Posts Tagged 'creativity'

How to Start a Poem

There are a million ways to begin;
OK, maybe twenty-six.
But the little letter i
opens out to infinity,
and without u
there would be no universe.
And e begins every ending.

To start, all you need is the letter s.
And a w brings the whole world
tumbling after it.

Wanna Be More Creative? Start Creating.

I think most people would say the following statement is true:

People who are creative create.

But I think we’ve mostly got it backwards—I think it’s quite the opposite:

People who create are creative.

This may seem like a subtle difference, but I think it’s the key to being creative and sustaining a creative practice. Let me explain . . .

If I had to give you one ultimate truth about the creative process that I’ve learned through making art regularly, it would be: Art leads to more art, meaning: the more art you make, the more ideas you get for more art. This is true with any creative process. There’s just no way to stop it from happening: when you’re making something you inevitably get ideas to make other things because your mind naturally thinks up new ideas and solutions, especially when you’re in a creative state of mind.

Creative ideas are often talked about like these lightning bolts that come out of the blue. We’ve all heard some version of a story about the creative genius who got her/his career-defining idea in the shower, on the bus, while walking—in general while doing nothing. This might lead you to think that if you were really creative, then you too would get these lightning bolt ideas. And if you haven’t, that must mean you’re not really creative. The part that is being left out of the story is that said “genius” had been spending hours and days of his or her life creating and therefore mentally immersed in the creative process. They had basically been cultivating a little nest where creative ideas could incubate. The particular circumstances of when their lightning bolt idea arrived is less important than the fact that they were constantly opening themselves to ideas through the creative process.

This opening is THE KEY to being creative. All you need to do is sit down at your desk, stand at your easel, open you’re notebook, hold your guitar. Then, start playing. Some days you will just mess around and won’t find any real direction, other days you will start to find a lead and follow it, and then still other days you will catch on fire with a new idea and start jamming on it heartily. All of this is part of the creative process, whether you’re a practiced maker or completely new at your craft. There will be days when you feel like you are wandering around in the dark. But if you make time to be creative, and you show up, and you keep showing up over and over again, the ideas will ALWAYS come. It’s just a matter of time.

I regularly forget all of this, but I was reminded of it yesterday two times—first when I sat down to write, and second when I sat down to draw. I had no ideas before either of these actions, but when I just let myself put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard some surprising ideas came out that I never would have arrived at had I waited for an idea to come first {for example the drawings at the top of this post}. This is how most of my ideas have arrived—as happy accidents, or as “what ifs?” while I’m making something else. If you trust in this, and keep rededicating yourself to the process, you will have all you ever need for an entire life of creativity.

Here are some specific pointers to help you with this process—

When you sit down:

~Throw ideas of “good” and “bad” out the window
~Let it be play
~Be open to any idea that comes
~Just begin! A drawing starts with one line. A story starts with one word.

Happy Making!

Let it be an Experiment

{A drawing from my 2012 Dots and Lines Mini Calendar available in my shop}

An old friend has been hanging around my desk recently as I work on a new writing project. He likes to whisper in my ear (OK, really he likes to shout in my ear) various abusive comments like: You Suck, This is Complete CRAP, and this work and you will never amount to ANYTHING. Or my personal favorite: How Dare you just sit down and think you can write this!

I’ve been noticing that he shows up a lot when I’m writing, especially when I’m trying to write something more “serious” (blog posts seem to be exempted). He does not however show up in the same way when I’m making visual art—I seem to be able to crank out the drawings and prints without too much of his hollering. This morning I started wondering why this is. After some contemplation, it occurred to me that the problem is not writing (I love writing), but the problem is the word “serious.” Any time I want to get “serious,” in walks Mr. You Suck.

To me, “serious” means: this must be good, and I want it to make an impact and save the world and be dynamic and wonderful and transcendent and a raving success. It means I must buckle down and really hit the mark . . . or else. Or else what? Or else I will be a complete failure and waste of a human being. Now doesn’t that sound like a wonderful place to be working from?! What fun! Sign me up!

