I love the act of creativity.
Sometimes I forget that it is the act of creativity that is important, not what is created.
Because ours is such a “produce, produce, produce” society we are discouraged from being creative because we don’t believe we’ll create something worthwhile. What we either forget or fail to realize is that the greatest artists have turned out mountains of crap on the way to where we know them. They had to learn the craft of what they do. The greatest guitarist of all time (whoever you may believe that is) began by picking up the instrument for the first time, awkwardly placing their fingers on the fret board and strumming some wretched approximation of what they were trying to create. Writers wrote crap. Painters painted crap. Singers sang crap. Actors acted crap.
By coming back again and again to the act of creation they got a little better. Then a lot better. Creativity is an ongoing process. A living process. So anything that stops us from entering into that process slowly kills the creativity within us.
What’s killing my creativity is that I’m so excited about all my ideas. You see I REALLY enjoy being creative. I enjoy trying my hand at different things. I want to write and play guitar and draw and paint and carve wood and act and photography and probably a half a dozen other things that I’ve forgotten for the moment or haven’t discovered yet.
AND I WANT TO DO THEM ALL! RIGHT NOW!
That doesn’t work. I talk a lot about the challenge of the rocks and piles. All the things I want to do are individual rocks and they are stacked in piles. The work pile, the creative pile, the travel pile, an endless row of piles with many, many rocks in each one. The sheer volume of the piles overwhelms me into paralysis. Which should I do? If I do this then I can’t do that. Maybe I won’t enjoy this (won’t know till I try), maybe I won’t be any good at it (being good at it isn’t always the goal. Sometimes you need to do things for the sheer joy of doing it). I can create a whole new pile just of reasons why I’m not getting started on something creative.
The cure for the rocks and piles issue is simple – just pick a rock. Sometimes time and fortune forces your hand and you have to pick a specific rock. There are plenty of times when all I need to do is just pick something, anything and get started. It’s like priming a pump or jump starting an engine. Once I get rolling things suddenly begin to take on a life of their own.
I am blessed that, by and large, creativity and the creative act are avocational for me. I don’t have to pay the bills through it. So I can do whatever I want in pretty much any order I desire. In reality there are two areas of creativity I should be working (writing and guitar playing) and one I must (the prayer discs I wrote about HERE. I am making 21 sets of them as gifts for a group of pilgrims who will be leaving in about a month. So I must finish them). I’ll look at the other two areas in later posts.
For the moment I need to remember the joy the act of creativity brings me. I need to ignore the pile of excuses and silence the inner critic voice. I need to forget trying to produce and simply create.