Tag Archives: small creative tasks

New Ways To Keep A Diary At 60+

Since teenagerdom I’ve been accumulating an enormous pile of books filled with agonisings, musings and outpourings about my life.

They inhabit the carrier bags of doom, stuffed in the back of a dark cupboard, cowering as the great de-clutter moves ever nearer.

All that scribbling has served me well over the years. The solitary pleasure of sitting up in bed writing frantically, getting it all out of my head and on to the page, has helped stop the merry-go-round of obsessive thoughts and even prompted the occasional decision.

What’s It For?

This year though, the cerise felt-covered book has lost its allure. What is the purpose of all this navel-gazing? Is there a better way to spend my time than writing it all down?

Lately I’ve realised that one reason I write is to put the brakes on time, to preserve experiences by writing them down, and keep them so my life won’t disappear behind me like a vapour trail. It doesn’t really work. Like old photo albums, diaries of the past can only represent a one-dimensional portrait of a moment long-gone.

I might be a lot better off putting my focus on the present moment.

Who Am I Writing For?

Sometimes I do want to look back, and sometimes it’s valuable. Other times it’s sad, like picking at an old wound. And often I end up berating myself, ‘…you really didn’t have a clue in those days, did you…’. Not kind, nor helpful.

I do sometimes imagine Older Me, arriving at a time when nothing new and noteworthy is happening in her life, so she actually wants to curl up with a pile of old diaries and leaf through – ‘Hmm, so I made a beef stew when Jenny and Sean came round in 1978 – no idea who they were…’

Maybe I’m writing them for my children.  Ah yes, the heritage. But a lot of it is such cringeworthy stuff, I’d far rather they burned the lot unopened. They might enjoy the childhood memories, such gems as my daughter’s comment, aged 2, hearing noises off in the supermarket loo saying loudly, ‘I think someone just done a big crap in there…’ – (where did she learn such vulgar language?).

But no. The diaries are crammed with the stuff of a life, large and small, and of interest only to me. And a lot of it not even that interesting.

Different Ways to Keep a Diary

Despite this, I still feel an urge to keep a lighter record, so  I’ve been trying a few things instead of the screed.

  • Draw rather than write. I like stick people and speech balloons.
  • Note one thing heard during the day that was funny, smart, or touching.
  • Sum the day up in one word
  • Pick a random word from a book and use it to spark a quick poem – write for 3 minutes

These are fun, quick and say a lot without the need for three pages of handwriting. If you’re an inveterate diarist, give them a go yourself.

Do you keep a diary? What is its underlying purpose – or does it even need one? Have you tried other ways of recording events in your life? Please share your thoughts below.

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Finding Time To Blog After 60

Time starts behaving very strangely when the familiar old constraints of job and family weaken their grasp or disappear entirely.

It is more than easy to drift through the days, mooching round the garden, turning out drawers, fiddling about on the computer, seeing friends, reading in the morning – I know, outrageous – and so, time sifts away.

It is an incredible privilege to be able to drift through the days for the first time ever since I was packed off to infants’ school aged 4. All those years under the cosh of the timetables, working hours, deadlines and routines.

It’s time to break free.

But to create Beyond 60 and do it well needs time, not drifty time, but focussed creative time.

I want to do it. The idea fires me up. Yet time is slippery, and elusive.

Here’s how I’ve managed to grab hold of a bit, and use it to make something happen.

The 10-minute trick
Snip out a 10-minute segment. Set a timer. Give that 10 minutes full attention and go like the clappers until ‘Brrring!’ – time to stop, but I nearly always keep going. And if I don’t, well, even 10 minutes is worth doing.

Use the right label
When I call my blog ‘work’, I feel ill. Seriously, my chest feels tight, I sit rubbing my forehead saying ‘ergh…’ and I do not feel at all well.

When I think of it as messing about with my blog, doodling with a few ideas because I feel like it – then it’s smiles all the way and a couple of hours gone by, and I walk away saying, ‘that was FUN!’.

