Moulding a Creative Headspace

I feel like I blinked and my second year of uni is over! AH! It is mad how fast time has flown by this year. It’s been a busy one. The contrast of going from living with your mates 24/7 in a thriving city, to all of a sudden you’re home in your sleepy village is big. It’s a weird feeling. Obviously it is amazing to see my family (despite the one that is currently half way across the world gap yearing), and it’s always good when you come home exhausted and crash after the post-exam celebrations. I’m also someone who does appreciate down time, and in the first week I was home, I loved completely losing track of time in painting, baking or writing. I’ve also been on long cycle rides, and generally just living on my bike to get about (who needs a driving license, huh?). It is something I defo do miss when I’m in the city bustle of brum. Getting out in the countryside really does bring me a lot of happiness and it’s a fab way to just enjoy the sunshine.

However, in my second week of being home I found myself scrolling endlessly on Instagram and Facebook, and it does take conscious effort to put it away and solely focus on just the thing I’m doing, like painting for example. Or even writing this! I think it is so important to do so. One of my mates was saying how her Snapchat has broken and she deleted Instagram off her phone, seeing it first as a negative but how it has actually done her a world of good. The downsides of phones in public is always talked about, but for me when I’m out and about I find it easy to not be on my phone. It’s when I’m at home it’s a problem, because it’s just the easy option for what to do. Mobile phones are constant; there’s always someone to talk to or someone posting something. An interruption to whatever you’re doing is inevitable. For me, it completely ruins the flow of what I’m doing. As much as it can distract me from my university work, it is also the easier option and a more favourable thing to choose over reading a book or creating something. I think this affects the generation younger than me the most, as it’s harder for children to see the negative impacts of social media. But it does also affect my generation and those above, we just have to be proactive in handling it and using it for good.

What is actually gained from scrolling through endless newsfeeds? Social media is amazing in keeping in contact with loved ones of course, and also to connect and share with like-minded individuals. I like sharing my photos on Instagram, but sometimes I do question the point in it all. You can see your own activity on the app and the minutes really do add up. It is a questionable use of time. I have recently been particularly bad at this, and a habit I want to break is going on my phone before bed. When I was younger I would always be buried in a book at this point. I am someone who often can’t fall asleep straight away, and so I’ve decided I want to change this habit. I used to power through books and become completely immersed in the story and it’s something I miss. After my initial chilled 2 weeks, I now feel very busy working at a restaurant and meeting up with my mates who are home too. I have loved seeing them all over the past few weeks, and through this I have also felt a lot of appreciation for Cambridge itself. I forget how the idyllic colleges and greens of Cambridge paint picturesque scenes; it is a beautiful city. My summer is busy and a lot of fun, but I want to make the time for activities on my own; I need to find a balance. I haven’t posted on here for ages!

Is multi-tasking a myth?

I want to set aside quality time to write. As much as many of us are capable of multi-tasking, I think it is very important to sometimes solely put all of your energy into one thing. It is hard to do so, but I think it’s good for us to focus in on an activity and to immerse yourself in it. We are nearly always multi-tasking in an attempt to do everything at once. When your attention is spread across an assortment of pursuits, you’re actually less productive and efficient than you think you are being, through doing activities simultaneously. So you aren’t completing the task to the best of your ability. Multi-tasking slows down how productive you are and different activities require different mindsets. Are you actually multi-tasking if everything is slightly worse off than if you had devoted your whole attention span to one sole activity? Everyone is different, but when you’re giving yourself down time or trying something new, give it your whole attention and you’ll benefit so much more. Get in the zone!

Immerse yourself in a creative bubble

Being on your own is easy to see as a negative, but I think solitude breeds creativity. It is important to have alone time. Being alone with your thoughts allows your brain to wander and therefore opportunity for creativity arises. I’m not saying go and sit on your own and try to think deeply, but go and do something with just yourself. Get off your phone and push your creative side. Do something with food (always a good choice as your creation will be edible, hopefully) or draw or write. On a quiet afternoon at work I was chatting to a colleague about art. We were discussing how we always focus on the outcome of the creative process, for example the finished piece of art. However, we should instead just enjoy the process and push ourselves in the creation itself. If we have challenged ourselves or had fun in the process, why do we need evidence or to have a perfect outcome? It made me question my own creative processes. I spend an afternoon losing myself in a painting in a new technique, but then if it doesn’t turn out how I imagined I feel like I’ve disappointed myself, and in the bin it goes. Or I spend a few hours writing a blog post and it ends up going nowhere, I feel like it was pointless. It made me realise that sometimes it would be good for me to loosen my perfectionist instincts surrounding creative things. I need to not keep thinking about the perfect finalised outcome, but just enjoy the activity that I’m doing. It’s not always necessary to have aims, I want to just see where getting creative takes me! Creativity should be about the process; the outcome does not have to be flawless, or even come to a precise finished outcome.

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