Monday, September 30, 2013

"The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."--Sylvia Plath

Boy, that's for sure!  Finding your way around your inner critic can be an arduous journey all by itself. Combine that with being concerned about what "they" might say, and you've got a one-two punch that can K.O. any creative notion.
How do you get beyond self-doubt and go for your dream?
As yourself these question:
  1. Who are you? 
  2. Who do you want to be? 
  3. Are the two different?  
  4. If so, then identify what  the differences are between the two?  
  5. How can you narrow the gap between who you are and who you want to be?
I bet your answers to questions 4 and 5 have something to do with courage.
It takes courage to overcome self doubt and fear of criticism, but that's what it takes to be a hero.  If you want to be a hero in your own life, have the courage to live the life your soul wants you to live.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

"Don't cancel the process of creativity too early; let it flow."-- Ross Lovegrove

I think the most creative people I know are the ones that trust their gut.  They have an idea and it takes hold of them--no second thoughts nor what-ifs-- and it sweeps them inexorably forward into production.
They can't help themselves. They can do no other than write that book, make that sculpture, film that movie, communicate that idea in whatever medium expresses it the best.
In short, they trust themselves, and, most importantly they trust the process.  They know that the end result is not the most important thing. What's important is what they stumble upon along the way.
Perhaps their idea will be their masterpiece, but it might not.  It might be just one of many important stepping stones along the way, enhancing their growth as creative beings.
In either case, the process is more important than the product; and the uncertainty of the end result is neither here nor there. What is important is the freedom and expansiveness they feel as they ride their idea like a whitewater raft on the roiling river of life.

Friday, September 27, 2013

"It is instructive, for instance, to trace the computer industry's decline in vision, idealism, creativity, romance and sheer fun as it becomes more and more important and prosperous."-- Robert Shea

Maybe Bob is right when it comes to an industry, but people tend to take comments like this personally. They get in the way of their own prosperity when they believe that success will enforce a "decline in vision, idealism, romance, creativity, and sheer fun."
When we decide that our prosperity will limit any of these things, we start to associate success with the diminishment of the very things that brought us our success in the first place.
I'm not saying that this never happens, I'm just saying that it shouldn't.  It implies that the goal of our creativity was success, and when we reach our goal we become corrupt and no longer can function creatively.
I think that creativity is it's own reward, and a little thing like success won't stop our desire to keep creating.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Problems are hidden opportunities, and constraints can actually boost creativity."-- Martin Villeneuve

Once again, Martin gives us a restatement of the old saw: "necessity is the mother of invention", but it's also a fresh new way to look at tackling problems.
Problems are often addressed with an eye to "solving" them.  Perhaps finding a way of working with them might be a fruitful approach. After all, the problem itself might be life's way of pointing you in a different direction.
A more creative approach might be to ask the problem what it's trying to tell you.  That might shed some light on your dilemma--and, who knows--the answer you receive just might change your life.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"I spend a lot of time upside down. It increases the blood flow to the brain, so it really helps your creativity."--Daphne Guinness

This is actually very good advice.  I'm not sure if increased blood flow to the brain actually helps creativity, but seeing the world in a whole new way can be the result of turning yourself upside.
Getting a different perspective on any concept or idea can be ideal in any creative venture.  Redefine  your problem.  State what it is and use a thesaurus or dictionary (I'm not kidding) to find different definitions of familiar words or phrases.  It's a great way to introduce fresh new thoughts towards an original answer.
For a visual work, reframing an image-- seeing it in pieces instead of as a whole--can bring a different energy to the final concept, creating new energy where none existed before.
You can even turn your work over if you'd rather remain upright.  Do it, and you'll often find brilliant new pathways towards your creative goals.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

“When you make music or write or create, it's really your job to have mind-blowigang, irresponsible, condomless sex with whatever idea it is you're writing about at the time. ” ― Lady Ga

