Well, I’ve just gotten back from another writing retreat, this one in Pensacola Beach, FL, with my best friend/critique partner, Stephanie. We spent a whole week together this time (first time ever, in honor of her 40th birthday!), and we alternated our time between writing, walking on the beach, and talking and laughing.
These creative retreats–always writing for me–are amazing things. I’ve talked about them many times before. And what I love is that so many of you are inspired by them and email to ask advice for how to make the most of your OWN retreats you’re planning, whether it’s time away with friends or a few days you’ve taken off work at home to finish up that project you mean to be a gift before a special day.
As I’m in the midst of my own season of retreats and creativity, and as we’re approaching November, which is National Novel Writing Month and many writers I know will be putting their creative noses to the metaphorical grindstone–not to mention that the holidays are approaching and many creatives are making gifts for loved ones, or even for sale–I thought it was the perfect time to doff my cap to you all. Whether writers or crafters or quilters or seamstresses or yarn-artists or any number of other things, YOU are creative. Each and every one of you. Made in the image of our creative God.
A while back, I conducted a survey, which 125 of you took the time to fill out (THANK YOU!!). It was a LONG survey, so the fact that so many of you completed it is amazing and humbling! But I absolutely LOVED learning more about you. I loved how open and vulnerable you were on the questions about your hopes and fears, your dreams and disappointments. And I also loved seeing how you each express your creativity in the form of your hobbies.
I never actually shared those results with you all, which was such an oversight! I’m not doing to go into ALL the questions, of course, but as I’m pondering creativity, I do want to share the results of the hobby section–specifically, the creative aspects.
We all need to eat and most of us have other people we’re responsible for feeding now and then (or constantly) too. Sometimes this very basic act of creation–creating food meant to take the basic act of sustenance from necessity to pleasure–can be a chore. Sometimes it can be true artistic expression. Often, it’s something in between.
Now, I will readily admit that cooking usually feels like a chore to me, but baking is always a delight. I love making homemade breads, cookies, cakes, muffins…you name it. If it goes in the oven, I love to make it, and that goes for savory as well as sweet dishes.
And 60.8% of you also said that you consider baking or cooking to be a hobby! Now, how many of you who checked that box pause to think of it as creative? Hopefully all of you. Or if you haven’t before, I hope the next time you’re stirring together ingredients in the kitchen, you pause to consider that you’re taking bits and pieces of separate things and creating something new from them, just like an artist with a brush.
Creative expression through dance is another art form that I have such great appreciation for! From ballroom dancing to modern and everything in between, dancing is a performance that turns our bodies into our metaphorical paint brushes. I danced as a kid, and while I haven’t lately, my daughter took ballet for 13 years, and I love watching their shows. There’s something so amazing about seeing how the grace God granted humanity can be used to create these visuals with our limbs. Synchronized movement, then variated movement among the dancers…dance is something that always amazes me, impresses me, and makes me smile.
In my survey, 14.4% of you love dancing and do it enough to consider it a hobby. You are all artists!
Talk about imitating our Creator!
I am not a gardener. I love the idea of it and had great goals of getting into gardening when I was a young woman first out on my own, but then reality set in, and I realized I would rather spend that time doing other things, LOL. But I absolutely love the RESULTS of gardening and love seeing what other people grow. If you’re a gardener, I’d love to hear whether you focus on flowers or fruits and veggies, or both! What do you most love bringing forth from the ground? What’s the most fun for you to grow? The biggest challenge?
22.4% of you reported loving to garden! I imagine when you see what has sprung up from once-barren earth, you have a little sliver of the same “it is good” feeling that God had when He fashioned the earth and planted it.
