Keeping creative when debilitated

Chris Lane / inspiration / / 1 Comment / Like this

House in progress

For the past year and a half I have been quite busy at work building a house. I’ve worked on it nearly every day since I started and I have made great progress with help from friends and family from time to time. But it has nearly taken over my life, in what I do. I haven’t had much time to do anything in the creative arts. I certainly haven’t done anything with this blog in ages. I recently started working with a new look to the site, but again, haven’t had much time setting it up properly. That quickly changed one afternoon, while I was up on a ladder stapling housewrap to the wall. The ladder slid out from the ground and I rode it down about 16 feet and in landing I smashed my knee. I smashed it so hard I broke the kneecap in about 4 or 5 pieces. Needless to say, I won’t be working on the house again for a little while.

Broken kneecap

So, now I have a lot of sitting around to do. If you know me well, this drives me crazy. I am always busy doing something. I am always active. It pains me to be still, doing nothing, but now I am forced to do so. My wife has been after me for doing more than I ought to, even still. I can’t help it, that’s just my character. So I’ve done a lot of reading, a little Netflix watching, playing some video games on the laptop, and helping my kids with their school work on the weekdays. But even though I’m sitting around, I shouldn’t be wasting this time with pointless stuff like games and shows. There is still room to be creative and productive. Sometimes when put in a position like this, I need a reminder, and my wife is a good person to do that.

Do a warm up drawing

So, what can I do? Well, the first thing came from my son. He got out paper for everyone and we all drew pictures. Now, it’s been ages since I’ve drawn anything at all, so I am terribly rusty. But I remembered, everyone needs warm ups, regardless whether they are just learning to draw, or a professional. Of course, those warmups will look dramatically different, but a good warm up to drawing is just drawing what you see. So I took to drawing what was across the room from my vantage on the couch. It doesn’t look great, but it still flexes those creative muscles. I decided to try do a limited palette with the markers that Tristan got out and stuck with some blues and greens.

warm up drawing

Write a blog post

The second idea came from Melissa. She reminded me I have all these things I want to get to that I don’t normally have time for, like writing blog posts. Being out of practice, I had no idea what to write about. So this was her idea and it’s a great one, and certainly on point. There are certainly plenty of other people in the creative fields that get down on their luck and aren’t able to do their normal things, or at least derailed from their normalcy. This is to hopefully be inspirational for those that need a little boost, and maybe give a few examples as to what they can do in their off time.

Edit an old photo

This one is obviously more geared toward photographers, but if you are anything like me, I have a ton of backlog of photos that I either haven’t sorted, haven’t edited, or tagged, or simply purged. If I am disabled and stuck in a seat, even if I can only handle that spot for so long, and I’m unable to get out and shoot outside or in the studio, that’s time I could spend attacking that backlog.

snowy evergreen trees

Catch up on useful reading

I read a lot. But mostly I read for pleasure, not for learning. There is certainly nothing wrong with that, but if you are going to be laid out for a long period and you expect to be stuck doing not much more than reading. Try switching it up to be something that would better yourself. There are endless books in the creative fields. Here are just a few from my wishlist.

books on design

Find books to improve the craft you already pursue, or books that can alter the way you do things so they are more efficient, or just to try something new. Find books to try a totally different project once you are back on your feet. Find books that will improve your businesses, find more clients, or just find books that inspire you and keep your creative energies filled. There are just so many good books out there, it’s impossible not to find something of interest.

Take up something new

If you are stuck in one place, be it a hospital bed, sitting instead of your usual activities, or whatever, there is bound to be something you could try that you haven’t done before. Try writing a novel. If you are stuck in one place you can likely type on a keyboard. If you can’t do that because your arms are disabled, try a speech to text software.

Attempt to take up whittling or small scale carving. You could do this with something sharp like X-acto knives, or even a rotary tool like a Dremel with certain bits.

carving of anatomical heart

Or just do what limited exercise you are capable of. Work out your arms if you can’t use your legs. Work out your legs if you can’t use your arms. There are usually some sort of exercises available to you. And keep in mind, if you are usually always active, if you are suddenly sitting all day, your caloric intake will need to adjust accordingly.

There are innumerable things that a person can do while they can’t do their normal activities. Keep your mind happy by being as active as you are able, as productive as you are able, no matter your disability. I certainly will. Hopefully this was successful in inspiring someone in a similar situation to me.

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