I was actually searching YouTube for something completely different and I stumbled across this Ted talk about artistic flow. It resonated with me, so this is going to be a permanent addition to my Ted Talk collection .
From where do our ideas for creative endeavors come? I think our inspiration comes from our interaction with the world around us — the natural world and the people in it. From those sources we extract portions, break them up, shuffle them around, ponder and consider, scrap them all and start again– until we come up with some sort of creative prompt and subsequent product.
I know I like to think that any creative idea I have came from some deep well of inspiration within me. Maybe it does, but I also know that this well of inspiration consistently needs to be filled with memories of the experiences I have with the exterior world. There are only two activities from The Artist’s Way that I have found useful. One of them is the “Artist’s Date” (the other is writing every day). I try to go somewhere or engage in some sort of activity either by myself or with other people that will fill that well. Since I spend so much time drumming, cooking, gardening and engaging in reflective self-care activities, my writing and image-making often engage those themes.
Maybe we mere-mortal creatives re-purpose other ideas gathered from our worldly roamings, but what about those individuals whom we credit for inventing lofty ideas and devices that have had profound impacts on the world? Archimedes, Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, DaVinci, Shakespeare, Locke, Curie, Tesla, Einstein? Where did those ideas come from? If you look at some of them who we consider “geniuses”, most of them were philosophers and scientists. What do they have in common? I don’t know about all of them, but I know some of them kept notebooks where they worked on their ideas, no doubt drawing from the same sources that you and I do: the external world. In fact, I think Plato is the guy who came up with the notion that there is a place where everything in the world has an Ideal Form, a perfect Idea of it, and anything we create is merely a reflection of those ideals.
I propose that we can be just as inventive as these folks. The key is to take the ideas from the well and work and re-work and experiment and write and consider that work until we re-create something glorious on paper or canvas or film or device. They did. So can we.
I am just writing this off-the-top of my head. I am still working on this notion. I may re-work it again. That’s the point! Keep working until you get it “right” (or at least close to it).
Now get working. 🙂
ljg (c) 2019
I was orbiting the blogosphere this morning hoping to be inspired. (I feel the need to write some fiction). The Internet fairies took pity and sprinkled some magic dust on me, and I had an “aha” moment wherein I realized that instead of agonizing over coming up with something new that I could do what countless other writers and creators have done and retell a story from the Public Domain. From there I stumbled across this wonderful video by author Jill Williamson. She explains in detail what constitutes a work in the Public Domain and thus accessible for re-telling. I urge you to take a look. Now, I’m off to re-read some Homer and Grimm.
Some creatives have talismans in their creative spaces. Many an artist or writer will waste time in searching for that “right” object to serve this function and even more time arranging their spaces around the object. They do all of this instead of arting or writing. I know this because I spent time rearranging my “dream corner” and finding the right place to put my dream catcher.
Another time-waster of creatives is engaging in some sort of “ritual” before sitting down to work. They dim the lights, light candles, fondle the aforementioned talisman (I DON’T do that with my dream catcher), make a whole ceremony over making a pot of tea (or pouring a few fingers of Scotch), and so on.
Again, I am guilty of that myself. For example, this morning, instead of working in my sketchbook which I vowed to do every morning, I wasted time doing an inventory and making a swatch list of all my colored pencils. Seriously.
Now I know some creatives will argue that their talismans and rituals are vital to their work. Some see their work spaces and times as sacred and thus requiring such objects and actions to sanctify them. I get that. I do. To me, the act of creating is a calling, a vocation. You must treat the work with respect and awe.
But I know for myself that such things can be massive time-wasters. I may do them because I don’t want to face the blank page or empty canvas. I do them because I am just lazy and would rather screw around on Facebook than sit down and work. Sometimes, I know the work is going to bring up uncomfortable emotional baggage. Who wants to experience that? All of us, if we want to live out our calling as creatives.
Don’t let your time-wasters divert you into becoming a master of the fine art of procrastination.
ljgloyd (c) 2018
I went to the Hammer Museum last week and had a captivating time with some old friends: Rembrandt, van Gogh, Cassatt, Degas, and several others. My plan is to study these and use them as reference images as I work on improving my drawing skills.
Some helpful tips about sketchbooks.
Many years ago when I was studying art in school, a teacher at the time walked by my easel as I was working and said something to the effect, “You have such a painterly style.” I thought she just meant that I was applying paint like I was slopping it on a bedroom wall..
Yes, that’s pretty much my style.
Not surprisingly I have spent quite a bit of time studying the paintings of the Impressionists who were masters at the “painterly” style. The classical way of learning the fine arts was by copying the work of the old masters. When it comes to landscapes, I imitate Claude Monet; but when it comes to figures, Pierre-Auguste Renoir is my man.
Renoir was a master at using light, color, form, and just a touch of line to capture figures in a moment of time doing ordinary activities.
I just love his work. I hope my work does him justice.
As I stated in my Sunday post, I have stopped working the creativity recovery program I had started two months ago. I am sure this program and others like it work for a lot of people, but not for me. I encourage those individuals to keep working at it. As for me, I have another way.
The only thing that helps me to overcome a writing block is the physical act of writing. I write something everyday. Sometimes it is only in one of my journals. Sometimes it is just posting silliness on my Facebook page. Sometimes you get a blog post like this.
If you were to ask me my advice on writing, I would say:
1) Carry a journal and pen or an electronic device with a note-taking program with you AT ALL TIMES;
2) once a day in the journal or on the device, write one sentence that is an observation of something around you or in your life. Just one sentence. It can even be one word;
3) then try for a second sentence;
4) and then a third;
5) and keep writing sentences until no more come.
6) You will end up with at least one sentence a day. Add them all up and you will have at least 365 sentences. You will probably end up with a lot more. It is exponential once you are on a roll.
Then, if you do feel the need of some wisdom from those more experienced (and who doesn’t?), study your favorite writers. And if they have written books on writing, you have hit the jackpot.
Here is a list of my favorite books on writing. I refer to them often. Actually, most of the advice I give above are variations and paraphrases from some of these books.
Bird-by-Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King
Zen in the Art of Writing, by Ray Bradbury
Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg
Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life, by Natalie Goldberg
Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words, by Susan Goldsmith Woolridge.
Now, get off-line and write. 🙂
Obligatory Disclaimer: I did not receive any of these books from the publishers. I bought ’em all and I like ’em all. 🙂
I came across a site that I am adding to my list of resources: Magnetic Poetry. You’ve seen these before, I’m sure– those little magnets you move around ro make verses. You can fool around with this online now. From a little play session I derived this:
Drunk on catnip and instinct,
tortoiseshell goddess of the night,
you howl your lovesick love song
in a flood of full moonlight.
Your clowder of lovers
from my back fence leap
to worship your beauty
And rouse me from sleep.
Postscript: I thought the word “eat” in the image was “cat”. What a totally different poem I would have crafted if I had followed through on “eat”.
Besides actually writing, listening to other riders talk about their craft is another way to learn how to write. YouTube is a great resource for this. One of my favorite authors is Ray Bradbury, and he was particularly generous in giving interviews and talking about his process. Here is an 11 minute video of how conceived and wrote Fahrenheit 451 .