Going on a mandala Play Adventure was rewarding in so many ways. I got to introduce more play and fun into my day. I got to express myself creatively. I learnt more about the creative process and what worked for me. But the biggest takeaway was learning about the importance of developing a creative habit or practice: doing something creative on a regular basis and making it a normal part of my everyday life.
By creative habit, I mean that you are spending time on a specific creative project (like collating a photo book, colouring in a colouring book, or knitting a baby rug). It can also include what’s known as a creative practice, where you are developing a particular craft or skill over time, for example short story writing, watercolour painting, or hand carving wooden chess pieces.
So the 30 day mandala Play Adventure has come to an end. It has been challenging but it was definitely worth it. It’s been so rewarding, and I had so much fun! And I think that keeping a playful mindset was definitely a contributing factor.
At the start I wasn’t quite sure that I’d be able to colour the same mandala colouring page in 30 different ways. But I dived in to see where the adventure would take me. I ended up finishing with so many ideas still left inside of me. Who knows? I might have been able to create another 30 mandalas, or even more?
This unexpected flow of ideas has got me thinking about how we sometimes impose limits on our creativity through scarcity thinking. We can falsely hold onto our ideas, worried that if we use them (or share them) that there’ll be nothing left.
But our first ideas might not even be the best ones. In InGenius, Tina Seelig writes that people often fall into the trap of going with the first solution they find, rather than taking the time to work a little harder to come up with a more innovative response. (She refers to Tim Hurson’s ‘3rd third’ concept from Think Better to explain this further.) It’s as if our ideas come in waves or sets. The first set of ideas are pretty obvious (and if you want a quick fix then this might be fine). However, if you dig a bit deeper then you get a more interesting set of ideas. As you continue to push the boundaries and test the limits of your assumptions and what’s possible, then you’ll get progressively more innovative sets or waves of ideas (which may result in a more effective and/or far-reaching solution). For this reason, Seelig asks participants in brainstorming sessions to share their worst ideas up front. This way participants turn off their judgment and open their minds to lots more possibilities than if they only shared their initial, and most likely to be obvious, response to the issue.
You can see how this concept of idea waves plays out over the 30 days of my Mandala Play Adventure. For instance, I couldn’t have created the 3D lotus mandala from Day 12 on the first day.
As I wrote in my previous blog about inspiration, our ideas are not created in isolation from one another. So I prefer to think that by using or creating something from our one idea that we plant a seed for another idea to follow.
In the last 9 days of the Play Adventure I started to wonder if I would run out of good ideas. I was worried that I mightn’t be able to produce interesting and unique designs. So it got me thinking about the part that inspiration plays in creating new ideas.
We commonly view inspiration as that light bulb ‘aha’ moment where in a moment of clarity we come up with the solution out of the blue. But that’s not totally true. Our ideas are never formed in isolation to anything else (although it may often seem like that).
Our brains are pattern-seeking machines, looking to make sense of any new information we receive through our experience and senses, by forming connections and associations with what we already know. Continue reading →
Here we are at Week 3 of my mandala play adventure!
After having such an experimental and rewarding time in Week 2, I began to face some creative blocks in this week. I was starting to feel scared that I wasn’t going to be as innovative or as exciting as I was the previous week.
The big insight that I came across this week related to facing my creative fears, taking risks and allowing myself to be vulnerable.
When I started this play adventure, the reason that I decided to post my completed image on Facebook was to create some form of accountability for myself. I really wanted to make sure that I would create a new mandala each day. And it definitely worked as a motivator for me, especially when I was feeling less than enthused, or had left it as the last thing on my ‘to do’ list for the day. (Luckily I always ended up enjoying it once I started.) So it was a positive, knowing that there were people that would see what I had created at the end of the day.
But, it was also scary to think that there were going to be people who would see what I’d created at the end of the day. What if the mandala isn’t any good? What if people don’t like it? What if it gets boring? What if people dislike my mandalas so much that they ‘de-friend’ me? and so it goes… Continue reading →