Turn the kettle on, make a cup of tea and settle in. Today, we’re talking about personal creative projects. It’s likely you have the beginnings of one already. It starts with a thought, an intention, or just a vague ambition of creating something in particular — writing a novel, painting a portrait, making a video series, sewing a me-made wardrobe, filling a sketchbook, learning to knit . . . If you’re anything like me, you have more than one project in mind. You probably have the beginnings of a list.
Creative projects are a sustaining force for creatives and makers. They give us a chance to follow the breadcrumbs of inspiration, explore new interests, and learn more about our own creativity and potential. They also are essential for discovering the unique style and voice that we all have, and are a central part of building up a creative practice and signature body of work.
Even if you don’t view yourself as an artist or other creative, working on personal projects is a way to bring quiet, fulfilling moments into your day. Even if your project is simple such as copying your grandmother’s recipes into a new book or cataloging your seed collection, approaching a project with a clear intention can carry you through to the end.
Why start a creative personal project? Four reasons to get creating:
If you haven’t ventured into a personal project yet, there is no time like the present! In the process, you’ll learn and polish skills that will take you triumphantly into your next project. And at the end of your project you’ll have a piece of work that truly represents you and what you do.
1. Discover your style and voice
The work you make is uniquely yours, and the more you make, the more recognisable it becomes. Defining your style is a complex and exciting thing. While a personal style is made up of many parts (your inspirations, your techniques, your personal tastes, and more), it is through creating artistic and creative works that your style grows. When deciding on a personal project, be sure to invest in ideas that speak to your interests, aspirations, and dreams.
2. Follow your purpose
Why do you do what you do? There is something in every creative person, fuelling them to create and make. Do you know what that is, for you? What brings you joy, and what makes picking up your pen (or pencil, or sewing needle, or paintbrush) worth it? Knowing the why can help you work through the hard parts of creating, and keep you going when your creative work isn’t coming easily. It can also strengthen the work itself, and clarify the message your work tells to other people.
3.Tell your story and values
Creative work comes from the heart. It comes with a story, one that the maker is telling to the viewer. Knowing your values - the things you care strongly about - means you can identify your values coming through your work, and strengthen the story that they tell. So, what do you care about most? What do you want people to feel and think about when they see your work? What part of you do you want to share with the world?
4. Follow your direction onwards
What does your dream creative life look like? Picture an average day in your dream life—what are you making or working on? What art are you creating? If that art feels far away and unachievable, then know that a personal project is the first step towards attaining that creative practice and life you long for. Personal projects help us discover and shape our creative dreams, and in doing so, form the path that takes us there. If your dream creative life includes painting oil portraits of dogs for a living, but you haven’t really dedicated much time to the artistic study of dogs or learning techniques in oil painting, then you are far away from your goal. By weaving the studies and techniques you want to learn into your personal creative projects, you are making headway towards your dream.
How to daydream up a personal creative project
The very first steps to realising a dream project are quiet and personal. It’s a slow uncurling of aspirations, captured in ink, between you and your notebook alone. These first words might never be shared with anyone, but they are important.
Some will have a creative project waiting to go, something they’ve already thought of and dreamed about. Others will have only a vague inkling of an idea, and nothing clearly defined. This stage of our retreat warm-up is about sketching out a shape for your project, visualising the process and the end point, and committing to embarking upon your creative journey.
We suggest writing down the big idea of your creative project in one-two sentences. Be as pithy or as flippant as you wish. Your project might be something that takes a few hours, or something that takes a few years. It might be something you feel confident in completing, or something that will challenge you.
Now you’ve stated your intent, let your thoughts wander further. Look at the list of journalling questions below, and consider answering the ones that feel relevant to you and your project. Be honest and truthful — no one need read this but you.
What moment, experience, or thing inspired the idea behind this project?
Why do you feel compelled to do this project?
What do you hope to learn or discover in the process of this project?
What stories do you want to tell, what emotions do you want to evoke – and why?
Will you share your work with other people, and if so, how?
If your project is something new, what do you think it will add to your current creative process?
If your project is something ongoing, are you struggling to complete it? If so, why? (Time, motivation, inspiration, resources?)
- What is your perfect, dreamy creative day? Picture it, from morning till dusk. Think of this project as the first step towards one day achieving it.
I hope this blog post inspired you to get started on your dream project. We’d love to see your projects over on instagram — tag @rosemarkpress so we can cheer you on!