creativity

Why aren’t you listening to this?

earSometimes we need to hear something at the right time for it to click. Here are two things I listened to recently that I had to share with you and I hope it falls on your ears at the right time as well.

In this brief, one-minute illustration, Ira Glass speaks of the difficult growth processes of creativity. What he says is so obvious and true but I never thought of it that way.

Are you done watching it? Great! What did you think about it?

Next up, is a podcast my friend, Tricia recommended. A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment is by Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter, two accomplished and incredible authors. I loved hearing their candid view of the creative struggle and their vulnerability in sharing works in progress. The episodes are about an hour long, but well worth it.

I’ve been slow to jump on the podcast bandwagon but I’m starting to appreciate them. (In case you’re not familiar with the term, a podcast is simply a recording online. They’re usually free to listen to or you can pay to download them).

Do you have any podcasts you’d recommend? What do you like about them?

Should I advertise?

Main building at the Maryland Institute Colleg...

Main building at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I studied art at Maryland Institute College of Art, the biggest insult you could say about an artist was that s/he was “too commercial.” The thought of someone actually getting paid for their handwork and creativity seemed to contradict the very nature of art. We were all supposed to starve and wallow in obscurity for the next fifty years. The only acceptable way to become famous was postmortem.

Seven years out of college (oy has it really been that long!), I’m amazed by my friends who have found work that involves some sort of creativity. It doesn’t matter that they’re making art for commercial sake, in fact, it seems even more incredible that they are making good money expressing themselves.  My classmates are making jewelry, designing video games, and photographing models for national magazines. I look back on our snobby, self-righteous younger-selves and wonder how we could ever be so judgmental of people who love art but don’t want to be homeless.

Recently I’ve been approached by a few companies who want to advertise on my blog. When I originally started the HeSoProject, I was so ignorant about the entire blogging process that I figured I would write a few posts, and then live off the advertisement money. Ha! If these companies had approached me back then I would have said yes in a heartbeat. Now, two years into it, I’m slightly hesitant. The HeSoProject is my baby, and I don’t want to dilute it with distracting, false messages. (Currently WordPress puts up ads at the bottom of some posts, but that doesn’t really bother me because it’s part of the free service.)

My inner-college student is yelling “don’t sell out,” but my dwindling bank account is a little louder. Do you, my awesome reader, have any thoughts on the matter?

Disposable creativity

“Many of us wish we were more creative. many of us sense we are more creative, but unable to effectively tap that creativity. Our dreams elude us. Our lives feel somehow flat. Often, we have great ideas, wonderful dreams, but are unable to actualize them for ourselves. Sometimes we have specific creative longings we would love to be able to fulfill – learning to play the piano, painting, taking an acting class, or writing. Someimes our goal is more diffuse. We hunger for what might be called creative living – an expanded sense of creativity in our business lives, in sharing with our children, our spouse, our friends.”

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way (pg.5)

If you haven’t read The Artist’s Way yet, for gosh sake just click on this link and buy it already. Every creative person I know attributes the growth of their creativity to this book. I’m not over-exaggerating. And if you’ve been following the HeSo project for a while now, you’ll remember that when I interviewed Lisa Bourque, a fabulous life coach, she said the book changed her life.

It is Julia Cameron’s opinion that everyone has the potential to be creative and that creativity is a like a muscle that grows the more you use it. Creativity is not just for the arts; it can be used to improve your outlook on life, the way you problem solve, or handle your relationships.

One of her famous exercises is “the morning pages.” The first thing you do every morning is fill three pages of paper. There’s really no wrong way of doing this. If you have nothing to say you can fill the pages with a grocery list.

Sometimes the pages become very negative and your “censor” comes out. Your censor is that voice in your head that tells you everything you do is garbage. Julia suggests that it’s better to let the censor out on these pages so it gets exhausted and won’t distract you when you want to do something more creative and challenging. It sounds silly but when I dabbled with the morning pages before, it really did help me feel more free and confident when I was working on my creative writing later on in the day.

My boyfriend has been doing these morning pages for over a year now (way to go Mike!) The pages have taken many twists and turns for him. They started off as an outlet for his censor, then they became an outlet for his story telling, and now he’s using that time to compose music – something that he’s always wanted to do. Sometimes what we always want to do is the hardest thing to do because we give it so much weight. We think, to do that something poorly would be worse than not doing it at all. By using the morning pages to compose he’s getting the practice he needs without the debilitating pressure to produce something “good.”

Lately I’ve been feeling like there’s a void in my life. The BeddyBye project felt very exciting and creative at first, but now as I’m talking to safety commissioners, manufacturers, and parenting associations (I’ll write more about this later) I’ve entered the more taxing, stressful part of the project. I write a lot for this blog, but it’s not the same as creative writing, something I’ve loved doing since childhood (I remember writing stories about how I was born on Mars and raised by apes. I made photocopies and tried to sell them to the kids on my block. I guess I invented vanity publishing!). So I decided to instill some creativity back into my life and embrace the morning pages again.

I started this past Friday. In the morning, before breakfast I spent 30 minutes writing a short story. I used The Writer’s Toolbox for inspiration. The Author, Jamie Cat Callan, offers a bunch of suggestions for first lines. I picked a random one and started writing. The opening line was: “Dad gave me a wink, like we were pals or something.” I ended up writing about a daughter finding out that her parents have had an open marriage for her entire life and she’s just now meeting her father’s girlfriend of 16 years. I don’t know where that idea came from, and for the life of me I would never have thought it up if I just sat at my computer and tried to come up with a story.

The exercise helps you to see that everyone has a wealth of untapped imagination inside them and you just need a safe place to let it out. Knowing that I didn’t need to complete the story, and that it didn’t need to be part of something greater was liberating. It’s what I like to call disposable creativity. I know that sounds terrible, especially in our green-conscience society, but looking at creativity like it’s a finite resource is not productive. I’ve been in many writing classes where people hold on to stories that aren’t working, and I think it’s because they’re scared they won’t be able to come up with anything else, when that’s simply not true.

Today was my fourth day of morning pages and I’m going to continue for at least 17 more days (research shows it only takes 21 days to form a habit). Does anyone else want to join me? It doesn’t need to be writing, you can start every morning strumming a song on the guitar, drawing a picture, or dancing. The point is to start every day off in a creative, non-judgmental fashion. I guarantee you’ll feel more creative and excited for the rest of the day! If you join the challenge send me some of your work or your reflections and I’ll add it to the blog!

Inspiration

Here are two things that have inspired me recently:

Is it bad that I get teary eyed whenever I read this? There was a similar poster at Marshals and I actually started crying in the middle of the store after reading it. But then again, I cry when the deli guy puts ketchup on my egg sandwich, so I guess my tears are cheap.

Success

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed

often, and loved much;

Who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect

of intelligent men, and the love of little children;

Who has filled his niche and accomplished  his task;

Who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty or

failed to express it;

Who has left the world better than he found it.

Whether an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or

a rescued soul;

Who has always  looked for the best in others and given them the best he had;

Whose life is an inspiration;

Whose memory is a benediction.

– Elisabeth-Anne Anderson Stanley

I can stop blogging ’cause she just said everything I needed to say. Oh well. I guess I’ll keep going.

I hope you stumble upon some inspiration today 🙂