Showing Up, Letting Go, and Seeking Out: Keeping the Creativity Flowing

May 15, 2013

Ando’s Creative Diary Entry Log
Earth Year 2013
Colorado, USA

January 1, 2013: I have started my creative recovery. I’m pumped! I am  journaling every day, devouring The Artists Way, treating myself to decadent artist’s dates, snapping museum worthy pictures and reveling in my new found artistic freedom.  I am a real artist, a real creative, and it feels fantastic!

January 24, 2013: I have come down with a nasty cold, and it is hanging on mercilessly. Trying to come back to the page but I have lost all momentum.  I have work to catch up on from the lost sick week, luckily my creative urges have subsided so I will be able to devote my energy to work.

March 1, 2013: Work is done! My journal is back open and it feels great to be working the pen like a maestro. I have some new song ideas I am really excited about, and am getting my guitar fixed up so they can come to life.

March 10, 2013: Child care has fallen through again, and my days have been filled with park playgrounds and putting together puzzles, not the music making I had in mind.

Today: I’m back and feeling the flow. My guitar is ready and I’m stoked to get some stuff down later.

Tomorrow: Who knows……………….

The Creativity Train Taking A Break in Nowheresville. By: Brent Moore

And so it goes, this back and forth, this seesaw of creative flow and drought. I keep wondering why I can’t just stay in the flow and reticently come to the realization that creativity doesn’t work that way. It is not linear, or sensible, or pragmatic. It is messy and out of  control, subject to whims and flights of fancy.

However, I think there are some things I can do to help my creative train keep on chugging, rather than stopping for a leg stretch at every podunk town between here and wherever it is that I’m headed (hopefully Creativityville or Inspirationland, or at least Kansas City).

Showing Up

Creative thinking – in terms of idea creativity – is not a mystical talent. It is a skill that can be practised and nurtured.
Edward de Bono

Showing up is more than half the battle. Writing anything no matter how horrible. Carving out the time to devote to the practice of creativity, because practice is how we get better at anything.

Taking the pressure off can be a huge help. I recently saw a tip to say to yourself something like “I’m just going to look at my supplies, take out my pens and tinker around”.  Inevitably something is created from this simple act. And if not, no big deal – you’ve still taken inventory of your supplies and maybe gotten an idea of a few things you need. For me, it is taking out my guitar and seeing what comes up. More often than not a song is born from this exploration.

And of course journaling…. every morning. A daily practice like this always yields positive results, I just need to figure out how to make it automatic, like breakfast or brushing my teeth.  I also think penciling in 3 hours a week of pure creative time (and turning off any potential distractions during that time) might be needed at this point, to make sure I get it done.

If you are well practiced, even through times of creative drought, when the ideas do come, you are ready to pounce. Practice is training so that those rare and beautifully brilliant ideas can be captured skillfully when they arise.

Letting Go

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

Letting go of expectations about how creativity should look and about how good something should be, especially in first draft form. Letting go of the inner judgements that stop the flow (this is shitty work, I’m not creative etc.). Letting go of fear about how others see me.

Basically cutting myself a little slack and seeing where the muse wants to take me, because it is surely a place I’d not see otherwise, and might not even know exists. Finding those hidden gems are what makes creativity so exciting to me.

So often expectations about how the work should look end up killing off great ideas and limiting what can happen.  I need to find some ways to free myself up, so that I can let myself go.

Seeking Out

You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.
Jack London

Inspiration is everywhere, but sometimes you need to go looking for it, or change your mindset in order to see it in front of you.

Filling the well is what Julia Cameron calls it, and for her this means going to a museum, a collectibles store, or a hike somewhere new.  Seeking out new experiences, places and people can be an easy way to seek out new ideas.

Inspiration can also be found by really listening to the song on the radio, or really tasting the food in front of you. This requires a more subtle “club” as Mr. London refers to it. Creativity can come from the mundane, it is found in turning off our thoughts and experiencing what  is happening. Slowing down and taking in the moment can put a new perspective on a situation.  Life is intrinsically creative, the sky is a canvas in motion.

Tapping into this constant creativity is not easy, but with intention we can seek out creativity at any moment.

The Cyclical Nature of Things

I’ve Got Tides in Low Places By: Neva Swensen

The earth is the ultimate creator, and we exist in a cyclical state.  In small time this looks like the moon phases or circadian rhythms, step back and you see the rise and fall of species, mountains being created and destroyed, life forming. Creativity is like that, it is ever changing, but there are high tides and low tides of creative flow.

Recognizing the flow has helped me to be a little less judgmental of my creative process so far. I can still work on things during the low tides (like showing up, letting go and seeking out) which will prepare me to ride the high tides when the time is right.

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