Ah, Lady Gaga!  Now that's a women who defines the word "job" as an invitation to all-out fun.
Don't we all breathe a sigh of longing and relief at La Gaga's words, and in our heart of hearts feel that someone has told us a huge lie--and that lie is that our survival depends upon our being bored to tears for (at least) 40 hours of the average work week, and too tired to do anything else the rest of the time?
Isn't that why we love and hate artists?  We both admire and are jealous of their freedom, so we take the arts out of school, we cut back on arts funding, and we find ways to denigrate and belittle creative types.
We admire their spirit but pay (most of them) nothing for their labors of passion and love.
We also wish we had the courage to be artists, for Lady Gaga reminds us why many of us decide to live the creative life: we're working hard to have mind-blowing, irresponsible,condomless sex" with whatever idea we're working with at the time.
You can't do that on your average nine-to-five

Monday, September 23, 2013

"There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period."--Brene Brown

Why are we so afraid to fail?  Are we worried that we'll be ostracized by people whose opinions we care about? Are we afraid we'll be seen as losers or appear unattractive to those we wish to impress?  Are we afraid we'll lose that job, lose that lover, lose our lives, or, worst of all, disappoint our parents?
Why?  Why aren't we more fearful of losing our souls to our fear, of not becoming the excited, elated, creative people we are meant to be?
Why do we hide our light, when that light could be the very thing needed to guide others to their own true selves?
Come out of hiding! We need your authentic self, and if it takes a few failures before that emerges, so be it!
Fail spectacularly.  It's the one and only road to your true and uniquely creative self.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

"Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it."--Dee Hock

More and more I'm realizing how much creativity depends upon freedom of thought.
When your mind is cluttered with shoulds, how to's, what mama said, what your friends and co-workers might say, and what your inner dictator says, you can't let your mind run free without it stumbling over a dusty idea or three.
And so much of what fills our heads are not just roadblocks to creativity, they're messing up your happy life, so get rid of all the thoughts that don't sustain and fulfill you, and you'll find plenty of room in your mental studio to work your creative magic!


Saturday, September 21, 2013

"An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail."--Edwin Land

Fear--and laziness--are the two things that get in the way of our progress.
Fear is the big one, and we minimize the fact of our fearfulness with excuses like "too lazy", "too busy" or "too tired".
If those excuses are not enough to staunch our fear, we start to minimize ourselves with songs of self-loathing like "not good enough" or "not smart enough" or "just not creative".
We'll tell ourselves anything so as to not feel the fear.
And how can we avoid feeling afraid?  Our culture teaches us that life is hard and dangerous and fear is the smart response to it--but we know deep in our hearts there's a lie embedded in that construct so we're, rightly, ashamed of our fear.
How can we get over being afraid?
The only way to show ourselves that there truly is nothing to be afraid of is to do that thing you're afraid to do--within reason.  No diving off cliffs or getting involved in chicken races, mind you, but challenges at work, in relationships, or in creative ventures are life-or-death only in terms of the ego.
You'll know if you're being run by your ego.  You'll feel afraid.
How can you free yourself from your fearful ego?  Be creative, in thought, word, and deed.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

"Creativity is just connecting things."--Steve Jobs

Creativity is not "just connecting things".  It's not like joining together boxcars behind an engine so a train can run down the same old track, or putting together a jigsaw puzzle to form a predictable, pretty picture.
No.  Creative thinking takes you off the beaten track, and it can be anything but pretty.
Creative thinkers are cutting edge, and those on the cutting edge are often thought of as weird loners, edgy rabble rousers, or subversives.  They connect the dots in unexpected ways, thinking through the cliches to come up with a new and exciting concepts, ones that can shake us up, mess with our life, and possibly chang our entire cultural framework.
Creative thinking takes courage, so be brave and think big!
We need your creativity.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people” – Leo Burnett

If you want to be a creative thinker, you must to be curious about EVERYTHING, even all the rules, laws, and ideas that you've been told are true.
Question it all.
Run any idea that doesn't feel "quite right" by what you've experienced and see if it adds up. If it doesn't resonate, if it doesn't make you feel good, then it's not the truth no matter how many people say it is.
A creative thinker approaches life with fresh eyes and an open mind and heart.  For them, life is a laboratory and they are the scientists. They question, experiment, and come to their own unique understanding about everything that intersects their life. They don't accept anything at face value
How do they know when they've found the truth?
That's easy.  When they hear it, it sets them free.

