Too Much World and Not Enough Me
The world is a lot to handle. Too much so. Yet we feel it affecting us: lifting our spirits when times are good and dragging them down when bad. It can be tough being creative at the best of times. So what to do to when times get rough? How to keep creativity alive and breathing at least? There's always something more urgent to do, something more important in the world that pulls or needs our attention. Our Responsibility feels like it's fighting with our Creativity and knocking it out.
Why Our Creativity Matters
Not to down-play the many matters in out lives and world that need attention and action (I write this column during the aggressive invasion in the Ukraine), but we need to put on our own safety-gear before helping others. We need our creative juices flowing, not just for us, but for our effectiveness in the world, sparking our ideas and actions. It's worth remembering that many remarkably constructive contributors to the world (Albert Einstein, DaVinci, Jean Piaget, Nelson Mandela, Mark Twain, Carl Sagan, among others) have stressed the value of play and imagination, especially in times of drought or adversity.
It's often hardest to be creative when feeling fearful or threatened. Conditioned knee-jerk responses set in and bully-away our creative urges. It takes some gumption (and practice) to insist that creativity matters in such fraught times. Yet these creative urges and the ideas they spark are exactly what we need to help us out of the fear and into possible constructive actions.
Factors other than fear compete against our creativity. Even in good times, our lives may feel rich, full, and free to make choices. Too many choices, in fact. We're overwhelmed by our freedom!
Choices become a burden when you feel you've got to be right, or got to be good. Making no choice, doing anything but ... is a familiar but unsatisfying avoidance strategy. So how gently to slide back into doing something that may help get your creative energy sparked?
Tip: Open the Door to Creativity
Take a breath. Do something creative with a small "c". Call it playing around, fooling around, making a mess. Don't bother thinking much about it, just take a little time and do it. Here's something I do when I just can't face a blank canvas and even wonder whatever made me think I was an artist. For me, it helps to have a little structure (e.g., one playground) to start with.
Don't bother how it looks to others: just see what you like or don't (cover it with something else). Don't even think about a finished product. Just scraps. You're not pushing a rock up a mountain. You don't even have to paste them down. I do because I know they'll surprise me and may spark a creative idea or painting. You can photo your unpasted scrappings, if you like
Here's a sample of some of my "scraps". They were done in about an hour ... no judgment. I used magazine scraps plus white paint in some. Even what you don't like gives you information you can creatively use. The point is just to DO it. You may even find yourself smiling in the process!