Creativity Dry Spell
When we think of creativity we picture an artist stroking the canvas with color, a musician playing incessantly with her instrument, almost gliding from cord to cord and tune to tune. We might think of a sculpture drench in the residue of material that has been chipped off his piece. I think of the writer, sitting in his studio or library, busy typing away wonderful and unseen worlds, chatting with mysterious characters and laughing mischievously at the wit of their conversations.
But are those images a true representation of the creative experience? Are all artists struck by genius on a moments’ notice? Is what they produce from these outbursts worth a noble prize, a full house concert at Carnegie Hall or a permanent exhibition at MoMa? Not really. Not at all.
If you have been waiting for inspiration to strike, I’m sorry to break the news to you: You’ve been wasting your time. Inspiration, “the muse” is not necessarily a myth, but is a spirit that must be called for often, a force that must be harness by doing. Yes, creatives are thinkers. We spend hours and days in contemplative activity. We observe, feel, record life and its nuances. Active contemplation is how the creative pays attention to the world around her.
The well is not dry. It could never be. There will always be an idea, a thought, a feeling, a perspective worth exploring. It is you who is not fully committed to get the water that is in there out. If the image comes and you don’t sketch it, if the idea comes and you don’t write it down, the well is filled with fresh waters from the rainfall all around you, while you spirit goes thirsty and restless.
When you think there is nothing much you can offer to the world, there is another dark force talking in your ear. The voice of fear. And the only proven way to quiet fear is through action. Creative action.
First, you must de-clutter your mind to see what lies beyond. It is hard, but it is necessary. Our modern society binds us every day to an unproductive path of intense consumerism. We have been taking in packaged and already-made “stuff” and forgotten to light our creative spark. What are we doing? what are we making? are we just consuming? We must go back to basics. We must awaken our minds with the action of creation.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we should all saw our own clothes and make our own toothpaste. But we should participate in the creation of our own lives and the growing of our own self, at the very least.
The tool and strategy I humbly suggest is creativity. Yet, creativity not as a way out of the funk but a way through it. This is similar to the idea of art as therapy and the reason way many adults are flocking back to coloring books. The urge is nothing more than a natural response to our human need to engage with life. To create.
To create as a way through an artistic-creative dry spell, really? If you are not feeling creative, how are you supposed to create? It might seem counter-intuitive. But the only way out is through. Find solace in these reassuring thoughts: You are not writing the next best seller, you are not painting the next Starry Night, you are not reinventing the wheel in any shape or form. You are practicing, you are training, you are letting your limbs loosen up, and your neurons. You are letting the water run. And eventually, you will find you are flowing along with it.
Mediate: call for the muse, go inward. Don’t be afraid of solitude and a little self-reflection.
Activate: engage with creative activity, even if you don’t feel particularly creative. Take out your brushes or pencils and doodle on the canvas or page. Take out your guitar and hum a little tune, take out your notebook or computer and write a few words about your day.
Compensate: add a new dimension to the mundane, to the ritualized everyday. Work creatively, clean and cook creatively, dress creatively, or get dressed creatively. Shatter the limits of your imagination. Through them, you’ll live at creative life. And beyond them, there is freedom.
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