Monday, September 16, 2013

"I think that everything is part of creativity - the more you create, the more you have ideas...". Melanie Laurent

I've been talking about how creativity is natural to all of us, and I believe it is.  There is one thing to keep in mind, though, and that is if you don't use it, you lose it.
It's like walking.  If you decide not to walk for a while, your muscles atrophy and you lose the ability to perambulate.
Creative thinking also needs to be exercised.
Maybe that's why people see themselves as not creative.  They haven't used the creative muscle since they became adults.  It's not gone, I promise you.  All you have to do is start to dream again and your mind and heart will breath a sign of relief as you begin to live out your creative promise.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

"I'm pretty lazy when it comes to creativity. I just want it to be easy and fun."-- Reggie Watts

Ah, people are always making creativity hard.  They confuse being creative with making art.
Making art is the hard part.  Creativity is the easy and fun part.
Sure, you're being creative when you think up some art project or piece of music, but you're also being creative when you pick out what you're going to wear in the morning, preparing a wonderful meal with the scraps in your kitchen, planting seeds in your garden--or in the minds of your children as you tell them stories or give them finger paints.
You'll know when you're being creative.  You'll recognize it by that rush of excited energy that says "Hey, let's do, put on, make, read, play with, go to, plant THAT and see what happens!"
No effort is required; just opened eyes and heart, an active imagination and the desire to do something interesting.
Now, is that so hard?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

"Contentment is a creativity killer, but don't worry - I'm very capable of making myself discontented."--Florence Welch

This quote presupposes that we can be content, and we can--but not for long.
We're human.  We like variety, no, we need variety and, as the old saw goes, necessity is the mother of invention.
We can get bored with contentment and so we look to spicing up our daily bread with a pinch of creativity.
In short, I don't agree that contentment is a "creativity killer".  Contentment can lead to boredom,  but boredom is a rich soil in which creativity thrives.

Friday, September 13, 2013

"Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous."-- Bill Moyers

A pithy and perfect quote from Bill Moyers.  It needs nothing added or subtracted from me--except for this: when he speaks of finding the marvelous in the mundane it reminds me of how much fun a little creativity can add to any aspect of life.  Pretending, making up a story, finding something beautiful where you least expect it, all of these small acts of creativity add a needed dash of enjoyment to everyday life.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

"Creativity varies inversely with the number of cooks involved in the broth."-- Bernice Fitz-Gibbon

Here's the deal with this: I think that there's a lot to be said for artistic collaboration.  However, if you don't have an art director, someone who holds the final vision in his or her head, you've got a battle of egos, and the cream doesn't necessarily rise to the top.
One of the things I've learned is that creative introverts are loath to express themselves in a pack of people, and their good ideas are not necessarily aired or heard. Creative extraverts would get the projects. Sometimes this is a good thing, and sometimes not so good.
If you want to get the best out of a group of creatives, provide a space that's supportive and judgement-free, where all and sundry feel safe to express themselves.  After all, fresh and creative ideas are as delicate as newborn babies.  They thrive only when they're nurtured.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"Somebody informed me recently that the key to every art, from writing to gardening to sculpture, is creativity. I beg to differ."-Roy Blount, Jr.

