Back to school has always been one of my favourite times of the year.
As a kid, it meant that it was time to go back to school—I know, strange, right? Say what you will, though, I love school and always have.
Now that I’m a parent, I’m starting to hear another reason to enjoy back to school time, which is that our kids are going back to school and, all of a sudden, all those demands on your time and sanity are gone.
I only have a two-year-old, but it won’t be long before I’m doing that very same happy parent dance at the end of summer.
For those who are doing the happy parent dance, I’m a little jealous.
Now that your kids aren’t hanging around with constant complaints of hunger and boredom, you’re free to create and follow any artist whim that may strike you.
Falling back into a routine of creating can be tough, though.
Art has a tendency to be a habitual thing surrounded by a series of rituals that can be required to make it happen — maybe you’re only used to doing it at noon, after you’ve had a cup of tea and watched the midday news or something like that.
Getting back into that groove can be tricky, but not impossible.
One of the things that I’ve found really helps with that is issuing yourself a little bit of an artist challenge.
These challenges are a great way to shake the dust off the ol’ creative half of the brain and often lead to a wonderfully productive spell where creation almost becomes effortless.
If you’re in such a situation and you’re looking for a challenge of some sort to try out, I’ve got a few suggestions for you.
For the writers out there, set an easy goal, like I did when I spent one year writing a short story a month, which isn’t a lot by any means, but it was just enough to feel like I’m spending my time wisely and, by the end of that time, I had managed a dozen okay stories with a lot of leftover ideas that I’m still tinkering around with.
If you’re an artist, try sitting in front of your window and sketching or painting the first thing that really catches your eye. It doesn’t have to be anything too complicated.
The point of this is more to ease into things, rather than suddenly attempting to paint the Mona Lisa. A quick sketch of a car, house, tree, bird or mountain is a great start.
Musicians can take the time to learn one song a week, or a day if you’re feeling productive.
Again, nothing complicated, just enough to get you back into that space of being artistic.
Odds are, the first few attempts are going to be painful. If you don’t leave it to the last minute, you’ll hate the results. That’s normal.
As you get further into your challenge you’ll notice that it stops being work and starts being fun. That’s when you’ll know that you’re on the right track with this.
Good luck out there and happy creating.
Douglas Paton is a Summerland writer and musician. If you know of a local arts and culture event, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.