Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Make it...Don't Break it
A few years ago, while on one of my "self-help" book quests, I ordered "The Artist's Way." Of course, I couldn't stop there. I also purchased the accompanying "The Artist's Way Every Day," "The Artist's Way Workbook," and "The Writing Diet." (All written by Julia Cameron)
I figured, if I was going to do this....I was going to do it RIGHT!
The concept of these books is to write what she calls "morning pages" every day. Three pages of "whatever pops into your head," first thing in the morning.
That lasted about 4 days for me.
I was terrible at morning pages.
When it came to writing in a journal, I was only able to do it consistently when things were going badly in my life. It was therapy then. Of course, I always wish I had written daily, just so I could go back and remember what I had done with the last 20 years of my life, since my memory of most of it is blurry....but, all I have are the writings of a frustrated woman which occur less than 8 times per year.
I didn't give up. Even though my dedication to journaling was the equivalent of my desire to get a full body wax, I kept trying to get good at it.
I did find that I really liked "The Artist's Way Every Day" because it was simply a book that contained a paragraph or two per day (Jan. 1- Dec. 31) in which she wrote about writing and being creative.
This I could handle.
One of my favorite entries is the very first....January 1:
"One of the most important tasks in artistic recovery is learning to call things---and ourselves----by the right names. Most of us have spent years using the wrong names for our behaviors. We have wanted to create and we have been unable to create and we have called that inability laziness. That is not merely inaccurate. It is cruel. Accuracy and compassion serve us far better. Blocked artists are not lazy. They are blocked. Do not call the inability to start laziness. Call it fear." Julia Cameron
(You can click on her name if you would like to check out the book.)
I love how she approaches this. I can't tell you the number of times I have sat at the piano, trying to focus, needing to pull some original music out of myself....and all I get is simplistic junk.
Or the times that I have started to conjure up a story....spent hours researching different cities to find the perfect setting, searching endlessly for all the information I can get about all of the surrounding area, looking for pictures, maps, anything I can get my hands on...and when it's time to write, I draw a blank.
However, I recall standing at the piano toward the end of one of my 7th grade choir rehearsals, surrounded by 70 middle school kids. It was utter chaos. They were so loud and obnoxious, I could barely hear myself think...but suddenly, this idea came to me, and the next thing I knew, I was writing a cool arrangement for my choir to sing during lent. Another chaotic day, a beautiful psalm setting just flowed from me. Apparently I need 70 screaming middle schoolers in the room to write music?
I think believing in yourself is so important when it comes to your creativity. I remember the first time I decided to paint a room in our house. I was so nervous about choosing the wrong color. We bought two gallons of this hideous orangey beige....and after putting a little on the wall, I decided I hated it (it looked like someone smeared make-up in the corner of my living room) and we just painted it white again. If we had actually painted the whole wall, it might have looked ok....but I wasn't willing to give it a chance. What a waste of $60 worth of paint. And what a complete chicken I was. I got more adventurous with each house...and I don't think there is a color I haven't tried now. I think Mark's personal favorite was when he came home to a hot pink accent wall in the living room. Technically, it was "watermelon." :)
But, when it comes to unleashing your creativity, how are you going to know if you don't try?
I think the scariest part of being "creative" is that it is usually a direct reflection of ourselves. It is something that we do, or create, or dream up. Before we became involved, it didn't exist. Therefore, it becomes personal....and that is scary. However, it is also rewarding. And, when you allow your mind to expand creatively, the possibilities are endless.
Too many times, we play it safe, and squelch the creative genius that lives inside of us. Can you imagine how boring the world would be if Beethoven, or Einstein, or Van Gogh had decided to play it "safe," and not allow their creativity to flourish?
And, if you REALLY get into your creative side, you can be as wonky as you want, and just blame it on the "artist inside of you." Because artists cut off their ears, and weird stuff like that, right? ;)
If you look up "creativity" in the thesaurus, you will see some of my very favorite words listed as synonyms:
The words even LOOK creative when lined up!
Obviously, creativity is a GOOD thing!
And the beautiful thing is, there is NO limit to our creativity. We can do anything we want with it! We can incorporate it into EVERY aspect of our lives. It is a part of us, and is there to enhance everything we do.
It is so easy to fall into a stale routine. At work, at home, in life. If you step outside your "safety zone" for a moment, and look at your life from a different perspective, maybe there are some small things you can do to spice things up a little bit. It doesn't have to be life-changing (but it COULD be life changing!)
It could be something as simple as getting more creative with your desk at work. How can you jazz things up a bit, so you really like how it looks?
Or maybe, when you get home, the first thing you do is light a couple candles, and turn on some music....and then start with all of the things that have to get done.
Could you rearrange your countertop and use one section as a coffee station? You could stock it with some cute new mugs, and your favorite coffee. Give yourself something to look forward to in the morning.
Do little things to give yourself an extra boost. Something to make you smile. Get creative.
You have free reign over your life, so why not have some fun? I have said it 100 times....but I will say it again. It is the little things that make our lives better. And you deserve those little things, so take some time to do something nice for yourself today!
And make sure it's CREATIVE!