I completely agree with Roy.  The key to every art is practice, practice, practice because, as in the making of any product, making a piece of art means more than just thinking it up.  It means having the discipline to follow your idea through to the end with as much expertise as you have available to you.
Creativity, as I'm learning as I explore this concept, is natural to us all.  Making art is not.  Making art takes work, devotion, dedication, focus, and energy.
Everyone is creative.  Only artists make art.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"Whatever creativity is, it is in part a solution to a problem."--Brian Aldiss

And necessity is the mother of invention.  We've all heard this, but I think Brian is pointing to something deeper than that.
The creative impulse is all about making something new, and in the making of it we feel new things.  We feel more alive, more connected, and more in charge of our reality. The true power of who we are flows through us.
Creativity is the solution to the problem of emotional, spiritual and intellectual deadness. The richness in our lives, or lack of it, is a direct result of how creative we have been with the tools we have at our disposal: our strengths, our courage, and our determination to live our truth.

Monday, September 9, 2013

"Creativity is always a leap of faith. You're faced with a blank page, blank easel, or an empty stage". --Julia Cameron

This is the place that separates the children from the adults.
Children are usually more than willing to take that leap. They want to be where they can feel the most delicious and exciting energy.
Adults are often too worried about the effects of their actions.  They look too long and too hard about possible consequences before they leap, which sucks the energy out of any creative path.
Perhaps they worry that hey take might be jumping right out of their current lives.  Maybe that's not such a bad thing.
It's certainly what children want.  They want to grow and be bigger than they are.  They want to live in a place more magical than their current reality, so they take up brush and chalk and blocks and sand and army figures and dolls and they create a wonderful world for themselves where they can expand their consciousness' and live their dreams.
Blank pages, blank easels, and empty stages are made to be filled with delight and wonder.  Children know that, and are eager to scribble and paint and emote.
You know that too, so get in touch with your inner child and leap into living.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

"Creativity can be described as letting go of certainties.''--Gail Sheehy

Gail is right.  This is the approach that serves creativity best.
As soon as you're certain about anything--from a relationship to a concept-- you kill the aliveness within. When something is alive, it has the ability to change; to become something new and different.
When you don't allow for change you disallow creativity, because creativity thrives when you let go of certainties and realize that nothing is certain, and everything is possible.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

"The mind uses its faculty for creativity only when experience forces it to do so."--Henri Poincare

This is a very sad quote.  Henri speaks as if he had never been a child lying on his back on the grass and making up stories and animals out of the shapes of the clouds.  What experience forces a child to do that?
Creativity is effortless.
Our minds can't help but make associations and explanations from the information that surrounds us. That's its job.  It tries to make sense of it all, and it has to be sometimes wildly creative in order to translate the impulses received into a perceived and logical external reality.
Maybe this is what Henri means by the above quote, but there's no "only when". There's "all the time".
We really do create our own reality.  There's no "forcing" about it. We can't help it.

Friday, September 6, 2013

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."--Scott Adams Read

Creativity, giving birth to something new, requires mistakes.  After all, there are no rules in the exploring of brand-new territories.
In the old sea maps poorly explored areas were labelled with the words "Here There Be Dragons".
The Dragons we run into when we try something new are the ideas that turn out to be mistakes.  They don't work; instead they fall flat. Bummer.
The discouragement that comes from having an unworkable idea sometimes quells the impulse to be creative. Most of us hate making mistakes, and we find ourselves taking off our armor and sheathing our swords because we lack the courage to face that particular dragon again.
We get "dis-couraged".  Don't.  If you do, you'll shut down a vital part of yourself, the part that longs to create, the part that I'll call your Inner Artist.
Art is not so much knowing what mistakes to keep--since what doesn't work is pretty clear--but which mistakes are not mistakes at all--they're new discoveries that juice your energy and light up your life.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

"The idea that motherhood is inherently somehow a threat to creativity is just absurd."--Zadie Smith

