Live a Creative Life: 40 Lessons on How to Embrace Creativity in Your Life

There is no right or wrong way to live a Creative Life, but there are many lessons to learn on the way no matter what kind of creativity you want to infuse your life with. I’m walking that road most every day, and since I recently became 40 (gasp!) I thought I’d share a few lessons on how I have embraced creativity in the last 12 years or so.

I’m hoping that my list will help you embrace creativity in what ever form it may come, and to live a more creative life in some way or other. Maybe it will give you ideas on art or craft projects to try? Maybe you will jump up and start a blog of your own? I credit my blog for a lot of the creativity in my life. I had a lot of fun writing this list for you guys, so I hope you’ll find it useful.

Live a Creative Life - 40 LESSONS on living a Creative Life written by blogger, artist and awesome iHanna


Oh, my list just happens to be 40 bullet points long… and since I’ve lived it already I know that that it is looooong (especially on the internet), but I hope you can embrace that too. I needed the space, so I took it. Here we go.

How to Live a Creative Life

  1. You Are Already Creative (but read on to learn more…).
    You can Deny it all you want, but Everyone is Creative. Look at any kid. We’re born that way, and we can’t survive without it. But then we get fearful, stupid or we forget how to embrace creativity in our lives. It is super sad, but you can find your way back if you’ve lost it, I promise! I did just that – and I feel grateful every day. I write this blog in hope that reading it will guide you towards living a more creative life in a gentle way…
  2. Life is too short not to embrace your passions.
    So if you want to paint, get painting! Don’t make it so hard on yourself, just start making some marks and see if you enjoy it. It won’t be a masterpiece at first, but who cares?
  3. You should be proud of what you create and never belittle it.
    Creativity is a gift that you should be proud of. If you feel it’s not “good enough”, start over but don’t tell everyone “what a looser you are”. Please. You won’t become a happier person because you talk down to yourself, and nobody else will benefit either. Embracing your quirky, creative self can be hard when you start out, so just be kind to yourself.
  4. Have a notebook handy.
    Having a notebook or sketchbook handy at all times is a creative must.
  5. Use your Notebooks.
    I don’t think there is anything more depressing than a beautiful notebook with a shiny cover – that is collecting dust, unused and unloved. Loving a notebook means messing it up with your handwriting and doodles. I always say: A full notebook is a happy notebook!
  6. Write down your Ideas.
    Sometimes writing Big Ideas down feels scary, but do it anyway. Record your big (and small) ideas and projects in different lists, and update and look at them often. They are what dreams are made of.
  7. Have a notebook for everything.
    There is NO SHAME in having a stack of notebooks in your studio – if you’re using them! Keep one for lists, one for sketches, one for work, one for your bullet journaling or as your diary, one that you can glue magazine clippings in (for reference), one for receipts, one for washi tape samples… You get the idea.
  8. Also: Journal.
    I’ve kept a special diary notebook since I was 12 years old, and that is one of my (many creative) obsessions. I don’t write in my diary every day, but when it’s been to long since my last entry I feel an itch to go back, to write, to think on paper. I feel like everyone would benefit from journaling by hand, in a notebook.
  9. Keeping a diary is Cheap Therapy. So just do it.
    Make plans, make marks, make progress. Three morning pages, or a any time of the day scribbles will work. Just keep a journal, try to visit it as often as possible – and don’t ever stop writing in it.
  10. Making art inside an Art Journal is an awesome outlet for creativity.
    It’s freeing, it’s private, it’s easy and it’s just for you. Start with an altered text book and fill it with anything you can stick in there! I owe SO much to art journaling it is ridiculous.
  11. Embrace your Childhood Obsessions
    When you’re a teenager you think there is a sharp line between being a kid and a grown up, but it’s not. You can collect stickers, pretty papers and dolls as a grown up too. You can do anything now that you loved as a kid. Actually let me tell you a secret: we’re all just kids but with more responsibilities. Grown ups that remember their inner child are just happier people, period.
  12. Creating Daily is the best Habit you can ever cultivate.
    Creating daily builds up creativity as a habit, and that habit fuels so many other areas of your life that it’s amazing. If you think you don’t have time (lamest excuse ever), doodle in front of the TV or when you’re sitting on the toilet…
  13. Writing is sometimes lonely, but words can be your best companion.
    When you’re a writer words sometimes read like a book as they are formed inside your head… have you noticed? And they are jolly good company for anyone, and introverts especially. They keep you company, comfort you (and disturbs you) in the dark and are there as a constant chatter.
  14. You’ve got to take the good with the bad.
    Life doesn’t get better, it just moves on, and it seams to be okay… There is no ideal situation for being an artist or a writer, and still, you have to keep coming back to the page.
  15. If you’re not writing you are not writing.
    There is no middle ground, no short cuts, no secret door. If you write you’re a writer. If you don’t, you’re not. And the less you write, the less ideas for writing you’ll have…
  16. If you call it art then it IS art.
    What art is is subjective and can be discussed for hours, but the truth is, you get to decide for yourself. You are the boss in your own creative expression. But please, never call it nothing. It is something.
  17. The Tactile art of Hand sewing is WAY cooler than you might think.
    It is inherited from our grandmothers, but now it belongs to everyone. Weather it’s knitting, embroidery, sewing, crochet or macramé that does it for you, using your hands to make new things from string or fibers is pure happiness. It’s that tactile feeling, it gets me every time. I love it!
  18. You can be an artist without going to art school.
    I know this because that is the road I’m traveling, learning more and more as I go.

