The life of the artist – the creative individual is fraught with mundane necessities. You know: making a living; being reasonable to the people you live with; cleaning your teeth and leaving the house without smelling or with too many holes or stains down the front of your shirt. So, good writers, artists, sewers, knitters, photographers, potters, soap makers, cake makers and decorators; all makers and creators, how do we keep our creative flame burning when the nay-saying winds swirl around us doing all that is possible to snuff out our fires?
1. Keep believing. You must believe in yourself. If you don’t no-one else will.
2. Allow yourself to be. You don’t have to do all the time. Be in the space, the time, the mood. Don’t feel you have to lift a utensil of any type. Just be, let it flow over you, into you and when you’re really ready you can do.
3. Be aware of all that is possible in the world. Everything around you can feed your creative spirit. Read newspapers, trashy magazines, surf the net, watch telly, go to the movies, window shop, have drinks with friends, go somewhere new, do something new. If you accept that all that you do is part of your creative/making spirit then nothing you do is wasted, is taking you away from your need, your desire to create.
4. Keep a note-book. It’s not necessary to take it everywhere! But it is important to keep track of ideas, interesting snippets, visual images. Stick things into it – clippings, pictures, ads, tickets, a leaf, a flower; your own sketches, plans, lists, hopes, character beginnings, the house you will live in one day. As with 3 – keep all sorts of things, just because there’s something, well, just something about them. You never know what will burrow into your brain, what you will find useful. Looking back over these books is pure bliss and something half forgotten, some obscure note, could spark something brilliant.
5. Practise your chosen Art regularly. You won’t get better or keep the creative buzz bubbling if you don’t do it. So, as well as just being – you also have to do. As often as you can. Once a day may be impractical. Even once a week can be too much at times too, but I think that’s what you should aim for. Even if it’s one perfect cup cake, even if it’s just one small blog, a brief sketch of your dog as a dragon, one perfectly composed photo. Schedule yourself some time each week to do what you must do to be you – to be the creative person that keeps you alive. Don’t let the mundanity of life over-whelm you. Give yourself at least an hour a week to do, to make. It’s not that much time really over the whole week, is it now?
6. Share your work. How many ways can you do this? Face-book is the obvious one and so many people post their latest creations and it is a buzz for friends to see how fabulous and clever you are. Set up your own blog, and even if you’re not a writer, you can post amazing pictures of what you do – get your magic out there. Remember Kevin Coster, in Field of Dreams – ‘if you build it, they will come’? Join groups, clubs, of like minded people. Enter competitions, do a course. Meet others like you, with a passion and desire to be magic and creative; they don’t all want to steal your ideas or criticise you. However, let me caution writers against some on-line sites, where you are invited to post your stories and join in the criticism and rating of other work. It sounds useful, but too often it’s not objective and can become incredibly vitriolic and soul destroying. I think this sort of interaction is better face to face, or with someone you trust, who can give you feedback that is honest and helps you become a better writer.
7. Collaborate. This could be scary, could be the best thing you do; especially as what I’m talking about is cross-field collaboration. This idea links to 3 – that you can find inspiration/creativity anywhere in your life. So, too can you take your work further by working with an artist from a different field to yours. We create different objects in different ways, but often from similar sources. I think the difference is that writers, painters, sculptors, etc see the world differently, experience it differently. It’s rather like foreign films or novels – there are many ways to see and experience life. Other people’s insight, ways of creating and making can only enrich us, make our own creative experiences better and more fun for us to make and for others to share.
I think all of these ideas are useful for the artist, but the golden 3 are – 1. believe in yourself; 2. be; and 3. do. Oh, and share. It does your creative juices the power of good to have some positive feedback.
Light the flame, let it burn bright!