Absolutely true, Zadie.
If you think that creativity involves making some kind of product, and if you don't lose yourself in your studio or practice your instrument 8 hours or more a day you can't be creative, and children would demand too much of your time away from your art--then you're right.  Please don't have a kid.
But that's kind of a narrow definition of what creativity is and does.
After all, creating a human being is a pretty amazing creative act all by itself (hello), and it doesn't stop there. You have to be creative in a whole new way if you want to bring up a child effectively. You have to stretch mind and body to productively include this little person in your life.  You find yourself you thinking of brand new ways of coping and enjoying yourself that might never have occurred to you pre-child.
After all, when you're a parent your whole life changes, and your creativity in response to that is your ace in the hole.  If you're not stretching your creative muscles when they're little (and you will), just wait until they're teenagers.
And all that out of the box thinking just might make your Art (with a capitol "A") a richer and fuller thing; more profound.
Plus, with your wider life experience, you probably won't find yourself saying something as absurd as "motherhood is a threat to creativity".
You'll be wiser than that.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway to life."--Daisaku Ikeda

Wow.  Daisaku makes creativity sound really hard when, in fact, our creativity is instinctive and fills every second of our daily lives.
It's how we use our creative power that gives us trouble.
We wake up in the morning anticipating the day. Our  thoughts immediately start to create our present--and future--experience.
In simple terms, if we feel crappy and we don't work to feel better, we'll probably have a bad day.  If we feel great, that starts the creative ball rolling in a  more positive direction.
The hardest part of creating a better life is taking control of your experience; understanding that YOU--and what you're focusing on--are the essential ingredients in making your life work for you.  If you don't think you have that power, then you  become a victim of whatever bothers you.
You're not a victim.  You're in creative control, but the "heavy, groaning doorway to life" is not labeled "creativity:" It's clearly marked with the words "personal responsibility".

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Creativity makes a leap, then looks to see where it is." --Mason Cooley

Creativity is an exploration.  The words "be careful" have no place in this particular journey.  As was pointed out in an earlier post, creativity brings something new into the world.  There are no maps to this new place, You have to feel your way.  You can have an idea where you want to go, but the end result can look completely different than what you imagined.
It takes courage to begin this journey into the unknown, and it can be a little terrifying, but the fun and excitement of birthing a brand-new anything is worth the risk of self exposure, since what the creative person is actually doing is shining a light onto their own sweet self and saying "look, here I am!"
Ultimately, what you see when you "look to see where" you are is the truth about yourself--and for better or worse--everyone who cares to look can see it too.

Monday, September 2, 2013

"The chief enemy of creativity is 'good' sense."-- Pablo Picasso

A show of hands: Who here agree that the essence of creativity is to give something brand new to the world?
I agree, and that's why Picasso is right.  "Good sense" which is based on mass consciousness and social conditioning, has nothing to offer a creative spirit.  "Good Sense" serves only as a platform to stand on as you reach for a new and very personal take on what I laughingly refer to as "reality".
Want to go for something completely different?  Try nonsense!
I bet you're humming  the Monty Python theme in your head right now.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

"Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy."-- Ray Bradbury

This month I'm going to explore the nature of creativity, and I found this quote.  A good beginning, I think, because it speaks to what so often and so easily ends the creative impulse: Thinking.
At least for me.
I've allowed myself to abandon some of my favorite ideas because I've thought about them too much.  I start with the idea itself, then I run it through a series of (yes, self-conscious) questions:

  1. Will it be fun to do? (On the face of it, a good, but really irrelevant, question.)
  2. Do I have the chops to do it? (Oh, come on!! Just Do it YOUR WAY, you idiot!)
  3. Will I be happy with it when I'm done? (Oh, now you're just being ridiculous.)
  4. Will other people like it?  (Warning sirens are going off!!)
  5. Will it make me money? (NO!! STOP!! DANGER, DANGER!!)
By the time I've reached #5 in my internal dialogue, I've all but disregarded my creative impulse.  Far better to let my idea show me what it wants to express.  Far better to just plunge in, enjoy the experience and let the future take care of itself!