Being Creative

I recently opened a notebook in which I’d written on January 3rd of this year, a time when I’m usually brimming with ideas for the year ahead, filled with creativity and excitement and always setting intentions. I wrote that peri-menopause seemed to have slowed my brain and my creativity and my general enthusiasm for life and that normally in January my thoughts would be filled with plans, but this time I felt blank. But then I’d forced myself to write a few positive intentions for the year ahead and one of them was this: “Keep on writing and make it mean something. Make it connect and inspire and help people feel good/heard”.

I also wrote the following intention: “To accept this moment where it feels like I’ve plateaued, knowing that if I continue writing and creating and taking care of myself, a door will reveal itself and lead me to the next chapter of my life”. So I write. Almost every day. I have notebooks filled with nonsense, stream of consciousness rubbish, ideas, regrets, disappointments, wishes, memories. The act of putting pen to paper before I’ve checked emails or social media or messages allows me to release a bunch of stuff that seems to place itself firmly on my shoulders every morning when I wake up. And at times when I feel creatively blocked, it is itself an act of creativity. And occassionaly I write here, although not as often as I’d like.

Creativity means different things to different people. For some it means dipping a brush in paint and attempting to put on canvas what they see in their mind’s eye or they feel in their heart; for others it is expressed in the meal they cook for someone they love and how they present it on the plate; for others still creativity manifests in a haircut, the perfect flick of an eyeliner, or the way they style their clothes. Creativity is simply how we as humans strive to express ourselves, how we attempt to show the world who we really are. We all just want to be seen.

Being a creative person doesn’t only mean being a fine artist or a fashion designer or a master chef. I have a friend who claims not to be creative, yet she is passionate about dogs and knows everything about all different breeds and their characteristics. To me that is creativity. The desire to learn more about a subject is itself a creative pursuit. Being passionate or just interested in something is creative.

I express my creativity through my interiors and my writing because these are the tools I’ve always naturally gravitated towards since my youth. It doesn’t mean I’m the best at either of them, but I cannot help but do them. Writing allows me to say things that I can’t always express with the spoken word, it gives me time to formulate the thoughts that buzz in my head but don’t always come out as eloquently in conversation. And interiors are just a thing I always seems to be thinking about. I’m a constant faffer at home, in part because of my job as a shoot stylist where I’m arranging things for the camera until they look their best (or more likely I became a stylist because of my love of rearranging things). Things move around a lot, not just when I’m in the middle of a renovation as I currently am, but all the time. At times this restlessness is a sign that I need to slow down. The constant busy-ness is occasionally me avoiding dealing with some painful feelings or at times it is simply procrastination. But for the most part it’s a creative release and a creative expression.

Part of the reason I wrote my latest book (aptly named) Create: Inspiring homes that value creativity before consumption, is that I wanted to encourage people to be more creative at home instead of always buying something new. Our homes are the one place where we should be able to freely express ourselves, a place for experimentation and creativity, yet so many people lack the confidence to decorate their homes to reflect their personality. My advice is always to keep experimenting, make mistakes, change things, keep going until your confidence grows and your home reflects who you are today. And as the many homeowners in the book attest, this doesn’t have to mean buying more new stuff.

There are so many books on the subject of creativity, but the two I always come back to are Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain and The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, both of which I read for the first time in my early twenties when I had my daughter at age 23 and was bursting with creativity and excitement for the future. I keep them close at hand nowadays because the excitement isn’t always there anymore and the exercises within their pages often help me find my spark once again and remember who I am and what drives me. I also find that walking helps (with the occasional burst of hill running to boost the endorphins). It might sound silly, but going for a walk always, always sparks creativity. I don’t know what the science is behind it, all I know is I take my phone only so I can make notes of all the brilliant ideas I have that I will forget the moment I get home!

Do you consider yourself creative? If so, how? And if not, do you ever wonder if you have some latent creativity inside? I’d love to know x

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  • Reply Tara Paul 17 February 2024 at 2:25 AM

    Hi Emily! I just bought your book, not even realizing that you used be my neighbor in Highland Park! (I stole Cub for a bit thinking he was a stray!) Create is really inspiring and and I love your advice to decorate slowly!! And the introduction is really thoughtful!
    Thanks for sharing your experience and insights!

    • Reply Emily Henson 19 February 2024 at 12:17 PM

      Hi Tara! What a lovely surprise to hear from you. And what are the chances of you buying my book! Thanks for your kind words. I’m so pleased you’re enjoying Create and you’re finding inspiration in its pages. I do miss that house in LA and kind of wish I’d held onto it 🙂 You’ve also reminded me to put a note on this blog because I’ve moved my writing to Substack (@Lifeunstyled) so you can find me there and on Instagram. Take care x

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