When I welcome new Bumblebees to the hive I often say to them that the creative prompts sent with each book are just a place to start, and to give themselves permission to create and share whatever the book inspires. It can be really hard to just “be creative”, so the prompts are there to spark your ideas.
This week, I was so delighted when Big Bee subscriber Amanda Sutton shared paintings she had made in response to one of the poems in January’s book, The Girl Who Forgets How to Walk, by Kate Davis. If you follow Bumblebee on Instagram you might have seen them – they’re attracting a lot of very lovely comments!
The activities on each card aren’t step by step instructions that lead to a single outcome, they are hints, prompts, and suggestions to get your brain whirring. You can follow them to get you started – or go in a totally different direction, just like Amanda did. The idea behind Bumblebee is that you can return to the books and prompts over and over again and have a different creative response each time.
What you make on a particular day might change depending on your mood, what’s happening in the world around you at the time, or what you’re experiencing closer to home.
That’s just one of the reasons why finding small amounts of time for creativity might help stressful times feel a little easier – it’s a way to process how you feel, and to better understand yourself, even if you’re not fully aware that’s what’s going on.
On average you have about 60,000 thoughts a day – your brain is a busy place! Finding a creative a task to get absorbed in, away from computer screens and doom-scrolling through your phone, helps your brain to calm and focus. Essentially it’s a form of meditation or mindfulness.
My favourite moment of any creative process is when I realise I’ve been so busily engrossed in what I’m doing that my internal monologue has disappeared (or it’s just concentrated on what I’m making) – sometimes it’s nice to have a rest from yourself!
People often say the creative process is tortuous, that it requires bravery and perseverance – and all of these things are true; I don’t know a single artist (of any medium) that would say that creating was easy. But, my experience is that aside from getting started (sometimes very hard!) the tortuous moments come when you feel the pressure to make it “perfect”.
If you try not to be overly critical of what you’re making, and allow the creative sparks to fly, it doesn’t matter if it’s not quite the right colour or shape or turn of phrase, or if it’s not what you intended, or it’s gone a bit askew – what matters is that you’re doing it.
I know there are always a billion things to do, and life can sometimes feel overwhelming – particularly right now with so much going on that’s anxiety provoking – but finding 20 mins to read a short story or poem and have a doodle in response, might be just what you need to help you through the rest of the day.
You’ll find more on the positive benefits of creativity here. Let me know what the creative process is like for you – fun, torture, mindful or joyful? All thoughts welcome – leave a comment below.
See you next week. Happy Bumblebeeing!
Imogen at Bumblebee HQ
More creative prompts for January’s books:
Mini Bees – Aaahhh! by Guilherme Karsten
Now this is the biggest tiger in the world with no stripes
As well as blasting the stripes off a tiger, and knocking the peak off the highest mountain – what else might the unbelievably LOUD noise do? Make a list of all the different ways the noise has affected the planet – let your imagination roam from the arctic, to the Sahara to your local high street.
Busy Bees – White Fox by Chen Jiatong
The clouds grew heavier as if they’d been covered in dark blue paint, pg 19
Use this description to inspire a painting of a swirling stormy sky. Can you make the clouds look heavy by the way you layer the paint? Could you use paper, pencils, or other materials to add different textures to your painting? Look out of the window and add some inspiration from the winter sky you can see.
Big Bees – The Girl Who Forgets How to Walk by Kate Davis
Now I’m here I see / there is no path through the wood, / the path I walked was the path I made/ with my feet from Now That I’ve Come Back
Start a poem or story with the words ‘Now I’m here’. Is the ‘here’ a literal or emotional place? How have you got there, how arduous was the path? Why did you make the journey, and what will it lead to?