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“Creative points” and dividing your time between creative outlets

August 6, 2011

I seem to have an internal creative points system. To function properly, I need to be creative. I have an inner creative-o-meter that needs to be filled up, and there are several ways to do it. – But one is more efficient than the others.

While this blog is focused on writing, and I think of myself mainly as a story writer, I do a number of other creative things. I take pictures, draw, paint a certain kind of hobby dolls, and I sew and used to make elaborate costumes. And I write non-fiction (like blogging).
Is it a blessing or a curse to have several kinds of creative outlets? I tend to think of it as a blessing. If I get stuck with one thing, I can always turn to another and still enjoy creativity. They are all connected somehow, though some more closely than others. Many of them are based on the same stories, or the same people in the stories. I like to draw the characters I write about. I like to take pictures of locations in the stories, and so on. But I must admit that there are days when I think how much I could be doing in one area if I never did anything else.

However, there is an internal hierarchy of how many creative points I get doing various things. It’s a metaphor for how it feels. I don’t actually think in points, but it’s the best way I can think of to explain the feeling.
I drew comics once, but they were slow at getting anywhere, and I wasn’t as good at conveying emotions and development visually as I was in writing. So, in other words, I do get something out of drawing, but not nearly as much as I do out of writing a story.
Say I need ten creative points in a day to feel good (the points are arbitrary, and the following are just examples). I can spend one hour working on a story and get those ten points, or I can spend four hours drawing. If I sew for half an hour, I get one point, but if I write for those 30 minutes, I get five. I get two points for going on a trip to take photos, but I get the same amount from scribbling a few lines in a notebook.

Writing is the one thing I have to get back to quickly. I can go for weeks or even months without one of my other creative outlets. Some of them I will miss, but it will be more of a melancholy feeling or wanting to have fun doing that thing again than a powerful urge or need to do it. But I feel writing tugging at me if I don’t do it even for a few days.
Most of my creative outlets are hobbies that I spend time on because I want to. Writing I do because I need to. – Not that I don’t enjoy it because I certainly do, but it is a passion or a love affair, a fulfilling compulsion, more than a sparetime hobby.

Is it odd that I gave blogging a category of its own in the beginning of this entry? I know blogging is writing, but the kind of writing that I need is fiction writing, story writing. I enjoy blogging, I really do. But if I had to choose between writing stories and non-fiction, the stories would win without hesitation.

I imagine that it is the same for people who have an other creative main outlet. If I were actually a photographer, the perspective would be different. Taking pictures would be the most satisfying thing to me, and I would like dabbling in writing or knitting or putting together miniature racing cars or something else once in a while as a hobby.

Do you have more than one creative hobby? How do you divide your time between them? And do you feel that one is more fulfilling or important than others?

17 Comments leave one →
  1. August 6, 2011 1:52 pm

    When I was younger, I had a lot of creative hobbies. It’s probably a great idea to keep some side hobbies for when you need a creative refresher.

    Now that I’m older though (okay, 31, not that old, but not that young anymore), I’ve settled on writing. I still find I have other outlets, but writing is the preference and the focus.

    Also, I don’t find it odd you have blogging as separate from other writing. It is a totally different skill which I found to be very handy for writing fiction, and one I don’t think you can pick up from only working on fiction.


    • August 7, 2011 7:09 pm

      I like the thought of the other creative outlets “creative refreshers”. That’s how I feel sometimes! Like you, I tended to split my creative time more evenly between my hobbies when I was younger. Maybe we got more “focused” with time. 🙂
      Thank you for the comment!


  2. August 6, 2011 2:53 pm

    Yes I’m very much the same. Even within just the field of writing I have a number of books on the go at any given time. Right now I’m working on two series of books, one is a 6 book science fiction series and another is a series of technical books, plus a few other individual books which are just taking shape. Whatever crosses my mind is what I try to jot down even if its just a note or two to pick up later, or a link I’ve found. I try to work on what is pulling at me at any given moment, so over time I build up enough material here and there to complete a given project, perhaps with a few blooming together at the same time.

    This is why my science fiction book is over 10 years in the making so far and my first book in only in the second draft. I’ve had to learn so much in order to be able to tell this story that it has had to wait for me to catch up. So I’ve ditched deadlines for it and just hold faith that it will come together at some point , just as the beginning 5 chapters has finally just come together recently for me. I’ve probably written at least 30 versions of the beginning at least, but in doing that I’ve learned more about the story, the world, the characters and of course writing itself.

    So in the same vein I turn to other forms of creativity such as photography, singing and playing the guitar, baking and cooking (I consider this a form art as it evolves over time as you experiment with what works) to name a few. I even find doing things that involves my hands such as housework and gardening becomes time I can touch base with my muses (as we’ve already discussed above) so this becomes indirectly creative time. Being spontaneous, doing something outside your usual routine, these all impact too as it lights up the creative side of the brain.

    Whatever enriches the sub-conscious in the end, provides experiences and new ways of looking at things all help to strengthen the creative muscle over time, so when you are ready to sit down and apply it you have material to work with no matter what the medium.