Drop the deadlines
I’ve got a blog vision but there’s no rush to get there. One step at a time is all it needs. Keep doing it and don’t give up. But no self-flagellation, please. An hour here and there is ample.

Stop should-ing on myself
When the gremlin voices point out that I ‘should’ be: posting more often, conquering WordPress, making it look prettier etc et-flaming-cetera I offer them a two-word response, and get back to playing.

Experiment with resistance
Whenever I think I can’t be arsed, it’s too much work, no one will read it and so maybe I won’t do it – that’s the time to dance with resistance, play with it, tease it – do anything that’s light and fun to overcome it and use it to catapult me into something new and different.

I love these little tricks because they feel radical and completely opposite to the way I used to work, when work was what I did. And they make blogging feel exciting and fun.

Brrring! There goes the timer.

But before I go, do any of these ideas appeal to you? Have you any tips to help find time for precious creative projects? Please leave a comment below.

Live More Creatively After 60

 

‘Creativity’

The word pings into my mind in blue and gold. It sparkles and has curlicues. It’s rather alarming.

For a long time I gave creativity a very constrained meaning. ‘Creative’ people published novels, had exhibitions, renovated houses from top to bottom. If you’d asked, I’d have said I wasn’t creative at all. I was too busy marshalling my family’s everyday life.

Time to Live Creatively

It’s different, now that there’s time to reflect and explore. Creativity can become a way to live.

At times it can even give that start of blue, gold and glittery joy, but more often it’s a quiet glow of pleasure and satisfaction. What I know now, is that it’s a creative act to:

creativity**pick a flower from the garden and stick it in a wine bottle
**take a few minutes to compose a funny, kind or interesting text
**arrange ordinary objects in a way that catches the eye

Little acts of creativity weave a slender thread of delight through life, and make it more colourful, fun and interesting.

Bigger acts – hell, they are creative too. Raising a child. Pursuing a career. These are missions which call on us to troubleshoot, respond, decide, control – on the hoof and often with no experience.

So Many Ways to be Creative

Now that everyday life is less frantic, there are endless opportunities to bring your ingenious mind into play. Over just the last few weeks, thanks to friends who are embracing their creativity, I’ve eaten a still life of a tomato/mozzarella/basil salad; perused the draft of a novel; enjoyed a short story; heard a poem; played a duet; sat in a garden with swathes of late flowering plants tumbling over each other in a riot of colour. There is nowhere in life where creativity can’t burst out.

You can even tackle the most mundane household tasks in creative fashion. Revered Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh suggests we become fully alive even to tasks such as cleaning the loo with the advice to: ‘invest of yourself into the cleaning and make it a joyful practice’. Try it!  With this mindset there really is a pleasure to brushing and
swishing, and leaving the porcelain fragrant and glistening.

Once you’re alive to it, there are creativity chances everywhere, tiny ways to add beauty or a smile to everyday life.

Notice too how one small act of creativity leads to another, and how a string of mini creativities lead to something bigger.

Fear of Creativity

There’s a lot that can hold us back in the quest to be more creative. The anti-fun gremlins will be out in force.

What will people think? They won’t approve. I’ll look stupid. I won’t be able to do it. I never finish things. It’s a bad idea. I’m no good at….

If you’re scared of flexing your creativity muscles, remember that inventiveness can be minuscule and for your eyes only. It needn’t be enormous and out there in the world unless you want it to be. The choice is always yours.

So if you’re not yet ready to embark on the novel, just make a decision to relax, and write a couple of paragraphs every day, about anything.

Take the first small step. Take the next. That’s all there is to it. But take that first step.

Creative Choices

There are so many things to do and explore for us who are privileged to have arrived at a time of more freedom.

Sit awhile now, and think about a creative desire or two that you have.

Today, mine are to:
find a pattern to knit a pair of alpaca fingerless mitts for winter flute-playing
start a Dropbox file ‘family memories’ to share with my children
choose new colours for my kitchen that remind me of Cornwall

What are yours? Now’s the time. Please leave a comment by clicking on Leave a Reply at the top of this page, and share your creative desires.
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