  19. Find a space to call your own
    The perks of being a grown up is that you can! And having a space dedicated to you (and your creativity) is important. You should make it a priority to have that space, weather it’s a house, a room, a nook or specific arm chair that’s just for you. Don’t let anyone take that from you! If you need to get ear plugs or headphones then do it. Make time, make space, make it happen.
  20. Doodle doodle doodle.
    Fill a page with mindless doodles, without thinking about the outcome. Best creative starter exercise ever. Everyone can do it!
  21. Save everything. Recycle if possible.
    Never throw away materias that can be used to make something else. If you need to clear out space, give it away or donate it to charity. Don’t waste it. If it’s trash, recycle it when possible. We need to be mindful of what we use, how we dispose of it and what the earth can spare right now.
  22. There is great power in making something (for) yourself.
    Build up your self-esteem, resilience and courage by sewing your own clothes, cooking your own food, growing your own herbs, knitting your own socks, making your own wall-art… It’s the amazing feeling of: I made this, ME, I, my-freeking-self!
  23. Document the good moments and savor them.
    Snap pictures with your phone, make photo albums, hang up your art on the wall, create photo books, write it down. One day you’ll be so glad you did.
  24. Make sure you’re in the picture too.
    If you’re a mom, do you think your kid will thank you for never showing up in their photo album? Please get a remote control and document your lovely bad-ass self! If you think you look tired or old, remember you’ll never be as young as you are today. And if you’re single, who else but your awesome self should be in the picture? Get a remote, or set your phone on timer. It is super fun to have a selfie project going!
  25. Age is just a number, but it’s still ticking.
    You’re not to old to try something new, to learn new things and explore the world. You are not too young either, to remember that one day we will all be dead. Take care of the time you’ve been given on earth.
  26. Don’t spend time being envious of others.
    Be happy and celebrate fellow artists. Take classes from them, study them and then try to do something with your knowledge that comes from within you. That’s how you shake envy.
  27. Be yourself.
    To be(come) yourself, you have to open your eyes and listen to the silence. You can’t always be safe and comfortable, you need to realize that it is okay to sometimes feel awkward and lost. To make ugly art. To stumble. Don’t dress your age, don’t play it safe. It’s okay to be silly and to act silly, and if someone else tell’s you to tone yourself down you tell them from me: talk to the hand.
  28. Find your own Rhythm.
    I loooove being a creative person, but I don’t create every single day. Nope, not even super iHanna. I listen to my body, I rest when I’m sick, I try to listen to the rhythm of my body and mind. It’s not perfect, but it’s a work in progress.
  29. Poetry always helps.
    If you are sad, frustrated, worried or angry – write poetry. It helps!
  30. Source out Good Tools & Materials.
    I am not a fan of consumerism, overspending or buying things you don’t need or use, but I still have to say that buying art materials and the tools of the trade is essential. Life becomes much more enjoyable when you’ve got good materials to work with.
  31. When you can, create alongside with kids.
    Kids are awesome artists already, don’t question their actions, just follow along. Their genuin creativity and happiness is contagious.
  32. When your taste changes, investigate and embrace it .
    I have noticed that I love new styles and colors, things I used to hate or shy away from. It surprises me, scares me and delights me at the same time. I try to investigate it further and embrace the changes.
  33. Collect quotes and colors rather than material items.
    Not because it’s cheaper (but it is) or smarter (but it is) but because it’s a lighter load to carry the next time you are moving to a new house.
  34. Create a Creative Project that makes you Happy.
    There are so many fun things to do, why not: Create something special every day for 100 days in a row. Join a Challenge online. Write daily in your journal. Write a book. Start a blog. Create 365 Collages in a year. Make handmade postcards. Photograph yourself. Find something pretty to share on instagram on your walkabouts. Document a week in the Life. Or maybe: Write a list of life advice for your fellow creatives.
  35. The BEST gift to yourself as a Creative Person is to join a class/workshop.
    Join a IRL class or one online, and do all the exercises! It’s so much fun to learn new things, in all areas of life. I’m a fan of both online and off-line workshops, for different reasons and I think of them as the best gifts to myself and time well spent!
  36. Find a balance.
    And when you find a balance in life that holds up for longer than a week or so, call me and tell me how to do it.
  37. The more you Create – the more Ideas you birth.
    I find this true for myself: the more collages I make, the more collage ideas I have. When I write regularly I have more to write about. When I write a long blog post, I feel like I would keep writing blog posts for ever… The flood of ideas is never ending once you start dipping your feet into the river of creativity. Just remember that when you stop making/creating/writing for a while, the ideas ebb…
  38. To get started again, do something small but do it regularly.
    If you haven’t been drawing for a few months, weeks or years (yikes!) start small by getting a sketchbook and doing a tiny sketch in it each day. Start small and build your creative muscles back up again, it’s like exercise, you need to do it often and with regular intervals to reap the benefits (or so I’ve heard).
  39. You WILL find your own style.
    It feels SO hard, like it’s unattainable, but you can find your own way of creating and being in the world. Just remember, it takes both time and effort. Effort as in: get your butt in the chair every day and create from your heart. Don’t ever stop.
  40. Embrace Your Style of Creativity
    To me it doesn’t matter what kind of creativity you find as “your thing” as long as you keep searching for it until you find it. And if you find that it is “doing it all”, just embrace that too. My own art is diverse and colorful, and it includes Art Journaling, embroidery and writing just as much as collage, watercolor and other forms of expression. I try to embrace it all, and live it every day. And that my dear fellow creatives, is all you can do.

