Last week I got a drawing tablet.
It's kind of amusing, because I later discovered I could do quite well with my finger and a touchscreen tablet, but that's not what is most important.
They key outcome is getting this drawing tablet got me being creative again.
In the business world it's easy to compartmentalize people into boxes: they do this one thing, and that's all you know them for.
Over the past several months I've been writing children's fiction for a colleague's comic series. Some people heard about this and were astonished. What, wait? Jason's a copywriter: how could he write fiction??
Truth is I've written over 50 short stories. In my high school I won an award for being most likely to succeed as a writer. I've been writing all my life.
Are You Blocking Creativity In Your Life?
Painting, though...I always knew I could do it. Picked up watercolors in my early 20s. That would be back in the 90s. When I sketch, I'm not great...my style is more a cartographer, slow and careful. I can emulate well: give me an album cover and I can draw the person on it recognizably well.
Painting people with watercolors is a mismatch. Watercolor is an unforgiving medium and it can be difficult to convey detail. You can't really layer. Putting two wet paints next to each other results in unattractive muddiness. But I didn't want to invest in oils or acrylics—watercolors is what I had handy, and so I stuck with it.
Funny thing, although I had the tools suitable for painting landscapes, I simply wasn't drawn to that subject.
At the end of 2001 I decided to stop training martial arts and begin concentrating on my political career. That decision also spelled what until now I thought was the death knell of my painting activities. I never had the time after that: setup, clean up, the effort of painting, struggling with the canvass...no thank you. Not to mention the challenge of choosing a subject. Of course, this was an illusion—I just would rather have been doing something else.
I had some great experiences leading committees of council in the City of North Vancouver, and running in two elections. That allowed me a creativity of a sort, for I was leading groups of intelligent and passionate people, mostly from the social worker field and some from business and real estate development. I learned a lot. How to initiate an idea and get support for it before you've started, especially.
Sticking To One Creativity Outlet Only Can Burn You Out
During the early to mid-2000s I continued to write. I'd crank out a story a season. Into 2006 and 2007 I found I could write "funny"; a lot of front page comedy articles on a parody site of Wikipedia are mine.
But after I moved to the US, creative expression of these types ground to a halt. I have an H.P. Lovecraft-style story that has sat in development hell, half completed, for five years. The only kind of creativity I applied was in my business. Marketing, copywriting, designing offers, creating websites.
And that, by itself, tired me out.
Creating solely in business is like using the same tool over and over and over again...and I live my business. So here I am with this one tool, I'm competent with it, and I've been using it every darn day for YEARS.
A few months back I bought some animation software. Animation, if you haven't experienced working with it, is tedious. I have a tremendous respect for animators now because it's a lot more than just drawing. I've done a couple little test projects, enough to know I can do it, but have let that sit as well.
Feeding into the animation software idea comes the drawing tablet.
I have an idea for an intro video for a domain...one of many sitting around in my "that sounds neat" stockpile.
And now I can draw the elements to go into the animation.
Reigniting Creativity In Your Life
Here's why I'm writing this post and telling you about my experience:
Getting this tablet has sparked my creativity. And not just in an artsy way—in business as well. It's permeated into my entire life. I feel reinvigorated. That's exciting!
While I remember "not having the time" to paint with watercolors, there's no excuse like that here. The tablet works immediately. There is no prep. No cleanup, either.
I've found a couple very good apps to sketch and paint with.
And I've been magically "finding" time to paint every night.
The subject I didn't use in my previous artistic life, landscapes, has come front and center.
The energy is back! The excitement is back! The creativity is back.
So I have a question for you:
What creative activity have you been ignoring, putting off, making excuses about...that you could bring back into your life?
Because I can tell you, it has a huge spillover effect.
>> Jason Kanigan is a business strategist focusing on new market development and conversion. He is currently busy fingerpainting on a touchscreen tablet, so please forgive any delays in response. <<