Article by Jenna Anderson and artwork by Cris Hogarth

This fall, I hurt my ankle. There was a sprain, there was ligament damage and there was even a small fracture. It wasn’t good. I couldn’t drive for a couple of weeks, and walking was challenging long after that. Not something I’d wish on anyone!

But, all of a sudden, I had a lot more time than I was used to having, and I wanted ways to fill it. And fill it I did, in some interesting and unexpected ways. First, my friend invited me to a Paint Nite event, which was WAY MORE FUN than I’d ever expected, and not something I thought I could even do. I mean, I’ve never tried to paint a picture, not since I was a kid. (I did try abstract painting last summer and it was pretty terrible. Who knew there’s a method to abstract art?) Somehow I wound up with this awesome picture that I’m proud to say is now hanging in my room. Don’t let anyone paint you into a corner, people! And that includes you (sometimes we are our own biggest obstacle).

Tip #1: Try something you think you’re bad at.

I also bought an acoustic guitar from a friend. The last time I played guitar with any kind of regularity was high school – and never on a guitar I owned. But I purchased it hoping that I could sort of pick up where I left off and give it a go again. It’s been an absolute blast, and my fingers are well on their way to being permanently calloused.

Tip #2: Do something you haven’t tried in years.

One evening my friend came over. We went for sushi (which I was pumped about because my ankle still didn’t allow me to drive – field trip!) and afterward she taught me how to knit. This is something I remember doing with my Grandma, and by that I mean she did it and I pretended like I knew how to make things out of yarn too. I’m very excited to be able to make items for myself now! There are lots of creative experiences that are thought of as being “for” one group or another. I’m delighted to see these arbitrary boxes slowly being expanded or demolished, but they still get in the way. Ballet isn’t “for girls,” and starting a band is not just “something teenagers do.” Knitting is now for everyone; and so is everything else. Don’t let these stupid labels get in your way!

Tip #3: Do something that’s not “supposed” to be for you, for whatever reason.

Before I got hurt, I went to a drop-in salsa class with a couple of friends. It was so much fun! It was a group class so it was social, everyone was kind and there to learn the same thing, and salsa music is just a blast. Dance has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I ain’t gettin’ any younger! And it’s a pity I didn’t go sooner because it’s a lot of fun. When my ankle is healed I will definitely be going back.

Tip #4: Do something new, because you just never know.

Of course if you’re working on something as a skill, you will need to look critically at your work – your dance steps, your art, your writing. It’ll be necessary to determine the strong and weak parts so you can improve for next time. But when you’re trying something new or just letting your creative self go is NOT THE TIME TO DO THIS. This is in caps because everyone (including, or maybe even especially, me) needs to keep it in mind. You’re not going to be brilliant the first or even the second or tenth time you try something. I desperately want to be. But guess what? I’m not, and that’s okay. Giving yourself the permission and the freedom to test the boundaries and risk failing in the process is very important. It’s impossible to reach the limits of what you can do if you don’t test those limits.

Tip #5: Don’t judge your own creativity. 

So what are you waiting for? Pick something, anything, and give it a quick search online, then figure out how to start making it happen. Don’t forget, you’ll never know all the ways you’re creative unless you give it a shot!

Jenna Anderson is a Winnipeg writer and videographer. You can find her on Twitter @reallyjenna.

Cris Hogarth is an up and coming comic book illustrator. Follow her on Twitter, @MsElectricFlame.