Hmm. What to write.

It is the kind of morning where creativity has gone AWOL. In fact it has been AWOL for a few days of poetry writing. This periodic creativity disappearing act is normal for me.  I like to think my creativity is on a beach in the Virgin Islands debating on whether to get a tan or apply sun screen. Since it is November, it could be that all the Rocky Mountain river runners are doing their winter gigs in the Caribbean, teaching sea kayaking, thus my creativity receives instruction from someone I may know.

My usual creative pattern is I am creative for about three months, then creativity goes away for a few weeks. Some people call this “goes away” duration A dry well filling.

A lot of books are written about creativity and being creative and releasing your inner creativity. Some of those authors have made large sums of money and become something akin to folk heroes to their fans. I read one of those books a little over twenty years ago: The Artist’s Way. It did not teach me anything I did not know. It did emphasize the need to work at it every day.

So is Creativity a skill or a divine spark. I say a skill. It is something a person practices. With all skills, some people have a natural talent for it.  In some cases a person has a greater love for the creative skill, thus puts more time into the practice.

Tools required for practicing creativity: curiosity, an understanding that failure is part of the process, vulnerability, setting aside time every day to work on your creative pursuit.

Curiosity. Every creative person I have ever known has abundant curiosity. They want to explore. They want to learn new ways of using their art (form of expression / work). They just know that there is more and better way than the accepted method or current social accepted themes.

Failure. If you are afraid to fail, you most likely will not be creative. Creativity is often achieved by degrees of revision. In other words, if you start at Thought A and wish to create you way to brand new thought B, there are hundreds of little steps (failures) taken between the two.  If you are lucky, there is an “ah-hah” moment that takes a short cut. Usually “ah-hah” happens somewhere after you have completed half the required little steps to get to brand new thought B.

Vulnerability. This is often coupled with failure, because so many people are afraid of failing and being the momentary fool in others’ eyes. What I am pointing out is the openness to the unspoken, intuition, your inner voices. Many people shut out their intuition and inner voices, because those two experiences do not conform. There is nothing wrong with conforming, but creativity is non-conforming. In fact, creativity is by nature chaotic. Not total chaos, but breaking up of accepted patterns chaotic.

Time. Over the years I have spoken with many people who wish to be artistic, musical, expressive, but really are not willing to put in the time. Or set aside the time. Most of them have excellent reasons. The most common of which is kids. They invest their time into their children (very creative in itself if you think about it). What I am saying is you must make a conscious decision to be creative X hours a day. I suggest you pick a bare minimum of one hour a day. Usually, the first half hour of your set aside creative time is unloading the BS of the day that disrupts creativity. Once you have decided on how many hours to spend at your creative skill, build it into your schedule, then be disciplined enough to do it every day or at least 5 days a week.

Artists (poetry being my art) as a whole have a reputation of being depressed or troubled. Not all of them, but enough to earn that rep’. In my mind, in my case, the creativity exists for two reasons. One) to find a way of expressing the un-expressible from life traumas. Two) to distract me as the traumas surface from time to time to interfere with average American life. The worse the trauma, the greater the need for distraction, thus the more creative, sometimes too far out for most people. Art is a better distraction vehicle than whiskey (alchohol or your choice of chemical drugs), though many artists combine the two (think Hemingway and most rock bands).

Not all creative people are depressed or suffer trauma. For many curiosity is enough. Or passion about the subject. Example: when optic fibers were invented the signal did not travel far enough to be of much value, but a guy in AT&T’s R&D department kept futzing with the signal so it could travel farther and farther. Eventually he got the signal to go five-thousand miles before it required boosting. At five-thousand miles optic fibers became economically viable.

Each day when you start your creative hour, do not let little things stop you. This morning I did not know what to write in this blog. I simply started writing and a topic showed up on its own accord. In my early days of being a poet, I kept a daily journal that I would free write for an hour. Some days would start with these written lines repeated: “I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write.” Eventually writing “I don’t know what to write” repeatedly loosened up a subject and I grabbed it and was scribbling furiously with my imperfect script.

To arrive at completed art, creativity requires the partner of editing (for writers). They utilize different parts of the brain and should be done separately.  For me, they are done on different days when practical.


Love & Light




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