Thursday, October 16, 2014

NOT SERIOUSLY!


The nature of creativity is so fascinating.  I, for example, love to create – just about anything.  When I’m in a meeting with a piece of paper, I doodle.  If one of my nieces or nephews is playing with Playdoh or Legos I happily join in.  I like to paint – well, anything, really.   I love origami and have made hundreds of paper airplanes with my son (and students) over the years.  I love to cook and bake fancy food for my friends…Then there are the things I’ve thought over the years I would like to learn – to weld, for example (so I can make metal sculptures), how to cut and style hair, woodworking….they all seem interesting and full of possibility.  Oh – and I love to write, too. 

But I’m not serious about any of it.

Right now I’m mostly focused on my textile art and writing, because the reality is, one can only do so much, and I would rather be excellent at a couple of things than be constantly flitting from one thing to another even though they are all so tempting.  And excellence is elusive.  It takes lots and lots of practice.  I want my art to be as good as I can make it, and I’m willing to spend a great deal of time and energy to make it so.

But I’m not serious about it.

So why is it, if the theme of my life seems to be that I’m driven to create, that I don’t consider myself to be a serious creator?  Mostly fear, I suppose.  I don't want to be serious about it because I want it to continue to be completely joy-filled and endlessly amusing, the way it is now. I’m scared that if I take it too seriously all this incredible exhuberance and enthusiasm will go away.   

Too, I’ve rarely been able to force creativity to hit me with an idea on demand.  Instead I just let it happen when it happens, and so far, it’s been working.  I'm a seat-of-the-pants creator; I never know when inspiration is going to hit. Sometimes I’m struck by a bunch of (seemingly unrelated) ideas at once, and I have a marathon “creation” session where I wear all my colored pencils to a nub and use reams and reams of paper and sketch till my fingers ache.  Other times everything I see seems to have the kernel of an idea in it, and I walk around with a sketchbook jotting down sketches and talking to myself like a nutter.  It always seems to just occur. Except when I try to make it happen.  Then, it seems I'm completely pant-less. 

But I admit I’m a little leery of my kind of creating – what if the well runs dry?    I know there are infinite ideas out there, but what if I suddenly lose my ability to channel them?  Is it even possible to dial up an idea on demand?  

Often I’ve read about or heard writers talking about how they force themselves to write every day – whether they feel particularly inspired or not.  It’s the disciplined, serious part of the equation – they aren’t necessarily going to use everything they write, some days the river flows, some days it doesn’t.  But it forces them to at least open up to the creative muse on a daily basis and I’m guessing that just the action of sitting down to the pencil and paper (or whatever tool) can trigger a creative response often enough to keep them pretty rigorous about it.   But can it work with other types of creativity? 

It would seem so.

Recently I discovered a really cool Facebook page developed by brilliant creator Anne Sullivan called “Quilt Design a Day.”  Each day there’s a photo with all its colors separated out - a seed of inspiration.  I love it because it provides regular opportunities to create.   Naturally, not all pictures or colors are going to speak to everyone, and some days you might be too tired or distracted or busy or crabby, and nothing comes or you hate what does, but that’s okay, of course.  The goal isn’t necessarily to actually design something you want to or will make necessarily – it’s just to flex (or develop) your creative muscles.  Another really excellent benefit of this type of forum is that you get to see other people’s creative takes on the design seed, too, which of course can provide further inspiration – a creative Lallapalooza – LOVE it! It seems creativity actually feeds on itself  - the more opportunities it has to express itself, the more it creates!

What this does for me is help me realize now that one doesn’t have to sit (or wander around) waiting to be lit up by a bolt of inspiration; ideas can (and do) come in a more routine, disciplined way, too.  Yeah, they most likely will continue to come at strange and sometimes inopportune moments, too, but I don't have to be afraid to be a little more disciplined in my approach to creating - it's okay to be serious about it - it won't go away or suddenly become UN-fun if I work at it, it actually can and will develop even more - hooray!

That’s what I mean about creativity being so fascinating – not only are its possibilities endless, it can occur in literally infinite ways!  How very wonderful, exciting, lovely and of course, seriously creative.