    • August 7, 2011 7:12 pm

      I can’t say I’ve spent 10 years on one story – but then, I have spent that long with some of my protagonists in a manner og speaking, so I think I can relate. Wow, 30 versions of the beginning … I’m impressed with your commitment!
      I can see how cooking can be an art. Gardening can be too, can’t it? “Indirectly creative time” – I have a lot of that too. Good term!
      Thanl you for commenting and liking! 🙂


  3. August 6, 2011 3:35 pm

    I do have other outlets as well. I love photography, but it comes in fits and starts (as evidenced by the fact that I’m letting my poor photo blog languish this summer!) And like Niamh said, I believe cooking is a creative outlet, and I love to do that as well. For me, blogging isn’t in a different category. I think of myself as mainly an essayist, so blog posts feel like a hybrid personal/research essay. I think I’ve mentioned before that I have more ideas in my head than ‘stories’, so I feel like writing fiction is more of a forced activity than writing an essay. I have to sit and search for a story I’d want to tell whereas ideas that I want to work out in writing bombard me, unbidden, most days.

    I’ve tried various forms of art, but I’m not any good at anything smaller scale, which is probably why I turned to photography to be able to create something visual and not just verbal (or edible! ;). I like home improvement projects, though, and even rearranging the furniture can feel very satisfying. I want to learn more about carpentry, because that kind of manual work feels very satisfying as well.

    Nice post!


    • August 7, 2011 7:16 pm

      “Fits and starts”, that seems familiar. 🙂 With ideas rather than stories in your head, I can definitely see what you mean. I’m more of a storyteller than an essayist, though I do enjoy writing articles/blog posts/essays. I just don’t have as much of a compulsion to.
      Thank you for sharing your views! 🙂


  4. Maggie permalink
    August 6, 2011 6:49 pm

    I’m not a very creative person except when it comes to writing fiction. I can’t draw a stick figure, I can’t sing or write music, I was never big on sewing… but scrapbooking or calligraphy… that’s something I could get into. 🙂


    • August 7, 2011 7:19 pm

      Scrapbooking is very fascinating. I’m tempted to try my hand it someday. And I think that and calligraphy are both creative things.
      Thank you for the comment! 🙂


  5. August 8, 2011 7:10 am

    I believe developing more than one creative outlet helps your creativity in general. I have several creative interests besides writing, but lately I’ve found myself focusing on writing to the exclusion of my other interests. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂 At this point in my life I am a writer first, but I still need to create in other media.

    This month I’m starting a kilt-sewing project. As a motivator, I’ve decided no matter what kind of kilts I end up making, at the end of this coming fall, the pictures are going on my blog. 🙂


    • August 24, 2011 10:23 am

      I think you’re right. I find that especially the creative interests that somehow fit together help each other along. A simple example would be that drawing someone you write about could help you describe them better. But I think it works in more complex ways too.
      Kilt-sewing? That sounds very interesting! (I’ve been wanting a kilt for a while …) Looking forward to seeing the pictures. 🙂
      Thank you for the comment!


  6. August 14, 2011 8:19 pm

    I never though of it in terms of creative points before, but I do think being creative (however you define it) is very impotant

    I wrote and drew all the time in high school. In college, I mostly wrote. After college I stopped doing either and started going crazy. I wrote advertising copy and needed to find a way to re-energize that didn’t include words…I hated my job so much that I started to hate writing. And yet I missed it.

    I signed up for an art class and that saved me. I was able to think creatively, work out my job frustrations and get back into creative writing again…and became a much happier person!


    • August 24, 2011 10:25 am

      I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who goes crazy if I stop being creative. 🙂
      I can imagine how copy writing would do that to you … I didn’t enjoy graphic design very much when I worked with it (in a very non-ccreative way) for a living.
      Glad to know you got back on the creative writing horse again and enjoy it now!
      And thank you for commenting. 🙂


  7. August 16, 2011 7:32 pm

    I do have a lot of different creative outlets. I am a really bad knitter, and I like to make my own post cards for fun. But writing is more important to me than all the other stuff. I think a big part of that has to do with me deciding to take my story seriously. It is still fun to do, but I am no longer just doing it for fun.

    On a points scale for enjoyability of creative outlets. I would definitely give writing more points than the others.

    I hadn’t thought about creativity like that before. Great post!


    • August 24, 2011 10:27 am

      I can’t knit my way out of a wet paperbag, so you’d impress me. 😉
      It makes sense what you way about taking your story seriously. It makes you commit emotionally, I think.
      I’m glad you liked the post! Thank you for the comment! 🙂


    • August 26, 2011 3:14 am

      Yeah, I can knit scarves like it’s no one’s business. But patterns and curves make me nervous. 😉


  8. August 26, 2011 11:02 pm

    Wow I thought I loved loads of things and I’m only into writing, singing and acting!! Reading those post has made me feel great knowing that it is not just me who loves and thrives on creativity. Great post!


    • September 4, 2011 9:37 am

      Thank you! Apparently lots of like to dabble in various creative hobbies.

      Welcome to my blog, and thank you for the comment! 🙂


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