An artist friend of mine once called it “a smoke and a look.” That’s when you step back from the piece you’ve been working on and take the time to admire it and appreciate what you have created. This isn’t the time to look for flaws, corrections or possible improvements. No, it’s the time to realize that where there was nothing, there is now something and whatever inspiration you drew from worked, you created something.

Creative projects change you forever, every single one does. They are their own little journeys providing you with experiences that combine ideas with techniques; you are a slightly different person for having taken this little trip. You might learn to work in a different medium, learn to change your mind or realize that you are better at your craft by the time you reach the end of the project.

There is a lot of pressure on us to get things right, to produce and to make money. Sometimes, we put that pressure on our creativity. Studies have shown that creativity is actually inhibited when you put a dollar goal on it, even professional artists can feel burned out, afraid to follow a hunch because they might get it “wrong”. When I talk with professional artists, I remind them to keep a little project going on the side just for themselves, just for their soul. Something that keeps the creative spark alive.

Oh yea, it comes back to soul. Creating something makes your soul happy. Don’t discount the feeling you get when you take that smoke and a look: it’s your paycheck. That feeling you get when you follow an inspiration and see it materialize is supernatural; for a second you have a tiny idea of what it is like to be a creator. And, why not, you are a creation, it’s in your DNA!

The other thing about creating something is what happens when you do it with someone. When you collaborate on a creative project you come out with a shared experience that no one else will ever completely understand, a bond results that will always be there. Working with someone on a creative project is a good test of a relationship, it takes trust, communications, patience and a willingness to bend on some principals while not sacrificing the ones crucial to the project; and being able to tell the difference.

I’ve just finished a creative project that prompted this piece, I’ve experienced everything I’ve written about here. I did a backyard makeover, tearing up a lawn and constructing a garden, a stone patio and a stone waterfall. I did it with my wife, Teresa, and the two of us learned to communicate better, trust each other’s opinion and enjoy working towards a shared goal. The project not only changed our property forever, it changed us forever too.

So: today is the day, GO MAKE SOMETHING!!

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