As a photographer, my creative comfort zone is taking photos. A sculptor sculpts. A painter paints. A writer writes.
We are what we do.
The more we do what we are, the more we master that particular creative skill. Which is fantastic! The mastery of our creative endeavour is what turns us into the expert who can command renumeration for the talents we’ve honed, the results of which are desirable to others. This is why the Cafinnate Academy exists.
But ultimately, regardless of the flavour of our creativity the truth is that as we master our talents and skills, we also build comfort zones around us. We become familiar with our medium, we become attached to it. We become comfortable with it.
A true master is someone who is never comfortable with their craft.
They’re continually pushing and stretching themselves. Sometimes that stretching exercise takes them not only out of their comfort zone but out of their favoured medium too. They stretch their creative comfort zone by trying their hand at other forms of crafting.
Not only does this practice give their brain a breather from their ‘business as usual’ creativity, it actually has the potential to inject new life and inspiration into it. By cross pollinating creative outlets, the creator begins mould and morph what was once familiar to them.
For example, as a portrait photographer, I often look to movies for inspiration for poses, for composition and overall feeling of imagery. A chef might be inspired by music. A choreographer might be inspired by a nature videographer’s footage.
All creativity is connected.
Stepping out of my creative comfort zone
I’ve certainly experienced this several times in my freelancer and entreprenurial journey. Every seemingly disparate creative interest I’ve had over the years (shiny object syndrome, anyone?) has come back and served me well.
Some years ago I used to build WordPress websites for clients after learning to do it for my own photography website. I used those skills to build this very website you’re reading this blog post on right this second. I also now offer video production services to clients, after having dabbled in vlogging and completing a personal 365 day video challenge back in 2018, and I use those same video production skills in the development of the masterclasses and quick win videos inside the Cafinnate Academy.
I’ve personally seen how seemingly unconnected creative hobbies or experiments have gone on to impact my overall creativity for the better.
Cameras and Sewing Machines
I have an aunt in the UK who was visiting us earlier this year. She enjoys making her own clothes, a skill she made ardent use of in her years in her local amateur dramatics club (more creative cross pollination!). While she was in town we popped into a fabric shop and I was inspired by her to buy some beautiful fabric I’d found.
I’ll be honest, the fabric sat in my cupboard for about 5 months. Part of me was daunted by the task I’d set myself. I didn’t know what I was going to make with it or how I would make it. I can recognise now that my ego didn’t want to mess it up, so it would rather not do anything at all.
Then one day I heard myself giving someone advice about an unrelated matter – “give yourself permission to experiment without attachement to the outcome.” And that landed for me!
It was time to take my own advice, and that’s exactly what I did.
I got the sewing machine out and decided that no matter what, I was doing this for the enjoyment of the activity, not the outcome.
Do it for the enjoyment of the activity, not the outcome.
Needless to say, I’m thrilled with the results!
So much so, that this sewing exercise inspired an impromptu DIY photoshoot – bringing it round again to my photography – more creative cross-pollination!
Is it time for you to step out of your creative comfort zone?
What alternative creative activity can you do today that isn’t your usual flavour of creativity?
What did you enjhoy doing as a child that you don’t do much of anymore?
If you’ve read this far down, I think you know that there’s something that your soul is aching to do, for the sheer enjoyment of it. And to keep your mind ‘happy’ and feeling ‘productive’, remember that whatever acitivity you decide to play with, the creativity enjoyment and inspiration you gain from that will come back round and benefit your main creative endeavour. Sometimes we need to step away to get a new perspective.
So let me know in the comments below. What fun, unusual, experimental creative activity are you going to give yourself permission to play with?