100 days of creativity: my digital doodling project

It’s no secret that I am a huge believer in the power and value of creativity to enhance our lives. This can take any form – it’s simply doing something which you love and which makes your heart sing.

Q: what is creativity?

A: the relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration

~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

At the start of a workshop recently, attendees were asked to introduce themselves – you know, that initial ‘creeping death’ exercise – to include something about ourselves that we felt other people should know. I found myself saying that being creative every day was one of the most important aspects of my life, to the extent that an absence of creativity causes detriment to my health and wellbeing.

Cue a rather uncomfortable tumbleweed moment, as the other participants looked at me blankly. Admittedly, this was a somewhat unusual thing to say in the context of a business meeting about strategic planning. In fact, it even came as a surprise to me to find out that this is how I felt. And yet, as I was speaking, I could feel in my bones the compelling truth of my words.

I consider myself to be very fortunate that I have the time and mental energy to make things on a regular basis. I have written plenty of times on this blog about my knitting and crochet projects, baking escapades, photography etc. But it occurred to me that I don’t actively prioritise being creative as an essential part of how I use my time.

A couple of days ago, I was on a train to Glasgow for a meeting. Whereas I would usually be checking e-mails, ticking stuff off my to do list etc, I chose instead to make some art. I had been reading a book about the Scottish artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh over the weekend – this year marks the 150th anniversary of his birth – and decided on the spur of the moment to close the inbox and doodle some CRM-esque roses:

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed working on this sketch, for which I used the Procreate Pocket app on my phone and a stylus. Just 30 minutes of this activity gave me a zing in my heart and a spring in my step for the rest of the day.

Developing a regular sketching habit has been on my list of ‘things I really want to achieve’ for far too long now. So I have decided to have a go at the ‘100 day project’ challenge. This is where you commit to doing something small each day for, yes, 100 days in a row. It can be absolutely anything – I have seen examples of people doing yoga, taking a photograph, publishing a favourite quote. You get the idea. In my case, I will be publishing a digital doodle on Instagram each day. Here’s the first one:

Sitting here at my desk, I can hear a wide range of different birdsong – goldfinches, great tits, chaffinches – but what stands out are the swoops of the swifts’ rasping screech – a wonderfully iconic sound at this time of year.

I wondered whether it was wise to write about this project at the start, or whether it would be better to discuss it at the end, once I could say I had actually done it. I decided that sharing the experiment as I went along might be more interesting. Who knows, in a few weeks’ time, I might be writing about how difficult it was to maintain. But let’s not be too negative. I am actually expecting to be writing about all the very positive and joyous results of finally embracing a habit which has long been my wish to develop. We’ll see! 🙂

Six degrees of separation: From The Tipping Point to Doctor Zhivago

Six Degrees of Separation is a meme hosted by Kate on her blog Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month, a book is chosen as a starting point. Players then publish their own chain, linking the first book six others. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the others on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The links can be a tenuous and tangential as you like!

And as a bonus this month, I have created a playlist to accompany my book links on my LeapingTracks music blog.

This month’s starting point is Malcolm Gladwell’s non-fiction book The Tipping Point. I have this on my shelf and read it ages ago when it first came out in paperback. It is an excellent read, with many fascinating insights.

On the back cover, it says that the book is about “that magic moment when ideas, trends and social behaviour cross a threshold, tip and spread like wildfire”. So taking magic as my link to the first book in this sequence, my next choice is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I adore this book and flick through it regularly. It is full of wisdom about the importance and joys of maximising creativity in our lives. I wrote about this in more detail here.

There’s another form of magic for my second link: my first encounter with magic as a child was reading Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. How marvellous it seemed to find oneself in an enchanted wood, with a tree which provides a gateway to mystical lands. I loved reading about Moonface and all the other inhabitants of the faraway tree, although I must admit to having a few nightmares about being left forever in one of the lands when it turned away from the tree’s portal. No wonder the memory of this book has stayed with me for more than 40 years!

Mention of Moonface gives me my next link to Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively. This is one of my current reads – I want to read, or re-read all five books on the Golden Booker Prize shortlist before I vote.

One of Lively’s main characters in this book is called Jasper and the title makes me think of Tiger’s Eye. So my mind is very firmly on gemstones taking me to my next link, The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O’Connor – an incredible true story about a Viennese Jewish society lady and her relationship with a now-famous painting and the Nazis.

Vienna is the setting of, and therefore the link to, my next book, which is The Third Man by Graham Greene, a brilliant thriller based around the murder of Harry Lime. Some herald the film of this book as one of the greatest of all time. Certainly it must have one of the most memorable theme tunes. So, for my final leap, I lean on another soundtrack-related link. Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago is one of my favourite books, and perhaps my favourite ever film, not least because of its musical themes.

And there you have it. A book about human relationships and behaviours in non-fiction form eventually leads us rather nicely to a novel about the same thing. Nice! 🙂