Between the Lines

It’s lack that gives us inspiration. It’s not fullness.
—Ray Bradbury

Kathy Steffen

March. Cold. You’re stuck inside. Spring seems years away. There, feeling a little “lack” now? Next step is to inspire yourself instead of watching reruns or hanging out on Facebook reading memes. The end of winter is the perfect time for creativity to lift you to a new place.
You may have seen children engage in creative play. They turn a box into a spaceship or paper bags into puppets that embark on amazing adventure stories. They know something we forgot — when you create without a goal or outcome in mind, benefits abound. Creative play relieves stress, increases emotional wellbeing, and improves your imagination (and brain function) by allowing you to think outside routine. How do you reconnect to the place where your mind can wander and your creativity is free to come out? Here are some ideas, but remember Creativity Rule No. 1: You aren’t creating to impress anyone or hang something on a wall. Your creative play is just for you.
Photography! Grab your cell phone, lace up your boots and go outside to take photos. It will change the way you see things! Too cold outside? Look around the house for some of your favorite things. Photograph color. Cooking. Something broken. Take a photo standing on a chair looking down. Now, on the floor, looking up. Illustrate an abstract concept or emotion with a photo: love, anger, sadness, relax, celebrate, creative, music. Choose a favorite quote and photograph it. Photograph the people in your life. Photograph your day.
Journal! We’ve discussed journaling before, but here’s a quick overview. Get a notebook. Or a new file on your computer. Write. Journaling will give you all the terrific benefits from above plus will sharpen your communication skills. Write about your favorite things or things you hate. What are you proud about in your life? What was the most painful experience in your life? Best experience? Your favorite kind of day. Five people you admire. You get the idea. Write.
Paint! Yes, you. Buy an inexpensive set of paints (or color pencils if drawing feels friendlier) and a mixed media, watercolor or sketching book. Look out of the window and paint what you see. Go through photos (or take a new one — see above) and find one to paint. Paint your favorite plant, an owl or a cardinal in the snow. Make a list of things you love. Choose one and paint it.
Collage! Mix words and images on a board (using computer images, magazines, or old greeting cards). Not sure where to start? Collage your hopes and dreams. What you want to accomplish in the next year. Create a self-portrait collage. Go to that photography list and make a collage from your list of abstract concepts and emotions.
Before you know it, winter will be over. And you’ll have re-connected your creative spirit.

Kathy Steffen is an award-winning novelist and author of the “Spirit of the River Series:” “First, There is a River,” “Jasper Mountain,” and “Theater of Illusion.” She writes from her home in Spring Green that she shares with her husband and cats and is grateful for all. Find out more at http://www.kathysteffen.com.