Creative Rapport

In Creative Inspiration on February 26, 2013 at 2:52 am

There are weeks when I feel I am accomplishing nothing. This is not simple procrastination (which I wrote about three weeks ago). This instead feels like a loss of vision, a lack of passion, and a straying from, not merely my creative goals, but from my creative self.

I feel like a sleeper agent that has forgotten his mission, as if I’ve grown up in enemy territory and forgotten whose side I’m on. I recognize that being on my own side is an important thing. What this means is that I have to re-establish rapport with myself, reconnect with my mission, my interests, my passion and drives, and break away from the millions of things that, while entertaining, distract me from myself and creative drive.

Here are some of the things I’ve discovered that are essential for re-establishing and maintaining rapport with creative self:

• Cross-pollination: I find this to be the key to my imagination and inspiration. It just means taking in as much stimuli from different sources as your brain and senses can comfortably handle. Read a novel. Go to poetry readings. Attend lectures on interesting subjects or download TED talks. Read interesting non-fiction about history, crime, global politics, or whatever you find interesting that you don’t already know a lot about. I’m not suggesting you choose between these things. I’m suggesting you do all of them at once or at least within the span of a week or two. Keep uploading interesting stuff into your brain and your unconscious will see interesting connections or interpretations that will make for a good story, poem, article, dance routine, or whatever.

• Music: Listen to music that makes you want to dance, or unleash your anger, or want to cry. Any music that helps you get in touch with your emotions is good. Listening to music helps us process our emotions. Why do you think teenagers, who we know are quite emotional, listen to so much music? Maybe listening to music you listened to as a teenager will release some emotions you haven’t let out in a while. Maybe finding some new music will help you cross-pollinate (see above).

• Get Your Blood Pumping: I find that when I’m exercising regularly, I’m also writing regularly. They have always gone hand in hand. Without exception, if I’m not exercising, I’m not writing. Maybe it’s because my brain is getting more oxygen and other nutrients due to increased blood flow. In any case, I’ve found exercise essential to creative output.

• Change of Scenery: When I’m at home, I often spend all day in front of the computer, surfing the web, trying to find amusement and distraction. On those days, it’s best to just find a cafe somewhere and drown my distraction in pastries and chocolate-flavored, caffeinated brain juice. The library is useful too. I often just need a place away from YouTube, my Xbox, my DVD player, cable TV, or any other shiny thing to capture my attention.

• Read a Poem or Short Piece or Excerpt That Inspires You: This serves a purpose that’s similar to music. It helps you process your emotions and reminds you of what has moved you in the past. I suggest reading short pieces so that you can take a little amount of time to grab some inspiration and get back to your creative goal.

• Read Your Own Work: Read something you’ve written that you enjoy. Remind yourself that you’re good and that in the past you have reached your creative goals. If you look at a piece and think it’s not as good as it could be, first, just enjoy that you made the effort and finished something, and, second, possibly use that piece as a jumping off place for a new project (or just give the piece some minor tweaks if that’s all it needs).

• Pay Attention to Your Ideas: This is the oldest bit of creative advice in the world. Keep a notebook and whenever you get an idea for a creative project (poem, story, drawing, etc.) write down, sketch it, capture it quickly, not out of the fear of losing it, as if you must capture this one idea out of fear that other good ones won’t show up. I don’t find fear a good motivator for creativity. This process, instead, is one of welcoming. If you keep paying attention to the ideas as they show up, others will continue to show up. This is why I think I’m going to soon keep a log of story ideas and segments on this blog. More on that later.

• Show Up: Woody Allen is attributed with saying that 80% of success is showing up. Now, I don’t believe this number was produced by any scientific method and I don’t even have a source for the quote, but there’s something to this. If you’ve decided for yourself to meet a goal, don’t stress about whether you can meet the goal. Don’t listen to anxiety before you put pen to paper. The first thing you need to do is show up. In fact, it might help if you act as if that showing up is all that’s required of you. When I decide this and show up at the writing desk (or café – see above), or the poetry slam, or what-have-you, my anxiety disappears into the background.

The trick is to find things that energize you, not simply distract you. Find things that engage the best parts of you and get those pieces strong enough to counter the arguments from the voices that are trying to prevent you from any action that causes your ego to flinch. Those voices are scared and are trying to drag you away from the risky behavior of creating. Instead, take a moment get back in touch with your creative self. Exercise it and make it strong enough to shrug off the fear.


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