This is a 2011 post from my previous blog. I really wanted to include it here as well since it sums up my core feelings about the creative side that we all possess.
Creativity is very important to me. Indeed, both in my professional and personal endeavors, creativity of all kinds comes into play, be it artistic, logical, or otherwise. I find that my personal creative endeavors help me keep my emotional, physical, and spiritual centers in check, and add clarity to my life in ways that are not always immediately apparent. Although such clarity always becomes apparent at some point.
If we look at our modern life in 2011, we see a great emphasis on product, and not nearly as much emphasis on the process of getting there. We miss much that the journey has to teach us in our race to get to the destination. I firmly believe that this is a huge factor in why the arts are so often considered “frivolous” when it comes to budgets and spending. I see people reminded how a well crafted play, an energetic and graceful piece of choreography, or a stirring piece of music, all performed masterfully, can vibrate heartstrings that have lapsed into dormancy. How a choice turn of phrase in a novel or well placed word in a poem can bring a tear to the eye and make the reader take a look at their own life in a way they hadn’t contemplated. How a fascinating painting or unusual sculpture can open a window in the viewer’s imagination through which humanity can be viewed in all its imperfection. These things would seem vital to our emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and especially, physical, well being, and yet are never viewed as such. It’s as though people are moved by the creativity and artistry that they experience, and then promptly forget the impact as they move on, hurriedly, to the next “thing”.
It is little wonder then, that so many people out there long to let their creativity flow in artistic and other ways, and yet are stifled before the beautiful blooms of their imaginations can even take root. We face a deluge of apathy towards the arts and the creative process, and an epidemic of people who are frustrated for reasons they can’t quite put their finger on. In reality it is a deeply stifled desire to let their creative river flow as it was meant to, but a fear that such creative impulses are “frivolous” and “not worthwhile” in the scope of their often blindingly fast-paced lives.
I am a great fan of the work of Julia Cameron, whose own creative endeavors have led her into many different forms of expression. The corner stone of her creative works is her writing, and she is widely known for her work dealing with the creative process itself, including The Artist’s Way series. I have just finished reading a recent work of hers, The Creative Life, which is a wonderful journal of six months in Ms. Cameron’s life in 2009 New York City. It brilliantly shows how various large and small daily events interact with, and shape, her creative process and work; and how she deals with her own creative doubts and struggles by taking her creativity one day at a time.
A large focus of Ms. Cameron’s work on creativity, and particularly, unblocking creativity, is on creating just for the sake of creating. Not requiring yourself to be “in the mood”, not worrying about how the end product will turn out or who, if anyone other than you, will experience it. Not trying to control what will be created, but letting what wants to be created happen. Inspiration is not something that usually comes in advance of starting, but manifests during the creative process (something I have found to be completely true). Simply begin. Simply take pen to page, brush to canvas, clay to wheel, and inspiration will come. Indeed, I myself am working on several creative endeavors at the moment that may not see the light of day for some time, and even when they are completed may only be taken in by a few people. I did not wait for inspiration to strike before beginning. I simply started. Yes, sometimes you do get lucky and have a very clear idea of where to go with a project. But in those cases, you must also be willing to let the initial idea morph into other things and let the journey take a different direction if that is what feels right.
So why do it? Why bother? For me the answer lies in the fact that I have always had a need to express myself my imagination in many ways. I take delight in the process as much as, and often times more than, the end result. There is no lack of clarity in my mind on why I must express and create. I simply have a need to. There is no alternative. I simply must do it. It feeds and renews me and the benefits extend to all aspects of my life. As such, it is a priority for me, and I make time for it, however small the chunk of time may be. You don’t need a year of free, uninterrupted creative stupor in an isolated hideaway somewhere. An amazing amount can be done in five minutes in your own home, or waiting in line at the supermarket. Believe me.
I also do not require others to tell me that it’s alright for me to do it. I do not require a seal of approval, or a certificate that says I am now “officially” an artist or creative person. I do not require a gallery show to be scheduled in order to pick up a paint brush. I do not require a publishing contract in order to take pen to page. I do not require a recording contract in order to sing. I simply do as my imagination wishes. I am an artist, a creative individual, in my own mind at least, even if no one else considered me as such. And that is enough to justify creativity.
So what do you do? Are you waiting for validation before you can begin to create? I urge you, if you’ve harbored a desire to paint, at the very least get some paper and a paint set from the 99 cent store and play. Heck, get finger paints and have some fun. Do it when no one is home if that makes you more comfortable. Have you always wanted to play an instrument? What’s stopping you from grabbing something from a second hand store or pawn shop and messing around with it? How about writing? You don’t need a fancy journal or pen. Just some paper, a cheap ball point, and your imagination unshackled will do nicely. INDULGE yourself. Free yourself to PLAY again, as you did in your childhood. You don’t need a tonne of time. Grab 5 or 10 minutes here, half an hour there. Carry a small notepad in your pocket and jot a few lines of poetry or doodle a bit when you’re waiting for the bus or a doctor’s appointment. Just do it. And above all, HAVE FUN doing it.
That’s my 2 cents. Now I’m going back to doing it ;)