At age 40, after blogging for 12 years (!), at least I know this: I’ve found my passion and it is creativity. I feel like I am traveling on the road that leads toward happiness. How about you my dear?

Thanks for letting me share these little nuggets of wisdom that I’ve learned or found along the way, I hope you will add your own below. What are your best creative life lessons so far?

16 Responses

  1. Hanna, thank you for this post … I’ve read through it once but am going to take my time to go over it again [there were many things in it that spoke to me!]

    Have a nice day, my friend! (Hugs)


  2. Thank you so much for taking the time to share that with us. Wonderful advice and words of encouragement! I hope you know that you are an inspiration to many people.

    • Aw, thanks Michele, I feel very grateful to be able to inspire through my words here. It’s a good feeling when you can do that.

  3. Find your tribe. Find those around you to connect to who reflect your passion(s) back to you. Find those who understand the need for fabric, paints, books, whatever excites you. A few minutes in their company, exchanging ideas and excitement, leads to hours of creativity on your own.

    Be yourself. If you want to sit in the coffee shop and drag out all your pens and paper and write/draw/doodle…do it. Who cares what others think! They probably are wishing they had the guts to do what your are doing.

    • Oh two more very good ideas added, Judy, thank you. Creating in public might be a way to find your tribe, if you combine the two. :-)

  4. Hanna, I was distracted when this came in my inbox, so I just got around to reading it in its entirety, and I just wanted to thank you so much for taking the time to do this!

    Several years ago you’d made up a list of crafts/creative projects to try and I loved that list! I printed it out for future reference and it’s still one of my favorite lists ever. Now I’ll have to print this current list out as well.

    I always enjoy your blog even when I don’t comment. Your creativity is appreciated more than you’ll ever know!

    I guess my best creative lesson thus far is to don’t be afraid to improvise! Use what you have and make your own masterpiece. I find I really enjoy making something from thrift store or garage sale finds.

  5. I am just now getting to read this, having been preoccupied with “my creative life” lately, including a wonderful DIY Postcard Swap, a 6th grade “Class Creation” art project for my son’s class, and trying to achieve my goal of doing a little something (anything!) creative every day! Thank you, again, Hanna, for sharing your wisdom with us…you are very wise for your 40 years…take it from your 51 year-old friend! I’m not going to add 11 more bullets to your list, though! The only one that pops up for me is: 41. Never be ashamed of hoarding art supplies…you will eventually use all of them!

  6. Idea #37 is absolutely true! It was such a surprise – to learn that creativity and ideas expand the more you work. Great list!!!

  7. This is one of the most inspirational posts on creativity I’ve read in a long time. The one about creating with kids really hit home for me. Some of my best projects have been with my kiddos. I love creating with them, they self-published their first book at age 5, and they help spark creativity in me. Thanks for this list…and the inspiration!

  8. Hi
    I’ve come to this blog entry via Pinterest and many years after the original post. Only took a short while to read the 40 creative support ideas and well worth the read. As a selfie phobic person I was most struck by the idea of leaving pictures for your children. My mum was a great story teller and I know my past that way. I haven’t done this for my boys and I’m always behind the camera!! Feel inspired by your writing to be in the picture more often and leave them more stories to pass on to their own families. Thank you.

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