Creative Round Table: An interview With Emily Scott!

Hello, beautiful writers! Welcome to another installment of the Creative Round Table, a gathering of wisdom, advice, and inspirational stories from some amazing creative souls. Today, we're talking to Emily Scott about art journalling, the power of creativity, and finding ways to make room for all your passions!

Victoria: As well as being a writer, you’re also an avid artist, and your blog has some incredible resources for beginners to art journaling, including an ecourse. How did your interest in art journaling come about, and how has it evolved over time?

Emily: As much as I love writing and have relied on writing as a creative outlet for years, I felt like something was missing. When I discovered art journaling, I found that missing piece. Art journaling allows me to communicate without words (or with few words if I choose). As powerful as words can be, sometimes they’re not enough. Sometimes images, colors, and shapes are needed to fully express one’s emotions.

My favorite thing about art journaling is there aren’t any rules (yay!). And while I love art, I’m not very good at drawing or painting distinct images. Art journaling doesn’t ask this of me, though. Art journaling says I can smear paint and gesso and pastels all over the page, write the word “Whisper,” and let the completed image do the talking for me. There aren’t mistakes when we use art journaling. There isn’t a right way or wrong way to create art, and to me, that is the most beautiful thing about creativity.

Victoria: What are a few ways that someone could use art journaling to help them develop a story and/or document their writing journey?

Emily: Writers can definitely benefit from art journaling. Usually, most of the content a writer creates is made up of words. There are very few visual aspects to creating stories or blog posts. And while us writers love to, well, write, we can use a break from time to time and express ourselves in other artistic forms.

The process of writing can be explored through art journaling as well. Doing daily or weekly check-ins with ourselves about how we’re feeling about the story, where the story is taking us, and what we want to see happen next can be recorded in our art journals where we have the room to not only write, but draw, paint, and create these emotions and scenes. I’m not as diligent as I want to be with this practice, but in the past when I’ve documented my writing journey, I’ve had a safe place to create and a memory to pursue later on.

Victoria: As someone who pursues multiple creative passions, do you find they fuel each other and get along nicely, or do they ever start to clamber on top of each other, demanding your attention? How do you strike a balance?

Emily: It’s definitely a mix of both. One the one hand, I like that I have so many different creative options at my fingertips. Am I in the mood to write, paint, crochet, scrapbook, take photos, etc? If I want to work with my hands, painting or crocheting it is. If my brain is having one of those “packed” or “stuffed” feelings, I know to go to writing. And if I’m feeling crafty or if I have a batch of new photos itching to be sorted through, I lean towards scrapbooking. I like that every day is different and regardless of what zone I’m in, I have a creative passion waiting for me.

That said, I can’t do everything every day, and often a week or more will go by and I won’t have engaged at all with painting. Or I might get so immersed with painting, I don’t crochet for a month. Usually when this happens, I’ll go ahead and schedule time for a creative pursuit that’s been neglected. And by schedule, I literally do mean schedule :) I jot down in my planner what I want to do, what day, and what time. As someone who’s always on the go, if I don’t make time for my passions, it’s easy for them to fall by the wayside regardless of how much I love them. Most of the time though, I allow my creative needs to decide which artistic passions I’m going to pursue any give day.

Victoria: How does being an artist affect your ability to visualize settings and characters and scenes in your novels? Does it help or hinder?

Emily: This is one the best (and most fun) things about art. As a fantasy writer, art definitely can come out and play when I’m sketching worlds and scenes. I’m not too great at drawing realistic characters, but I can map out features like eye color, an abnormally large nose, or incredibly thick eyebrows. I enjoy sketching characters and settings before I ever start writing; it’s very much a form of brainstorming for me.

I’m not sure if being an artist affects this part of my writing process, but as I write, I do imagine what is happening. I raise my eyebrows if my character does. I’ll look left if the character does. I’ll even visualize emotions so strongly that I feel those same emotions as I’m writing. Mostly though, I think being an artist lets me play with the story. It’s easy for writers to be very serious and critical of our work, but the inner artist in me wants to have fun and make a mess. Sometimes this works in my favor. Sometimes not. It’s the adventure that’s the exciting part, though, and oh-so worth it.

Victoria: What does creativity mean to you? How does it manifest in your everyday life, beyond your writing and your art?

Emily: Not to sound dramatic, but creativity is everything to me. Creativity is what allows me to express myself. It has given me a voice when swimming through the darkness of anxiety and depression. As a child who was painfully shy, my creativity is what allowed me to move forward and grow, regardless of my apparent lack of social skills.

