"Creativity is just connecting things"*
I've struggled to prioritise blogging for a couple of months. Teaching, making and living have all been more important and, ultimately, there don't seem to be enough hours in the day. Or are there? Thinking about it, I remembered a post I wrote last year for a local business that hosts events for mums and their families. It's all about recognising and prioritising creativity when you're also a parent. It didn't get used so I wondered if you might like to read my second-best efforts?!
A recent study reckons that the average working mum of young children works 98 hours per week. So, after you’ve done everything else that isn’t working a job and raising your family, how much time is left for creativity? I run a small, creative business alongside raising small, creative people and I struggle too. The closest I come to it some days is opening pots of play-dough or watching Mister Maker.
At a small business network event last year, I was chatting about what I do. Everyone was lovely and supportive but it was interesting to hear things like “I’d love to do that but I don’t have time” or “it must be so nice to be creative”. Maybe people were just being polite but, to steal a phrase, I got to thinking about what creativity means to people and why it’s so low down the collective priority list.
Ever since our ancestors starting painting on cave walls there’s been something very human about making nice things and making things nice. Maybe for them it was a ritualistic or spiritual thing. Or maybe it just made a change from keeping the fire burning, raising little Neanderthals and hunting something for dinner. All of which presumably took more than 98 hours per week. So, perhaps it’s not the case that there’s no time for creativity in modern life.
I wondered if creativity has become too exclusive or annoyingly middle-class that we don’t relate to it anymore. Amazingly, Vogue was talking about quilting and other crafts as “hot trends on the runways” at the end of 2017 and even switching over to Channel 4 couldn’t repress the nation’s appetite for amateur bakers. Have the rest of us become automatons of modern family life with repressed creative instincts? I doubt it.
I suspect many of us don’t recognise creativity in things we all do like getting ready for a rare night out-out, taking photos on our phones or decorating our homes. All the mums in business I know are active on social media; taking or choosing images of their work that fit with the aesthetic of their brands and writing captions to engage with their customers. Maybe they hadn’t crocheted a blanket before breakfast but many of these talented women don’t recognise the creativity in what they do.
So, what’s different about those of us who come out as “creative”? Probably not all that much. Yes, we might be more purposefully creative and devote more time to it. But it’s still a very personal affair. Some people might like what we do, others not so much. Creativity is not the same as popularity. Nonetheless, whatever we create says something about us, how we like to live and our take on the big ideas, questions and shitty problems in the world.
Whatever your version of creativity is, acknowledge it, own it, nurture it and share it. After all, there’s another 70 hours a week up for grabs. Who needs sleep anyway?
* so said Steve Jobs, apparantly.