When I’m working on visual art {or smaller bits of writing like a blog post} I have the opposite notion—I’m just playing around, and this is just one of a million different ideas I have and a million different executions (OK, maybe not a million, but you get the idea). Especially with drawing, I think of each one as an experiment—I get an idea, I execute it the best I can, and then I let it go (by either putting it out into the world, or letting it stay in my sketchbook). This is a beautiful process—it takes the pressure off and lets each work be what it is: one creative expression among many.

I’ve known for a while that this playful experimentation approach is THE KEY to sustaining a creative practice over time. It shifts the focus to process (which is really the whole point) and takes the pressure off any one piece of work as needing to be epic, which in turn frees you up to keep making. I think this is true about anything you do in life and life itself—no one day, experience, creation, piece of work is the be all and end all (even though sometimes it feels like it).

So I say to myself and to you, next time you sit down to work on your “serious” work, let it be an experiment. Do the best you can do right now and then let it go. This experiment will always lead you to another one if you let it. Have fun and let the whole thing be play.

Starting a New Creative Adventure

I have been writing poetry lately—something I haven’t done in years. I don’t know what happened, but something sparked me to start in again (writing poetry was one of my main creative actions all through college and just after).

Since it’s been several years, in a way I feel like a beginner again—experiencing more than ever what it means to get the ball rolling in a specific creative way. At first I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to sustain writing for more than a couple of days, but now I’ve been writing regularly for more than a month (still a pretty small chunk of time, but I must celebrate these small victories), and I can safely say that I’ve gotten the momentum going.

What has been so funny to me is that the same realizations are coming up for me with poetry as have come up for me around visual art. Yesterday I was sitting outside trying to drum up some start for a poem, and I had nothing, but my sense of duty/guilt to try and write a little bit every day kicked in, and I started writing randomly. While I wrote I thought to myself, “This isn’t going anywhere, it’s just going to be another boring waste of paper.” But I kept writing, and by the end of the page I was startled to find a direction for a poem there, and I took it along to the next page and wrote that poem, and felt a joyful glee that I had written a poem again!

This sort of thing keeps happening to me every day I keep writing—I fear that I won’t have anything to write, but I sit down anyway and something interesting comes up—something I never could have imagined had I just skipped writing because I didn’t feel inspired. This is pretty much the entire story of my visual artwork—open a space regularly for art and it will come. I find that the key is not only to open a space (therefore inviting in the creative ideas by allotting specific time to your creative work), but also to do it regularly, because it is only from doing something over and over and over again that you will learn how to do it and really get to benefit from being immersed in something enough to start building creative momentum.

Right now, I’m really enjoying the process and seeing where it takes me. Of all the art I’ve ever experienced, it is reading poetry that has stopped me cold and changed me the most. This is why I have loved it ever since I was a teenager and studied it in college. Why did I stop writing? I don’t really know, although poetry has been a big part of my visual art all along. But to write one good poem—one poem that cuts through everything and says the truth in a thoughtful singing way, that would be something wonderful, something worth working for. I figure that if I spend the next three years writing, I will be closer to that goal than if I don’t. And so, I keep on.

Breathe in This Day, and Thoughts on Making Art

A new word drawing!

“Breathe in This Day,” 8 x 10 inches, pen and ink, prints available in my shop

and here’s a closeup so you can more easily read the words:

A while ago I realized that out of all the art I make, the pieces that make me feel most happy and satisfied and like I really communicated something worthwhile {even months or years later} are the ones that have real, deep messages that are important to me. In the face of this realization, I decided in my mind, “I will make more of this type of art: art with words that mean something to my life.”

At the time when I thought this, I wondered, “will I be able to do that? Will I be able to sit down and decide to make this particular type of art?” I wasn’t so sure—art often comes to me in waves—I go through phases with words, phases without, phases of small books, and phases where I draw lots of triangles. While this still might be true, I have found recently that the answer to my questions above are “Yes. I can sit down and make this type of art.” I can sit down and look out my window, and look into myself and bring together something that conveys what I want my life to be about.

I sometimes think about when I first started making art again. I often felt anxious—I would make one piece of art and feel anxiety about what I would make next. Now, about four years in, if I have learned just one lesson, it is this: there will always be more art to make. Art is bottomless! It is wide and infinite, full of humor and heart, it is the biggest sea of infinity in the world: the sea of imagination and creativity. What I also know now is that the key to rolling on this sea can sometimes be very hard to remember, but it’s very simple: create an opening in yourself.

