Why Owning 24 Items of Clothing Is Good for my Creativity

Personal note: I own 24 pieces of ’regular’ clothing. (This does not include underwear, socks, or workout items.)

15 tops.
1 pair of jeans.
2 dresses.
2 pair of shorts.
1 raincoat.
2 down jackets.
1 scarf. 

Every morning I go to the closet, and my choices are pretty limited. I usually grab a pair of jeans and a sweater without even thinking.

Meals each week are pretty basic as well—homemade soup, fish and veg, salads, tacos, eggs—although I occasionally like to experiment with a new recipe to change it up every couple months.

Simplicity stimulates me.

I know not everyone will feel this way. Every day that I go with just the basics, the more content I feel personally, and the more inspired I feel creatively.

Enter: Georgia O’Keeffe. She's been inspiring me a lot lately. I’ve been reading the massive text —Becoming O’Keeffe, The Early Years— as well as a recent spread in Vogue Australia about her monastic, simplified personal style.

Photography by Alfred Stieglitz, 1918

While Georgia (to my knowledge) never spoke to her personal style and minimalist nature, I can’t help but believe this somehow impacted her creativity.

I’ve seen a preference for personal simplicity in lots of ‘successful’ creatives. Ever notice when a designer comes out after a runway show, they’re often dressed in head-to-toe black or other simple garb?

A creative life requires dedication and a focused energy that can easily be lost to fruitless activities like scrolling through endless social media feeds, trolling celebrity gossip, shopping both online or spending a whole weekend at the mall…

Not to say there is anything wrong if you want to indulge in any of those, but every time you do (I am saying this to myself, too) that is a choice.

There’s nothing wrong with loving fashion and wanting to adorn yourself. It’s all just a choice. Do you choose to use your creativity in that way, and that feels good to you and makes you happy? If so, then good on you! Seriously.

But if you’re dressing yourself in the latest trends because you really want to create,maybe you need to be honest with yourself about that.

In every moment, you can choose to consume or create.

Of course, it’s a balance—life includes both. But there are certain types of consumption that do not allow creativity to build on it.

Lately I’ve been choosing my creative practice over things like drinking wine in the evening or watching countless hours of reality TV.

These things (probably) don’t give anything back to you. They suck your creative energy away. They are creative vampires!

There are other ‘consumption’ outlets that actually give back to you, the consumer. Reading is one for me. Eating really good food. Watching a documentary. All of these are forms of ‘consumption’ that (usually) leave me feeling better than when I started.

I can FEEL the creative energy stirring up when I choose to forgo alcohol, get dressed in my daily ‘uniform’, or turn my phone off at night for a couple hours of dedicated painting time in my ‘studio’ (which is now the bathroom. I quite like it).

I minimize the number of things that require my creative energy and instead choose to spend it on actually making the stuff I’m here to make.

What can you choose today that will sustain your creativity? What will actually give back to you instead of sucking you dry?

Maybe you need to ask yourself (I know I do)…

  • Is the alcohol worth it?
  • Do you really think that new outfit will make you happy?
  • Count how many hours of TV you watched last week. What if you spent even just half of that time working on your craft?
  • When was the last time you were in complete silence — no podcasts, no music, nobody talking to you?
  • What habits do you view as ‘reward’ for a long day of hard work, that leave you feeling even more exhausted?

If you want to make stuff, you have to make hard choices sometimes. Living a creative life requires discipline and loyalty to the great inspiration living within you.

Choose creativity!

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