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Finding your creativity by embracing your inner seven year old

with Sketchy Muma

 

For creative small businesses, figuring out your personal style and finding your creativity and what works for you, can become the ultimate blocker – both for those who dream of starting something and those in business who’ve lost their way. The white noise of trends and briefs to create the work that others want, can leave us with little time or confidence to make the work that is truly us.

Anna Lewis, aka Sketchy Muma, illustrates and writes such honest, beautiful observations of motherhood and everyday life, and has been on quite the journey to get to where she is today, so we thought – who better to chat to about this!

After doing pretty much every job under the sun, from painter and decorator to bank receptionist to teacher, Anna finally found herself doing what she truly loved through a serendipitous series of events. Throughout all of the jobs she tried, the golden thread that remained from childhood was a love of stationery and sketching. After having her daughter and going through her husband’s cancer diagnosis and treatment, she realised “life is too short to be putting more effort in our plan B than our plan A” so she took the leap…

After leaving London and a myriad of unfulfilling jobs behind, Anna returned to her seaside home in Cornwall, and began teaching art at a local college. But, realising she was getting a bit too invested in the student’s projects and almost taking them on as her own, she knew she still hadn’t found her calling and looked back on her zig-zagged life to help guide her way.

‘I was just getting more and more demoralised because I thought I’m just failing at everything and the time’s ticking away.’ It was her husband who then said to her “why don’t you just start drawing again, because that’s what you love.” 

‘I think when you don’t really know where you’re going or what you want to do, I always say go back to when you were seven. I have a picture I did when I was seven that I keep in my hut. And now when I get asked to do collaborations or some work I look at that picture and think, would seven-year old me be excited by this?’

It didn’t happen overnight, but once she returned to the thing that she had always loved, and allowed herself to create work that felt honest and true to her, Sketchy Muma was born and she accidentally started her dream business. 

‘I think when you don’t really know where you’re going or what you want to do, I always say go back to when you were seven. I have a picture I did when I was seven that I keep in my hut. And now when I get asked to do collaborations or some work I look at that picture and think, would seven-year old me be excited by this?’

What would seven-year old you get excited about? It might not be exactly right, but in that innocence and unlimited imagination, you’ll likely find a seed of an idea that is truly you – and that is the hardest part. When we’re surrounded by constant visual stimuli and ‘inspiration’, knowing what is really us can be hard to see, or even accept, if it doesn’t feel current or mainstream. ‘When you’re trying to find your style, it’s so easy to follow what’s on trend but you just need to find what you’re passionate about. Whether it’s animals or whatever, forget all the noise and clutter around you and think who am I? What would I really love? What do I want to draw? Instagram is amazing but it’s distracting. When you’re still and quiet, that’s when you find your “honest.”‘

Anna talks about the ‘middle bit’ of yourself. The ageless part of you that houses your passion, your creative core – your uniqueness. ‘Stay aligned with the middle bit. It has nothing to do with chronological time. It’s a totally different department. It’s time-less. Keep drawing your pictures because if they matter to you, they are sure to matter to someone else too. We are, after all, just seeking connection and a sense of belonging.’

And if you feel like nothing is going right, that you’re on the wrong path or keep going in circles, remember this; ‘Every human has the capacity to regenerate, whatever your failures are. You can regenerate. I have experienced devastating loss in my life, that almost destroyed me. There is a place though, between the almost and the total destruction, where another thing exists. If you have the courage to hold on. Okay it’s a tiny whisper at first, but it gets stronger. It’s your life force, your spirit, your soul saying I’m willing to regenerate. I’m willing to heal. This life is worth living. I’m ready to go again.’

‘Stay aligned with the middle bit. It has nothing to do with chronological time. It’s a totally different department. It’s time-less. Keep drawing your pictures because if they matter to you, they are sure to matter to someone else too. We are, after all, just seeking connection and a sense of belonging.’

Whether you’re lost in the thick of trying to find your passion, or have found your calling but creativity eludes you, don’t lose hope. Simply seeking these parts of yourself will help you get there. Remove distractions and go back to your roots – whether that’s seven, 17 or 27 year old you, identify a time when you were purely in touch with your creativity and wildest dreams and ask if your then-self would be excited by where you are now. If the answer is no, keep trying until it’s a yes!

Key takeaways:

1. Keep searching for your passion: It might take a while but you can learn from the things you don’t love, to help you find what you do.

2. Turn off distractions: When you’re overwhelmed by inspiration and stimuli, remove all distractions, that’s where you’ll find your honest.

3. Keep going: You can always regenerate, if you just hold on.

Hear more from Anna

In this searingly honest podcast, hear more about Anna’s journey of struggling to find her passion. It’s a must listen for those dreaming of starting or those feeling a bit lost along the path.

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