Abrams Books sent me a copy of Craft A Life You Love in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and from the heart.
As someone who frequently struggles with writer’s block, I’m always looking for new ways to get those creative juices flowing. (Unless they involve eating bugs. I don’t know why they would, but there I draw the line.) So I was excited to get an early copy of Amy Tangerine’s Craft A Life You Love: Infusing Creativity, Fun and Intention Into Your Everyday. Available today, it’s the newly updated version of her 2017 book of the same name (which I hadn’t read). This one includes 28 exercises (three more than the earlier book) around making time for the things that bring you joy, embracing your weird and how to be creative every day, plus a new chapter on discovering and cultivating your creative passions. Amy is known for turning her sewing hobby into an award-winning t-shirt line and her love of scrapbooking into a full-time business, as well as her online creative workshops and YouTube videos. In Craft A Life You Love, she shares some of her personal and professional struggles and the lessons, habits and tools that have helped her overcome them. Positive (but not sickening) and practical (but not simplistic), it’s a workbook I’m really enjoying working through, and think you will too. (And there’s nothing in it about eating bugs.)
“Every day we are given the opportunity to do things, to make things, and to make things happen. Talking about dreams is great, but taking small steps toward achieving them is way better. Allow your ideas to come to fruition and don’t wait on important things. As a natural procrastinator, I have to consistently work on this. A wise mentor once told me something that has stuck with me: It’s not how many ideas you have, it’s how many ideas you make happen.” — Amy Tangerine
The book is organized into six sections:
- Crafting the soul — how spending time developing your hobbies can make you happier and more fulfilled
- Crafting the right mindset — how choosing which thoughts to focus on (it takes practice!) can help empower you to take charge of your own happiness
- Crafting the right environment — does your physical environment distract you or energize you? What about the people in your life? And why it’s important to give everything on your mind a time and a place to be dealt with
- Crafting happiness through habits — concrete things you can do regularly to cultivate happiness and your craft
- Crafting your way back — what to do when you’ve lost your creative mojo
- Crafting your passions — how to discover and nurture your creativity
Each section is a mix of personal anecdotes, advice, inspirational quotes (many hand-lettered by Amy) and questions to reflect on (with lots of space to write). And while some of the adages are familiar (i.e. great things never come from comfort zones; what we give attention grows), they’re well worth repeating.
I think what’s been most helpful to me are Amy’s tips and exercises for getting out of a rut, things like working on a creative project totally unrelated to your main work, which can allow new ideas to pop up. Instead of stepping away and trying something else, I tend to hammer away at the same thing until I “get it right.” Now I’m trying to give myself permission to take a breather, focus my energies elsewhere and have faith that the inspiration will come.
“…while it might sound counterintuitive, if you want to improve your craft, here is my advice: Spend time elsewhere. Let your mind go somewhere else. Let your craft gestate quietly in the background. Trust the the inspiration can and will show up in unexpected ways.” — Amy Tangerine
It would be interesting to work through the book with a friend and compare notes, or even spend an afternoon or two discussing some of the questions over a craft (a crafternoon!). I can see myself gifting a copy with a new sketchpad or a nubby ball of yarn and a pair of knitting needles, encouraging the recipient to revisit an old hobby or take up a new one.
How are you crafting a life you love? Do you make time for your hobbies? What creative activities fulfill you?