Some days I’ll be going along doing errands, and business, and other left-brained things, and I start to get anxious. I think to myself, “there’s no way I could make art right now. I have so much to do! And I just don’t feel creative! And I just can’t!” And then I remember: the whole reason I’m doing any of this (having an art shop, marketing, etc, etc) is because I love to make art, and art makes me feel happy, alive, and peaceful. So, I sit down at my desk, and I create an opening for art. I let go of all the other things for the moment and just sit quietly. I begin to feel the peace that comes with doing what I am meant to do, and sure enough there comes art, swimming back to me—a little flutter on the wind.

My New Creative Process

This is my new M.O. for making art:

1. Get out my sketchbook and pencil and place it on my desk. An open sketchbook is always a hopeful thing—it’s there just waiting for something.

2. Lie down on the floor of my office, arms open wide, and do something I have done for a while now: say in my head, out to infinity, “I am here. What will I make today?” I’ve so often gotten new ideas after saying this that I’ve become a bit superstitious—I think it might actually work!

3. I wait. I breathe. I continue repeating my little mantra to myself. I relax and try to be open.

4. I get up and sit at my desk. If some idea came, I start working on it in my sketchbook. If nothing came, I stare out the window at the trees and the birds. (I would just like to say it again: yes there are BIRDS and trees outside my office window now!). I think I have just fallen in love with this step—sitting at my desk, staring out the window, feeling the breeze on my face—this is really worth doing in its own right, never mind the art. If I’m patient and open long enough, something comes. Maybe it’s just a shred of a something, but I write it down in my sketchbook and work from there.

I feel honored and privileged to get to participate in this process on a regular basis. It’s hard for me to describe the goodness I feel when I’m doing the steps above. But when I’m doing this {opening myself up to the creative process} I know I’m in the right place doing the right thing.

The great thing is that the possibility for creating newness is always there, for me and everybody.

What I’ve learned over the past few years of making art regularly is that the main denominators for coming up with new ideas are time and open-ness (as are quite obvious from my description above).I think it can often seem like there are a short supply of new ideas, or that they only come to a select few. But I think really it’s about being open and giving yourself a little time and space to let ideas come. It need not even be a large amount of time and space (how about 10 minutes and an empty floor?).

I’m wishing you many wide open spaces of creative thought. And if you need a little help getting unstuck, give my little ritual a try. I’d love to hear how it goes!

These Are a Few of my Favorite Stamps

Have you noticed that when I start something new, I can never make just one? I think it may be a habit of the creative personality—this slightly addictive trait—the impulse to create and assemble large and {slightly} out of control collections of things.

Of course, making itty bitty rubber stamps really lends itself to this impulse—I mean isn’t stamping itself about creating multiples? I have a feeling that my stamp-making frenzy will continue, but for now, here below is a look at my favorite stamps so far.

Oh, and the reason all of my stamping is in red is because that’s the only decent stamp pad I have—something I will have to correct soon. All of the stamps are pretty darn small–under 3/4 of an inch. I’ve been having a little trouble getting really solid stamp prints because it’s quite a challenge to hold onto the tiny thin pieces. I might try getting some wood to glue to the pieces and see if that solves the problem. (see my previous post about stamps for a look at some of the stamps themselves.)

Happy making!


Hello there! My name is Nicole K. Docimo, and I am an artist and writer from the U.S.A. but currently residing in Zurich, Switzerand. Thank you for visiting my blog!

Some Thoughts

"Be thirsty for the ultimate water,
and then be ready for what will
come pouring from the spring."
~Rumi

{from "Joy at Sudden Disappointment"
translated by C. Barks.}

~This Work ~

Unless otherwise noted, all images and writings on this blog were created by me, Nicole K. Docimo aka Blue Bicicletta. If you would like to share anything you see here for inspirational purposes online, I just ask that you kindly let folks know where you found it. If you are wanting to share/reproduce any of my work in any other way, or have any questions about how you will be sharing the work in relation to copyright, please contact me directly at nkdocimo {at} gmail {dot} com. Thanks!

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