In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert says everyone is creative, and I absolutely believe that. We are all creative, because creativity extends beyond literal creations (e.g. writing and art): it is cooking a challenging recipe for your family’s dinner; it is choosing a college major different from what everyone in family believes you should pursue; it is choosing not to go to college at all but to pursue life as an entrepreneur; it is lying on your back watching the stars in the evening; and it is taking a different route to work just because you’re curious what you’ll find on the way. Creativity is made up of each day’s adventures and unexpected moments.

Victoria: What would your advice be to someone who wants to establish a more consistent creative routine? What should be their first step?

Emily: Start small. Don’t rush out and spend $100 on paint supplies only to find out three days later painting isn’t your thing. Work with what you have. Anyone can start writing and everyone has a pencil, pen, and paper in their home--start drawing and sketching. Recall some of your favorite creative outlets as a child. Did you love to color? Obviously, I’m partial to art journaling because of the different media you can use and experiment with while you find your artistic sweet spot. In the beginning, just play around with several different types of creativity.

As for a routine, either create a habit stack or a schedule where you practice/explore your creative outlet:

A habit stack is a series of habits. For example: eat breakfast + shower + brush teeth. If you always do these three things in the same order every day, you don’t have to think about them anymore, you just do them. Creative moments can fit inside an existing habit stack. Here’s one of mine: walk dog + do yoga + play piano + take shower. Because I always play piano after doing yoga in the mornings, I never miss a day. It’s become a habit I don’t even have to think about anymore.

Similarly, you can use a schedule to help you create a creative routine. Decide 1) what you want to do and 2) how long you want to practice it, then schedule into your calendar or set an alarm on your phone as a reminder. Treat this appointment the same way you would treat a doctor’s appointment. Show up and give creativity your time.

Victoria: On days when you're feeling drained of energy and inspiration, how do you deal with it? Do you march yourself to the blank page/canvas regardless? Do you settle in with a book and a cup of tea?

Emily: I recently experienced my first encounter with vertigo and not only did the dizziness make it difficult to create (or even want to create), but the fatigue that followed was overwhelming. I felt all my energy and inspiration had been taken from me, leaving me empty and heavy, unable to think of what to do next. What I discovered though was sometimes, a well-earned break is just what we need to get back on track. I couldn’t focus on fine details like painting or crocheting, so instead I scoured Instagram for inspiration, pausing here and there to take a screenshot. Once my head decided to play nice and allow me to create again, I had a folder on my phone stuffed full of ideas and inspiration. I didn’t have to sit around and wonder what to create; all I had to do was pick an image and go from there. It might seem counterproductive, but stepping away and working on something else or taking a break from creating can actually help us be more creative. And for times when I am just tired or drained (and not dealing with something as serious as vertigo), yes, a good book and a cup of tea work wonders :)

Victoria: In your recipe for living a creative life, what would be the top three ingredients?

Emily: 1) Listen. Listen to what you want and to what you need. If you suddenly have an urge to sign up for a ceramics class, do that, even if you’ve never shown interest in ceramics before. If you have always been a writer, but you don’t feel like writing, then don’t. That’s okay. What creative passions do you want to pursue and what creative passions do you need to pursue?

2) Make Time. If you want to create more often, then you need to make time for it. It’s easy for us to say, “Oh, I’ll find time to do X,” but really, life gets in the way. If we wait around for time to magically show up to create, then we’ll be waiting a long time. If living a creative life matters, then we need to make time for it.

3) Creative Best Friends. Even though I’m an introvert and most of my creating is done solo, I still benefit from working with like-minded creatives (like Victoria! :) Meet up for coffee, work in a studio together, or even chat via Skype once or twice a month, but talking about your creativity with another creative can spark inspiration like you have no idea.

Victoria: I love that! I always feel so inspired after chatting with you and the other wonderful creatives in my life. And now for the Bonus Round: If you could co-write a poem with any poet, living or dead, who would it be and what would you write about?

Emily: Looking at my own poetry, I’ve definitely been influenced by the modern and premodern poets, especially by their lack of conventional writing and poetry standards. “Make it new,” a term coined by T.S. Elliot, was definitely the motto of this literary era, and I find that I too like to push boundaries and experiment with my own poetry. Out of all the poets who clung to “Make it new,” Walt Whitman has probably influenced me the most, and while it would be incredible to co-write a poem with him, I would absolutely terrified!

Emily here. I’m a writer and blogger who creates content for creatives (bloggers, writers, artists, crafters, and awesome people). My belief is you are creative and you shouldn’t have to struggle to live your artistic dreams, so I create products that help you reveal your true creative awesomeness. I want you to wake up each day excited to create. I’m here to show you how to do just that so you can finally say goodbye to fear, resistance, and perfectionism for good.

[Edited October 21, 2019: Emily's website and social media links are no longer live/active, so I've removed any links in this post and will add them back in the future if I discover differently. :)]