than what you’re currently doing now.

SO worth the effort.

You may have heavy feelings about your creativity or talent or skill level, but it’s important to find ways to dig back in anyway because you’re NOT going to cure your heavy feelings first and then make stuff. It just doesn’t work that way.

Instead, your heavy feelings will go away greatly diminish as you face them in the act of creating.

Every step you take on your creative path is progress and you must continue that journey any chance you have with whatever energy or focus you can muster because it is your job to be your best self.

And to do that, you must use whatever crutch will help you–and two of my favorite crutches are DEADLINES AND REASONS!

YES! Thank you Holidays!

DI(F)Y: Do It (for) Yourself

Now I’m going to take this thought one step further and suggest you introduce a little selfishness into the equation!

Selfish Angle #1: Make it Easy

You could use the holidays to have some creative success–make something that’s guaranteed to work to give you some confidence and have fun–a little bit of creating with no heaviness attached might be just the perfect thing to feed your creative heart.

For instance, you could buy an ornament kit from me, make some simple gifts that are fun, pretty and super EASY and just remember how good it feels to use your hands and “make.”

Or, if ornaments aren’t your thing, do something else–maybe make simple earrings from beautiful beads–or whatever project strikes your fancy AND feels easy, do-able and fun.

The point is, why struggle?

Selfish Angle #2: Learn A New Technique

This one can be a bit more challenging, but one of my favorite holiday gift making angles is to make my gifts based on whatever skill or technique I’m obsessed with learning at that moment.

For instance, one year I decided I really wanted to learn how to create decoupage plates and I made these. I needed a good motivator to learn that skill and giving those gifts was a great one. They were a lot of work but I was thrilled with the result and so were my recipients.

The year I bought myself a serger, the women in my family each got a serged top because I wanted to learn how to use my machine. (Perhaps not my most successful gift giving season that year, but hey, I learned a lot and I tried hard! )

This year, I’m going to tackle metal clay jewelry. I’ve been wanting to learn metal clay for a few years now but just haven’t gotten to it–so the holiday provides me with my reason and a deadline to make it happen.

Success Sneaks Up on You

Both these simple strategies that insert your creative priorities into your gift giving can help you make the holidays work for you and continue to provide you with straightforward reasons to make things all year long (think birthdays!)

This structure of regular creating will slowly free you up over time AND help you build a creative momentum (the real ticket). Soon, you’ll notice your  creative activity getting bigger and braver and increasingly satisfying.

And that, let me tell ya, feels great.

How About You?

What do you think about all this? Will you make any holiday gifts this year? Will you use the holiday to learn something new or do something that relaxes and fulfills you–or…………………………BOTH? Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!


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  1. This year I’ve done both.
    I knit because even with a pattern, after a certain amount of work, it becomes relaxing and a bit mindless. Plus, the gifts are always well received.
    I have not collaged and painted seriously in over a year, and while this past week has been struggling with my ego to JUST START, today I forced myself to the wet studio with a semi new technique, and dove in.
    It was, to be honest, painful at first! (I could not remember color combos for mixing, where to start, etc….)
    Then suddenly the struggle melted and I was making something as a present for, well, ME. And for Hubby too.
    And the very small piece will grace the space under our little tree.
    It’s all good…….once you get started!
    Just start early enough that you aren’t going crazy on the Eve of the Holiday~~artists especially need time to relax and enjoy.


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