A few years ago, I worked my way through the Artist's Way. I found the process to be extremely helpful in getting me past my writer's block and I followed the program dilligently - except for one component. In all twelve weeks, I did the Artist's Date exactly once.
I know in my head that play time fills the soul. And I know that the repetitive motions of knitting can spark creativity and be enormously soothing. Yet I seldom set aside time just to knit unless I'm watching a movie with my kids,out on a knit date or on a road trip. And I know, too that I chose knitting as my play because I usually have a product at the end that someone can use. This makes the time easier to justify.
But human beings need to play in order to be happy. And the benefits of creative time spill over in to so many other aspects of our lives. Blondie, one of my favourite bloggers wrote in a recent post she wrote after a night of insomnia:
...I got up and went to the couch. Sitting on the footrest was the latest cross stitch project I've been working on. It hadn't been touched since sometime last week. I can't even remember when I started it? I picked it up and worked on a little flower. In no time at all, I felt my body and spirit relaxing. I realized I was holding my entire body slightly UP and in a very unusual and stiff way. I was wound up TIGHT. If you touched me, I probably would have zapped you with a long, blue, electric arc. But after a half hour of stitching, I was much more calm. Even the kittehs seemed more relaxed. Collectively, we were detoxing. And after I made some good stitching progress, I made myself go lie back down and try to sleep. Eventually, I did.
Blondie called her post "Prescription for Art." I think this is perfect. Indulging our creative needs should not be an afterthought but a prescription for mental health and happiness. As Blondie points out in her post, art is good for our bodies and our spirits. We should all make time for it. The product need not be perfect. It's the process that matters.
We can't all make great, or even good art. But perhaps this prescription applies most of all to those of us who would never call ourselves "artists." We can all seek inspiration in the world (and from art of all kinds) to make stuff and make ourselves a little happier.