Do one thing

When I first conceived the idea for this blog I thought I’d set myself a challenge: Engage in one creative activity every day. 

Now I’m realizing that a possible danger with that project is that I might end up turning creative experiences into just another source of pressure, something that has to be done. Those of us prone to achievement-addiction can easily trick ourselves into making even our leisure activities all about performance and ticking off to-do lists.

On the other hand, if you want to establish a positive habit it does take an initial effort and laying out some sort of plan to guide you in that process is usually helpful, even necessary. I recently read the following definition of “willpower” which I think is really helpful. It demonstrates how we can utilize the concept in a positive way on the path of self-development (this is from Charles Eisenstein’s The Yoga of Eating where he presents his approach to establishing healthy eating habits by trusting your body’s own messages instead of clinging to diet dogmas…):

The proper function of willpower and self-discipline is to extend wisdom and insight into times of imperfect clarity; to remember and apply the messages of one’s inner voice. For example, if you are engaged in joyful work, when distractions come you may need to remind yourself of what you really want to be doing….True discipline is really just self-remembering; no forcing or fighting is necessary.

And that’s really how most of us feel about bringing more creativity into our lives, right? It’s what we truly long for but there just never seems to be enough time to write, draw, practice the guitar etc. on a daily basis. I’m already finding this “not enough time” syndrome creeping back into my life although I’m currently unemployed and haven’t even spent any time job-hunting thus far! I have been spending my days doing things I enjoy and find meaningful – what a joy and relief compared to the days waisted sitting in an office! – but I can see I need to establish somewhat of a routine to not let any one of my priorities fall by the wayside.

So establishing routines is one side of making time for what’s important to you. (I’ll give you the scoop on what my routine is going to consist of in the next post – I’m getting busy…!)

But when it comes to being “creative”, I think it’s also valuable to examine what that really means, i.e. aren’t we actually creative in many more ways than those conventionally subsumed under that headline, which tend to focus on strictly artistic activities? Being creative doesn’t always have to be about specific designated activities. Feeling creative I’ve come to think is primarily about expressing / exploring my own true self. In everyday situations that can mean simply not blocking my full potential which naturally wants to flow and manifest itself. I intend to be in visceral connection with my intuition, my physical and emotional state at every moment. That awareness can tell me what it really is that I need or that I am capable of in any given situation. THE most effective way to tune into that intuition is conscious, deep breathing. And that’s something we can all do, all the time.

 

relax

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You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club!

…said Jack London.
I’m back from my 3 month trip in search of inspiration (check the photography section for some impressions from California and NYC) and now it’s time to take action!
I just glanced at a few notes I had made prior to the journey, outlining the creative challenge I was hoping to tackle:

I have this fear, this nagging doubt – that everything’s been done already. Art, creative projects, business ideas. But when I see some of my friends’ or strangers’ creative output, I’m envious! I instantly get the urge to do something myself! So what is at the root of this lack of faith that my creative ideas / creations could be original or their quality “good enough”?

Maybe this trip will help: Before diving in without fully trusting my creativity, I’ll step back first, calm down, focus, gather strength, most of all: INSPIRATION and CONNECTION with myself and my relation to the world. If I fully felt that personal connection, I suppose it would be that which I’d express in my art or job pursuits. So hopefully I’ll come back with vigour and able to be more within doing – give my projects a purpose within themselves, for me personally. Then they will be original. Or the question of whether they can speak to others too will become secondary to me. (And besides, do they even need to be “original”? Doesn’t art keep repeating the same age-old human themes?)

Co-incidentally Austin Kleon’s book Steal Like An Artist that’s being featured all over the place right now addresses my questions exactly. And his answers are wonderfully reassuring:

These ideas apply to anyone who’s trying to inject some creativity into their life and their work. (That should describe all of us.) … Every artist gets asked the question, “Where do you get your ideas?” The honest artist answers, “I steal them.” … stop worrying about what’s “good” and what’s “bad” – there’s only stuff worth stealing, and stuff that’s not worth stealing… What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere… Nothing is completely original.

Kleon’s advice: “Don’t wait until you know who your are to get started.”

Right on. That’s exactly the attitude I feel taking root inside me now. I experienced inspiration and connection during my time away and now it’s a matter of continual PRACTICE. Just doing it! And remaining wary: not letting those self-defeating patterns of self-doubt and self-isolation and plain laziness creep back into my life.  I met people who are consciously trying to be creative and true to themselves in their thoughts and actions every day. People who open up and reach out to strangers – something that many people in my city seem to deny themselves, despite the apparently wide-spread longing for more connection. How can people have inspiring encounters and transform these into confident creativity if they don’t open up to the world, every day?

So here goes: Let’s remind ourselves to consciously reach out and reach within, to explore our full potential every single day! Let’s grab that club and hunt down inspiration!