Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Adult Colouring - Maybe it IS for Me (Part 2)

Okay – so after all that stress, I gave the colouring ‘thing’ a new start (see 'Adult Colouring - Maybe It's Not For Me - Part 1). I was drug-free (Valium was making me too dopey), caffeine-free (too jumpy), and I had plowed through a few self-help books renewing my self-confidence with positive self-talk. I could do this! So the night after my pencil sharpening debacle (see previous blog, Stress-Free Colouring: Part 1) - and yes, I had to wait a WHOLE day to start colouring in earnest - I got busy.

The reading glasses were on, everything was positioned ‘just so,’ I was relaxed and calm and you know what……?

It wasn’t so bad after all.

I had previously flipped through Johanna Basford’s book, ‘Enchanted Forest,’ and found a not-too-complicated design, something not too intricate, and something not too....busy. I told myself this was for no one’s eyes but mine – I did NOT have to show anyone. I wasn’t striving to be displayed in an art museum (my coloured piece, not ME), and I wasn’t being graded. No one was looking over my shoulder telling me what was right or wrong, and if I wanted I could colour in wax crayon (a true artiste can use any medium to create a work of art, but an artiste I am not, so I stuck to half-used pencil crayons). I could do what wanted, how I wanted, and at my own pace.

And as I worked, focusing on one bit – one leaf, as was in the particular design – at a time, I got into a rhythm. I didn’t over-think what right colours were to use, I didn’t second-guess my choices (okay, maybe I sometimes did – but heck, that’s what erasers are for!), and I concentrated on just enjoying it. I found it relaxing, calming, meditative and...addictive.
I couldn’t stop.

But as I coloured, the clock ticking well past my bed-time – ‘Just one more section, MOM’ (um, that was ME) – my mind started to wander.

As I said in my previous post I had been previously been in a creative slump: the whirlwind of this thing we call LIFE was nudging its way into my creativity and threatening to knock it on it’s you-know-what. I was getting antsy: nothing was working in my writing projects, or anything else I was doing. I was cranky, whiney, bitchy, cranky, and antsy – all at once.
It was not pretty.

Hence, the colouring thing.

And as I progressed on that first real colouring night I didn’t completely ignore my family around me: I didn’t. But as I coloured, my mind started to wander. With conversations around me and the TV on in the background I would pick up bits and pieces of this-and-that and....I would get ideas.

For my creative writing.

Out of nowhere would pop a great name for a book title, a concept for my novel-in-progress, or a great name for a character. I had been concentrating on shading an ivy leaf in the design with Forest Green, and my mind was free of everything else. I wasn’t trying to come up with writing stuff – it just happened.

I refused to make notes in my too-fancy colouring book. So on a random piece of paper on the end-table beside me (it was article on tennis elbow common to archers – go figure) I would jot down my writing ideas in Taupe, Raspberry, or Peacock Blue. The tennis/archery elbow article became a rainbow of pencil crayon test scribbles intertwined with all-too important writer’s idea/notes.

And I kept going.

And coloured some more.

And I didn’t cry if I went outside the lines.

And I kept the eraser handy.

And I kept jotting ideas.

And when my arm got too sore (I have to preserve my writers/archery arm, you see), and my neck got too sore (I was starting to nod, even WHILE doing something I loved), I reluctantly put everything away.

And realized one thing I had forgotten to remember: creativity begets creativity.
One thing I have always known and had often preached is when in a creative slump, go do something ELSE entirely different. Knit, sew, write, paint, draw, bead – anything. Renowned creatives (think Julia Cameron, ‘The Artist’s Way’) have for eons taught, written about, and preached about creativity fostering creativity. And as an aside, writers have for eons wailed, “Why do I get my best ideas while driving/showering/mowing the lawn?” Well, as far as colouring goes, not only is doing something else creative fostering creativity, but doing something repetitive relaxed me enough to allow something else other than life’s little hiccups to come to the forefront of my mind.


That is some heavy stuff.

(For a more detailed, educated, analysis of creativity, check out Julia Cameron’s book, ‘The Artist’s Way’ and visit her blog at Julia Cameron Live.

So now when I colour I keep a notebook beside me (duh, isn’t that what ALL writers are supposed to do?), focus on staying un-stressed (duh, isn’t that what colouring is SUPPOSED to do?), and just colour....

And if they ever have a colouring contest for a 40-plus age group, I won’t be entering.

I won’t be able to handle the stress.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Ooh, you should enter a 40-plus colouring contest--I love those! Very beautiful! It is so cool how one type of creativity opens the door for another. Can't wait to get my hands on those colouring books!

    1. And you know, Ros - shortly after I posted this, I saw an ad for a colouring contest for adults - truly. I won't be entering - I wouldn't be able to handle the pressure. Can't wait for you to get those books, too! Thanks for reading! Lisa

  2. Very, very impressive. I've always admired authors who head to their looms, or bags of quilt pieces, or stashes of knitting. I definitely am out of my league in those areas.
    Colouring? Hmm, never thought of that. Maybe I'll give it a whirl!

    1. Colouring truly IS for anyone, Jodie. I can't draw, but colouring doesn't need an artiste's hand. If anything it takes one back to those early years when life truly was much simpler :) Thanks for reading! Lisa

  3. That's like paint by number that my grandma used to do. Except she wasn't a writer...hmmm. Seriously, that's great I didn't know such books existed.

    1. You MUST go and check them out, Ryshia. What a way to relax (if you don't get too stressed out, that is). Thanks for stopping by! Lisa