Thursday, July 23, 2009

How do you keep the creative fire burning?


I find the creative process to be a fragile place between the conscious and the unconscious. Sometimes I have intensely creative periods and then periods of lower energy, where I still love painting, but the energy behind a series of paintings begins to dissipate.

The composer John Adams said in an interview on CBC radio that he doesn't wait for the Muse to come to him, he improvises and then inspiration comes to him.

My process is similar and yet my own. I keep working even when I find the energy is letting go of a series I've been working on. But there comes a time, as I keep working, when I get a flash of a new idea, maybe in a dream, or just as a clear thought.

I have artist friends who seem to work steadily at their painting with no diminution of their energy. As an outsider looking on, it appears that they have consistent energy in their work from one year to the next. Part of me envies this consistency. Part of me knows that I am not like that and I need to work in my own way.

Besides continuing to work, or 'improvise', when I am in an in-between cycle, I find I am more open to receiving inspiration around me.
Here are a few ways I try to open to inspiration.
Mostly I find if I can quiet my mind, a space is opened.

1.Go for long walks in nature or go and sit in the woods. I am lucky to have woods behind my house so I can sit there often.

2.Meditate. I learned a form of active visual meditation many years ago that really works well for me.

3.Swim. That's my favorite activity and I find, like walking it calms my mind so that new light can come in.

4. I mow my lawn on my riding lawnmower. No kidding. This is one of the best ways to zone out. My earplugs are in, I can't answer emails or phone calls, and I have to focus but not. I guess it's like doing dishes by hand or washing the floor. Mundane repetitive tasks are really excellent for quieting the mind.

5. Tai Chi. I started Tai Chi a year ago and still can't do the 108 moves by myself. So I keep attending classes and following the others. But it is phenomenal at making me focus.

6. Listen to CBC radio, especially Tapestry with Mary Hines, the Sunday program that focuses on the spiritual. Or, "Writers and Company", with Eleanor Wachtel. Listening to such inspirational interviews is good for the heart and the mind.

7. I love reading poetry from time to time, most especially Mary Oliver. But I also love and continue to read Rumi and Rilke.

8. I also love the occasional inspirational quote, which I then write down and keep in my file of ...you guessed it, "Inspirational Quotes".

Here is the quote which I have been rereading lately:

"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action; and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. You must keep that channel open. It is not for you to determine how good it is, nor how valuable. Nor how it compares with other expressions. It is for you to keep it yours, clearly and directly." Martha Graham

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