Creativity and Playfulness

Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.

Henri Matisse

I’m reading and using a lovely book called Hook to Heal by Kathryn Vercillo as part of a Read-a-Long organised by my friend Di at Story Skeins. It is such an interesting experience, and I am finding it hugely beneficial to have a reason and incentive to think about creativity, art and crafting, the relationship between them, how they interact for me, and what they mean to me, my life, my family and my work.

My tendency is to seriousness, perfectionism and negative self-criticism, and in recent years, as my confidence has been undermined by my anxiety issues, I incline towards timidity, which in turn leads to me creating in a rather ‘stick to the rules – it’s safer’ way. I recognise these things within themselves, and four years of practising CBT and meditation (on and off) has helped me to learn not to beat myself up about it all. Vercillo herself has very stern words for that kind of activity – being kind to yourself is a real theme of the book. So no more of that, let’s move on to the positives.

I know that I do my best creative work when I allow myself to muck around, go with the flow, wonder what would happen if…. I also know that I enjoy myself most when creating if I commit to the rhythm of making, staying in the present, and not worrying about the next stage or the end product. So I am reminding myself to focus on the moment, the rhythm and repetition… the movement of the yarn over the hook, the turn of my wrist as I manoeuvre my crochet hook through stitch loops, the movement of fabric through my sewing machine, the pull of the thread through the fabric as I hand stitch, the rhythm as I create the symmetry of quilt blocks, one by one…

Vercillo asks us to make a creative commitment as we start out with the healing exercises in the book … I’ve been thinking of what I’d like and enjoy committing to (I don’t want to end up resenting the process). Here’s what I want to do:

I commit to focusing on the project in hand, when I am doing it, allowing myself to enjoy the act of creating itself, rather than worrying about the next complicated step, or the end product. I commit to enjoying the the rhythm and simplicity of the stitches that I make. I commit to trying new things, just for fun, without worrying about the yarn, fabric, thread or time devoted to playing and experimenting. I commit to being flexible when things don’t quite go according to plan, opening my mind to new possibilities and alternatives. I commit to trying again when things don’t work out the first time, or the second… instead of giving up in a haze of self-blame. I commit to thinking positively about my work, even my mistakes, even those things that didn’t turn out quite now I wanted. I commit to reminding myself that it is ok (no, it’s the right thing to do!) to have fun and ‘just’ play.

Playful crochet

It was lovely to sit watching old Dr Who episodes with my boys last night, and then sit in the sun this afternoon, working on this little flower, being in the moment.

5 thoughts on “Creativity and Playfulness

  1. The way you describe yourself could also be written about me, I found your comments so interesting and informative and would like to thank you as well, for being open about yourself in this way and in helping all of us who suffer from self doubt.
    We always think we are the only ones who have these feelings and criticise ourselves relentlessly, not just only in our crafting but in life in general.
    I think the book and your explanation of how you have been affected by negative thoughts and self doubt is inspirational.
    I attend a sewing class and our very patient teacher is always saying to me, and my fellow sewing buddies that my/our work doesn’t have to be perfect. She says that I should enjoy the process of sewing (embroidery, patchwork etc) and it is the overall effect that anyone, other than myself, will see when looking at my work.
    And, as my husband constantly tells me, if you want something perfect then buy mass produced items – although when you look closely at anything mass produced how perfect is it?
    I have never learned to crochet (how I wished I had asked my Nan to show me) but at the age of 62 I am learning new sewing skills and the principle of Kathryn Vercillo’s book can be applied to so many creative projects.
    Once again thank you for highlighting the positive message this book gives to us all.

  2. A beautifully written piece Ali. I think you are an inspiration to many people and it takes some doing to open up so much of yourself, thank you for sharing and keep up the good work.x

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