When the kids were little, we did so much crafting! Sometimes it was using paper and glue and (that dreaded) glitter, sometimes it was craft sticks and hot glue and paint, sometimes it was molded string. We have Modge Podge in every variety, balsam wood, clay, paint…I actually just cleaned out our old craft basket and smiled over all the things my kids and I used to create. And we were just amateurs! When I scroll through Etsy looking for unique, handmade gifts, I’m in awe over how creative and skilled so many people are! From decorations made from old book pages (a fabulous way to recycle books otherwise destined for the trash, for sure!) to woodworking, to handmade ornaments and so much more, people’s crafty creations always make me smile.
And I’m not the only one! 29.6% of you claim crafting as a hobby, and I would LOVE to see some of the things you create!
Performance arts are so interesting, aren’t they? Music and dance and other performances are a unique kind of creativity, in that they vanish as soon as they’re completed. They can be appreciated only by being there and watching or listening, at least until relatively recently. Today, of course, we can record them and rewatch or listen. But that wasn’t the case for most of human history…and yet music has always been part of our story. So even without being able to trot it out over and over, humanity obviously placed great emphasis on creating and performing music, whether with an instrument or voice.
My first part-time job was playing the organ at my church. At one of my early office jobs in college, it soon became a joke that Nicole (who worked at the desk beside mine) talked to herself, and I sang to myself. So true. I have always been wont to break into song without warning (just ask my sister, who threatened to disown me as a teen if I didn’t stop singing first thing in the morning…).
And I am definitely not the only music lover among us! The survey reported that 36% of you are also musicians! This includes both vocal and instrumental music. But I’d love to know more! Do you sing? Play an instrument? Which ones? Do share in the comments!
Performing Arts (stage and screen)
Of course, there are more performing arts than dance and music, so I lumped them together as “stage and screen.” When I was in middle school, I fancied myself destined for an acting career for, oh, a year or two. I did some community theater productions–a one-act Christmas play and then The King and I. After that, I decided that while I loved it, I didn’t love the time investment and didn’t actually see myself pursuing it as a career, so I shrugged and decided to write another book instead. 😉
But the love never left me entirely, for sure, and in recent years as my husband has learned the film industry, my respect for everyone involved in creating such entertainment has only grown. The creativity involved in writing, acting, set-creation, lighting, sound, and more is awe-inspiring. And then if you toss in CG for screen stuff, not to mention costume design, choreography and staging…I mean, wow, right?
There were 12% of the survey-takers who are involved in this sort of performing arts. If you’re involved in stage or screen, I’d love to know what your favorite show you’ve worked on has been!
As a graphics designer, good photographers have my infinite respect and awe. I am TERRIBLE at photography. I don’t know why, but I learned long ago to pass my camera or phone to one of my kids instead of trying to take it myself, even when they were little, LOL. There is so much creativity, skill, instinct, and artistic eye involved in capturing an image in just the way you want to.
15.2% of you claimed photography as a hobby…but I bet many more of you than that take joy in capturing that sunrise or perfect flower, snapping pictures of your families and friends, or immortalizing a moment in time with the help of your camera or cell phone. And each time you do, you’re creating a lasting memory.
I probably only thought to include this one because I have 2 quilters in my P&P group, which means I’ve gotten to watch some quilts come to life before my eyes. So much fun! Before I got married, I decided I wanted to quilt, so hand-pieced a quilt-top, along with my best college friend…but I never actually finished the quilting, LOL. And I have no idea where the top is…my MIL took it to someone to finish, but we never got it back, and that was 20 years ago, so…
Anyway. Candice and Deanna aren’t alone, but they’re in the minority. There were 5.6% of you who reported loving to quilt. Few, but we can all appreciate the artistry and functionality of the beauty you create with fabric and thread. =)
A not surprising 96.8% of you reported reading as a hobby, and I’d love to know who on my list doesn’t love reading, that we’re missing 3.2% LOL. 😉
Seriously, though, my P&P group debated whether reading was creative, and I decided that OF COURSE it is! Reading is how we interact with writing, but it’s more than that. When we read, we create too. We add ourselves to what the writer created, we take it in and make it our own. We visit new places, we imagine new people, we hear their voices and experience whole worlds with them. And we do it creatively. No two people experience a book in the same way, no two people imagine the characters exactly the same. Each book you read is YOURS, and part of your own creativity.
