Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Prepare to be Creative

Where did I find the time to even read this week? With everything that goes on around here, I've been hard pressed to find time to paint, much less read anything beyond the daily newspaper. Yes, I still read a real paper.

I love to read. I will read anything, books being my favorite. The heftier the better. When I was doing the Artists Way course we were not allowed to read. The idea was that reading takes away creative time and could be used as an excuse not to paint. I get that, but I'm sorry, somewhere in the day I need reading time.

On with The Creative Habit. I'm still on the first chapter and it's a good read so far. The author, Twyla Tharp, suggests creative people need to work at it to develop artistic habits. Makes sense. It's our job, our work, our being. So why is it so hard to keep in the creative loop? Well, she points to Mozart as an example. Boy genius or workaholic?

His father Leopold had massive influence as he was famous himself, but Wolfgang worked harder than no one else on his music. He had a fierce focus and was constantly at work. Nobody had to tell him to go practice as it was his passion. If he could do it, what's up with the rest of us?

We're not prepared, for one thing, so we lose our focus. Tharp notes:"In order to be creative you have to know how to prepare to be creative." We need our subject matter, our content and we can learn to make it habit, and that is a skill. Routines feed into creativity. "Everything is relevant. Everything is useable. Everything is raw material. But without preparation, I cannot see it, retain it, and use it. Without the time and effort invested in getting ready to create, you can be hit by the thunderbolt and it'll just leave you stunned."

Routine is the first step to ritual. Automatic, divisive patterns of behavior are vital to establishing a habit. Something that makes your brain click in, just before you plan to chicken out. The ritual "eliminates the question, Why am I doing this?" It also teases the notion of whether or not you feel like doing anything. We need to decide what daily ritual helps the brain click in and say Now I'm ready.

So, is it the daily sketch, the music we chose for painting time, lighting a candle, or the moment of quiet thought before we begin that signals the start of the ritual? As I face the blank, white canvas, alone in my solitude I need to think to myself "What's in it for me?"

Stay tuned..

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