I’ve been thinking about creativity a lot lately.
This summer has been absurdly busy, and I haven’t had a lot of time for creativity: no crafting, very little writing, no projects. All work and no creativity makes for a very unhappy Mama. Am I right?
We’re all busy. We all have children, jobs, responsibilities, pets, schedules and other creativity suckers that get in the way of the process. And creativity is a process. For me, creativity begets more creativity. painting salt dough Easter eggs with my son one afternoon this spring led to a late night where the words just flew out of my pen. The more I do, the more it flows. On the flip side, the less I do, the harder it is to start back up.
In what I consider to be perfect timing, my Writer’s Digest magazine for July/August arrived at the beginning of the summer with the headline “The Creativity Issue”. I immediately dived in and became obsessed. I subscribe to several writing magazines and usually flip through them leisurely, reading what applies to me and skipping the parts that don’t. I read this particular issue cover to cover…and then started again. When we moved, I kept it in my purse (which may sound dramatic to some of you, but let me point out I carry an enormous Mom Bag, in which things go in and are not seen again for weeks).
The first half of the issue is devoted to creativity roadblocks when it comes to writing. Some of my favorite takeaways:
From Amy Sue Nathan, Making More Room for Writing:
- Having a designated writing space of any sort increases the likelihood that you will actually use that area for writing.
- Know what you need. Quiet, a window, a sweater, a crunchy snack.
- We hold ourselves to high standards with word counts and deadlines and critiques. But letting ourselves off the hook–just a bit–can open up room for writing. (This is a big one for me. I am a little anal when it comes to filling out my calendar on Sunday night with goals and plans, and if I get behind or they fall apart, I fall apart with them).
From Grant Faulkner, Naked (On the Page) and Afraid
- I suppose that somewhere within myself I believed my stories were good enough–or feared others’ reaction would prove they weren’t good enough. Perhaps I worried about being exposed as a creative charlatan, a dilettante, a fool.
- It’s a common writer’s fear: that one’s life will be confused with the text. Because I grew up in a small town, where lives were constantly under scrutiny, such a fear was embedded within me and had surely become magnified over the years.
- There are two levels of vulnerability at play: Having the courage to write those words in the first place, and then having the courage to share them with the world.
- Why put a book into the world with hesitation? Why be ashamed of a creation I put my heart into?
From Steven James, Creative Under Pressure: How to Write Yourself Out of a Corner:
- Forcing yourself into a place where you can’t easily discern where to take things will allow for twists that readers never see coming, stretch you as a wrier, increase reader engagement, help you avoid cookie cutter stories and add mystery and intrigue.
- After writing yourself into a corner, examine the walls for hidden bookshelves and secret passages.
From Deb Caletti, Cultivating Creativity:
- Creativity is often described as a garden that needs tending–accurate if that garden also includes rocky ground, carnivorous plants and periods of doubt.
- Expectations, self-pressure and attempts to outsmart the market are the surest ways for creativity to make a run for it. And, they’re the surest ways to jeopardize the most powerful thing in your corner–your honest self-expression.
- Focusing on the experience, on the joy of the act, on what makes writing (or any other creative endeavor) what you love to do, keeps the rewards coming and the desire alive.
- Creative professionals understand that practicing their craft is not an indulgent, frivolous extra, but an essential piece of a rich, productive life.
- We mistakenly link creativity with writing a book or painting a painting, but ongoing artistic expression is often more about the continued search for meaning and understanding.
Of course, the hard part is putting all of this into action. For me, creativity flows most freely when I don’t feel like I should be doing other things–so my first step is to give myself time each day. The way my life is right now, it won’t be at the same time every day–perhaps it will be when JC starts kindergarten and we’re a little more structured, but we’re still in summer mode! So my goal this week is to look at each day and find the best space to give myself a little time.
How are you creative? Do you have a certain space you create in or time to be creative?
How are you creative? What is your trick to make time for creativity?