Jan 23, 2018 · 4 minute read

By: Colleen Valles

I am a creative person, and like many of us, my creativity has many expressions. I’m a writer first, but also a knitter, and now, a budding photographer.

Each of these avocations comes with its own set of equipment for doing the work. For writing, I really just need my computer, but in truth, I have heaps of notebooks, numerous fountain pens, and even a set of fancy pencils, should my whim take me in that direction.

For knitting, there’s yarn, needles, yarn, stitch counters, yarn, patterns and YARN. For days.

And for my newest hobby, there could be a lot of equipment, from flashes to studio lights to a variety of camera bodies and lenses. What’s saving me now from buying all that is I just don’t have the money for it, or the space to put it all. Seriously, I live in 660 square feet with two kids, a dog and a cat. I barely have room for the camera.

So how do you keep your hobby items to a manageable level?

How do you go about practicing your creative endeavor without breaking the bank and spilling clutter into every corner of your house?

Very carefully.

Keeping your hobbies from causing clutter takes planning and patience. I know from experience that that is difficult when you dive right into something with all the excitement and enthusiasm of a novice. I also know from experience that it can be done, though you have to work at it. Here are three steps to keeping your creative tools manageable.

Wait a bit

When you’re first starting out, it can be tempting to go crazy and buy all the equipment at once.

But I implore you to have a little patience. First decide if you even enjoy the hobby. Maybe there’s an aspect of it that you don’t like, and so you won’t practice your new hobby just so you can avoid whatever that is.

Maybe you’re having a hard time finding time. Or maybe there are physical limitations that you didn’t bank on that keep you from practicing.

Waiting just a couple of weeks can help you see whether this is something you’ll even pursue.

Then wait some more

As you practice your creative pursuit, you’ll learn more about what you need and what you can make do with.

Just like having a favorite shirt that we reach for time and again, we often have favorite tools or media we like to work with. In knitting, I find myself making sweaters with the same thickness of yarn on size US 5 needles. I like that they’re not too big or too small, and I generally like the drape of the finished project.

Find what you like to use most because that’s where you’ll do most of your work. Then if you need a different tool for a special project, you can borrow it from one of your creative friends instead of buying it. You’ll save money, get to know more creative people, and enjoy your work more.

Speaking of saving money …

Set a budget to buy one item

Maybe you need a flash or studio lighting for your photography. Perhaps you want to paint on an extra-large canvas.

Whatever your creative hobby is, there’s bound to be something you’ll want or need in order to make the art that you want. Regardless of price, plan ahead for it.

Set up a line in your budget for a specific item that you want to save up and buy. For me, it’s a backpack to carry around my new camera, since I’m keeping it in the box right now and carrying that around with me. No, it’s not elegant at all.

It’s better to make the line item specific because it’s more motivating. Each week or month that you put money toward it, you get that much closer to getting the tool you need to make your art that will change the world.

If you just leave it as a generic “save for art” category, then you’re more likely to blow it on something that you don’t really need or won’t really use. Keep focused on one item, and you’ll have what you need to get the job done.

That’s really what we’re after in the end. We want to make our art to change the world, not to clutter up our houses and make it harder to create. Just a little bit of patience and paying attention can get us there.


Image: Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Colleen Valles
I'm Colleen, a writer, mother, knitter, pet mama and tiny house enthusiast who truly believes that everybody should slow down and simplify to make room for the things that are most important in their lives. I'm on a journey to do just that, to be able to spend more time with family and friends, riding my bike and working in the garden. Sign up to get awesome content right in your inbox, or follow me on social media.