Wednesday, May 25, 2011

5 ways that creativity is like breathing

A Sage was once asked, what is the secret to a long and satisfied life?  He answered, "Keep breathing."

Inhale slowly, hold it, exhale slowly, empty your lungs, inhale slowly....the creative breath flows through each of us.  Do you feel it?

Stack Of Books by thephotoholic

1.  Its important to breath in deeply.  When I plan a creative project, I start by researching on the Internet, in books, to see what has been already done with the idea that I have.  What techniques have already been used?  What innovations are others making with this medium? What parts of what I see do I want to borrow in my project?  Its like an immersion course in the idea.  I have a huge library of books -- historical books, art books, theological books, craft books, natural field guides and cook books.  I have a book case just devoted to fiber arts  -- hand spinning, weaving, knitting, felting, natural and chemical dyeing and basket weaving.  As I plan a new project, I take a deep breath, and dive into the books looking for ideas, culture, history, and aesthetics.  Creative people need to love books.

2.   Its important to hold your breath.  Once I've immersed myself in the idea, looking at it from different angles, I leave it alone.  Like holding your breath, I write a few notes or sketch a few diagrams. Sometimes I'll write a quote or two, into my journal.  It looks like I'm not working.  It feels like I'm not working, while I allow my mind play with it, think about it.  I may work on other projects.  I keep the journal close and add notes when more information surfaces, but I hold the thoughts for a few days, or weeks, while they germinate and begin to grow.   Like holding your breath, creative people need time to think and imagine, to work out solutions to perceived problems.

3.  Its important to exhale slowly.  When I begin work on a new project its like exhaling.  I gather my materials, pick a time when I can work uninterrupted and I can think holistically and I begin the project, keeping the journal handy.  Often at times like this the creative flow strikes and the temptation is to rush through and "conqueror the project" -- like a big sigh.  But when I remember to slowly exhale, and methodically enjoy the deep satisfaction of creative work the project goes more smoothly and it is more aesthetically pleasing. Creative work is more satisfying when we remember to savour the moments of creativity.  -- And it saves frogging a design later, or forgetting to write down an instruction.

4.  Breath in deeply again.  Part way through the initial stages of a creative project, its a good idea to look back through the notes and check out the innovations that others have made in the same medium.  I check out Face book, blogs, websites and magazines for more ideas once I make a good start on a project.  I like  to see what fresh ways that others are using the medium, or finding solutions to problems I might encounter in the design process.  It gives me renewed energy to bring the project to completion.  This is especially important if I am working on a series.  Its easy for me to lose momentum after the first of several similar projects are completed and I can see my ideas in material culture.  Seeing what others have already done helps me keep my focus and gives me new energy to complete the work.  Creative people need the fresh energy that looking at the innovative work of others brings.

5.  Exhale slowly again.  Finishing a project is like exhaling.  You pour out your energy, love, emotions into your work, and finish it for an audience or a buyer.  But a creative person needs to breath in and out, in and out -- to begin another project and see it completed.  There may be many unfinished projects in the project bag but each one is at a different stage -- breathing in, holding your breath or exhaling slowly.  The creative life is a satisfying life.  Keep breathing.

Back to you:
What kind of books, articles or experiences allow you to breath deeply and energize your creativity?
When you feel stifled in your creativity what do you do to breath fresh air and start the creative wind blowing again?

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