Working Without Your Dominant Hand

My earlier piece about what I need to see doctors for.

For the last two weeks that was my situation. Then my hand surgeon set me free from my splint somewhat sooner than expected. This pleases me, because I always want to be the remarkable patient: the one who heals faster, the one with the high tolerance for pain, the one with the sense of humor.

What my doctors don’t see is my depleted patience. The torture of leaving an out-of-reach itch unscratched, having to type one more one-handed email, asking myself: Must I put my still-newish creative life on hold?

Every physically limiting procedure (I’ve had a few) increases my respect for people who live with disabilities and renews my gratitude, especially when it hits me that my biggest complaint is my inability to put my hair in a pony tail.

I tried drawing with my left hand. Maybe a cool creative concept in the abstract, but certainly not in the concrete. Not in my concrete.

Plenty of constructive activities require no more than one hand, I found. Here, for every creative with two hands always at the ready but who may face limitations in the future, are ideas for using time productively. Some worked for me, and others came to me in hindsight.

  1. Lay the creative groundwork for when you are fully functional again. Make to-do lists. Conduct the research you’ve been putting off. (For me it was on frames and framing, pixels and resolution.) Be the most prepared post-op creative ever.
  2. Read for creative inspiration or practical knowledge. (I found both in Austin Kleon’s book, Show Your Work.)
  3. Think. Dream up potential projects, new themes as you go about your day. Your pace is slower. You have the gift of time to reflect on what you’re doing and allow it to inspire you.
  4. Visit museums in person or on line.
  5. Walk your neighborhood to see what you never before noticed.
  6. Haha

    Practice ambidexterity.

  7. Invent a new hairdo.
  8. Revisit your old sketches. You might find new inspiration. Or have a good laugh.


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