The Creative Person’s Dilemma: Too Much Stuff

In a discussion last night with a bunch of creative women, I was fascinated to hear about the topic of “stuff”.  In our town we have a wonderful store called, The Art Asylum.  The Art Asylum is filled with hand-me-downs and make-me-ups for the visual artist.  People donate items that might appeal to artists and the Art Asylum kindly stocks it and resells it at a reasonable price.  (A dollar goes a long way here.)

The first time I went there, I could feel my heart beat faster.  The possibilities to make something out of something else were everywhere.  Each of the women in my group described a similar feeling.  One woman asked, “Ok, how many cigar boxes did you leave with?”  She raised her own hand and said with a big grin, “NINE!”


Creative dilemma: Good Stuff Vs. Too Much Good StuffArtists love stuff.  We have treasures we love to take out and pet.  I have silk fabrics I collected from the leftovers at the design firm where I worked and sometimes I can spend a pleasant afternoon looking at them and thinking of ways to use them.  Usually that is satisfying enough and they go back to their storage space. (A closet where the door closes with an effort)

Even though most of these women admit to a bit of hoarding the good stuff, they all voiced a desire to more easily let go of more of the stuff they did not love.  One woman told the story of selling many of her possessions so she could travel and live in another country.  We listened to her story with rapt attention.  I could see the hero worship around the table.

To accomplish her Herculean task of becoming mobile, she enlisted a Feng Shui expert who happened to be a close friend and together they painstakingly went through the decision making process of “do you love it?” or “can it go?”

I had a meeting with a woman earlier in the day and she expressed dismay about creating because she wants to leave less “stuff” in the world.  She has reached a point in her life where she enjoys the feeling of being cleansed. Bringing more stuff into the world is incongruent with that feeling of being weighed down with things.

I listened to a speaker mention that her daughter got a Kindle for Christmas.  She says she had 324 books in the device.  I was thinking as she said that that I have that many in my living room.  Later in our group, one woman described when she tried to get rid of her beloved books she stored the boxes in her car trunk for a long time before they could finally go to their new home.

The universe is undoubtedly speaking through these women to me.  


This is not my stuff. I don't have a big enough wide angle lens.

Here are three things I plan to do that may trigger you to do the same when it comes to cleaning out some of the “stuff” you no longer love.

Creativity Energizer Break:  

  • Set a timer.   Commit to doing this only for 15 minutes if the job seems overwhelming.  If you feel inspired, set the timer for another 15 minutes, but don’t use this technique to badger yourself into doing more than you are able.  Your goal here is to build the muscle that helps you get rid of useless things you no longer love.  Success builds success.
  • Pretend you are doing this for someone else.  This can help you be a bit more objective.  Studies show that we can more easily see the solutions to someone else’s problem than our own.   How would you help a friend out of this dilemma?  
  • Begin small.  What about the pens stuck in the cup with the broken handle on your desk?  Throw away the ones that no longer write.  Get rid of the dried up paint.  If you have duplicates of things, donate the ones you won’t use.

Letting go of stuff can be emotional and the thought paralyzing.  Getting professional help or the help of a friend can help make the process less so.  

Have a Creative Day,

Hugs, Diana