Paper 'Connection' Collection launches 10/29. Subscribe to my newsletter below for an exclusive discount!

5 ways to practice self-love during your creative practice

Once upon a time when I was an aspiring creative, I held the narrative that the creative process was all rainbows + butterflies. It was full of color and joy and relaxation time.

And then as I began to draw + paint + write, I learned that the creative process is a fucking ride. It is full of emotions and pain and discomfort. It brings up past stories and experiences that I’ve tucked deep beneath the surface.

As I get deeper into my own creative process, I’ve discovered ways to honor myself and the unconditional love I have for myself as I make stuff. Read on for five ways to be kind, loving and gentle with yourself as you dive into your creative practice.

 

1. Be aware of the stories that show up as you create

“You are not worthy.” “There are so many other things you should be doing.” “No one will like this.” “Who are you to think you can paint?” “Who are you to write a blog on creativity?” These are some of the stories that frequently come up for me.

I take frequent breaks as I make stuff to check in on these stories. I journal about the stories (the lies!) that are showing up, and I practice so much kindness to myself as I rewrite my stories as loving truths.

This is a journaling exercise I made up that really works for me. On the the left side of the page jot down stories that are showing up and on the right, jot down their opposing truth. I try to be as kind + loving to myself as I write the truths, and I notice when even more stories come up as I read the truths back to myself.

 Stories I'm telling myself right now

TRUTH

I am not worthy of making art. 

I never even went to art school and didn’t start painting until I was 28!

You, like everyone, has a story that is worth hearing, dear one.

My voice is not worthy of being heard. 

You have a gift you have been assigned, and the world would not be complete without you and your voice.

I can’t do that - it’s too risky and what if people make fun of me?

You are uniquely you, and that is magical! 7-year old Courtney is afraid of being rejected. She needs to be reminded that she is beautiful and loved because she is COURTNEY! 

 

2. Take breaks

Make tea, go for a walk, take a bath, switch laundry, work on something totally different. Come back in an hour, a week, a quarter, a year. This requires deep inner listening, which I know from experience is easy to ignore. I’ve completely destroyed paintings from ignoring my inner guide when she is telling me to make space.

Some artists I know spend years working on one piece. They revisit her when they feel called and inspired, and they leave her alone when they don’t.

Some of the best work I've done is when I've given my work space to breathe. I leave, I journal for a few days, I get out in nature. Getting into watercolor has forced me to step away to let each layer dry for hours, sometimes days at a time.

3. Breathe, baby, breathe

Whether you’re writing, painting, doodling, taking photos, or something else, let your breath guide your practice. I feel really grounded when I align my breath with my creative practice. I love to breathe in deeply as a move my brush in one direction and breathe out as I move my brush in another direction. When you notice your breaths are shallow, take a break and breathe deep into your belly (4 counts in, 5 counts out) until you feel a sense of calmness, and then decide whether it is the time to get back into your work or move into something else.

4. Honor the flow

You will not feel creative every day. Some days creativity will support you in processing your human experience; other days creativity will feel like a box that needs to be checked (hint: don't create on those days.) As women, there are times in our cycle when we are biologically wired to create, work on new projects and pursue passions and there are times when we are not. When it feels forced, honor yourself and your creative project, and make space. When you feel the flow (and trust me, you will know when it's there!), clear your calendar when possible, grab your materials and get makin'!

And... I am writing a blog right now all about aligning our creative practice with our cycles, so subscribe to my newsletter if you aren’t already to be the first to know when it is published!

5. Let shit come up + pass through you

This is by far the most important point in this list. 

If your work means something to you, and I bet if you’re reading this it does...this will elicit emotions. As I’ve been painting my cyclical being series, I’ve shed tears, I’ve felt frustrated, I’ve felt my own and other women’s traumas come up to the surface. The most loving act you can do to yourself is sit with the discomfort. If you’re anything like me, you will want to run, you will want to head straight to the fridge, binge watch netflix, you will want to do anything else besides sit with it. I encourage you to stay, to be brave and to let your emotions fuel your creative process.

 

Which bullet point resonates with you the most? What stories do you hold about creativity? I would love to hear from you about your creative practice so we can start a conversation. Comment below or shoot me a personal email!

Xo,

Courtney

Leave a comment