I love listening to the stories people tell about parents and grandparents who sew, about learning it themselves, about passing it along. We laugh over stories of kids who either love or hate what’s created for them, and what sort of sewing people excel at. I daresay we ALL love that so many people DO sew! That’s how we get the clothes we wear, the dresses we drool over, the items we need for our homes, and so much more.
My own use of a needle and thread is minimal, but sewing is something I wish I could do better, and which my daughter hopes to master when she has the time, so that she can create or alter her own clothes (necessary for someone as petite and slender as she is–nothing ever fits!). There were 23.2% of you who checked that box, and I’d love to know what your favorite thing is to sew. =)
Visual Arts (drawing, painting, sculpting etc)
Often when we think of creatives, visual artists spring to mind. These are the drawers and painters, the sculptors and creators that we usually think of when we say the word “artist.” I love visual arts, though I’m by no means an expert. I have an artistic eye and a small dose of talent (very small), enough to make me really appreciate those who can just take a pencil, paper, and make something beautiful appear on it. My daughter and niece are both amazing artists and make me so proud.
According to my survey, 11.2% of you take joy in creating this kind of art, and of course I would LOVE to see what you create. =) What’s your preferred media? Subject? Style?
I was so excited to see that 43.2% of you are writers too! I’m obviously partial to this form of creativity, and I talk about it enough that I daresay I don’t need to wax poetical here. 😉 But I am curious about whether such a huge percentage of ALL my readers also write, or if it’s just that fellow-writers are more likely to fill out a survey for one of their own, LOL. 😉 In either case, three cheers for the wordsmiths who create whole worlds, filled with people and stories, in their minds and put them down for others to share in as well!
Yarn Crafts (Knitting, Crocheting, etc)
In 2015, a wonderful lady at my church decided to start knitting and crocheting lessons before our weekly Bible study, so I thought, “Sure, we’ll go.” I’d always had a fascination with the simple beauty of yarn, but I had never picked up either a knitting needle or crochet hook before. But after the first lesson, once I’d figured out what in the world that basic knit stitch was, I attacked knitting with the single-minded focus I occasionally get for anything that I find interesting. Yes, we can call it obsession. It was, LOL. I didn’t want to wait for the next week to learn how to purl, so I had YouTube instruct me. And then I watched some other videos. And I went into my next lesson with a potholder-sized piece in three colors that I’d created with no pattern, just watching a pretty stitch someone did on YouTube. Judith (my teacher) was dumbfounded. The next week, I’d made a cabled scarf (because how was I supposed to know that cabling was difficult? It looked easy enough to me!). I definitely operated on the “I don’t know what I can’t do” mentality and dove off the deep-end, for sure, LOL.
I wouldn’t consider knitting an obsession these days, but I do absolutely still love to do it. I’ve learned what I can’t do yet (short rows, man…I need to watch videos every time!) and also learned that smaller projects suit my time constraints better. I get bored with larger ones. I’ve only crocheted a few small things, but one of these days when time permits, don’t be surprised if I determine to master that too. 😉
And clearly this is still a very popular pastime! 29.6% of you claim yarn crafts as a hobby. Do tell me whether you prefer knitting or crocheting, and if you have a favorite type of project or particular pattern you return to over and again. I think shawls are always going to be my go-to…so much variety and beauty!
I also gave people the chance to write in other hobbies I hadn’t put on the form. There were many that included physical activities that I’m not defining as strictly “creative” for the purposes of this post, but the other creative ones included writing encouraging notes, puzzles, woodworking, soap making, candle making, journaling, and scrapbooking.
You are all SO creative, in so many ways! And I love seeing the variety that creative bent takes in us all. =)