Sunday Ramblings: Creativity Marinate

“How am I going to answer questions about creativity creatively?

I hardly reread my stories once they are published but I was going through them the other day and found a good handful that could do with some more ‘stewing’. I have been reading a few articles on the subject of writer’s block, and the writing processes lately and came across one quote that I had shared on our Tumblr. Douglas Rushkoff’s quote ends with this: “Real creativity transcends time. If you are not producing work, then chances are you have fallen into the infinite space between the ticks of the clock where reality is created. Don’t let some capitalist taskmaster tell you otherwise — even if he happens to be in your own head.”

There are times when I push myself to finish stories and I get real impatient with myself when I can’t think of anything good, or the things that come out are crap. It is rather frustrating but what I realised over time that stories need time to stew for a bit so I need to let it marinate, and cook. Creativity is not just about producing is it? It has a lot to do with observing, absorbing, relating, connecting, feeling, and crafting. And then you need to inject some sort of soul, give it life, so the creation can stand alone, without its creator, sometimes even forgetting its creator and just be.

I wanted to have a little email conversation with one of our newest contributors Alexandra Hemrick who has her own blog called OriginalTitle and an Etsy page where she sells some of her original pieces. She has given WritersClub some new colour with her culture column that comes out on Saturdays. Being a ‘creative type’ herself we decided to talk about creativity and the creative processes so I asked her a few questions to which she gave some thought to (her answers are in italics):

“Creativity is the process of making unexpected connections and bringing together in a way that bonds them in the larger universe.”

What do you think creativity means?

About three seconds after Raina asked me to contribute on this topic, I decided I hated questions. This is part of the reason why the conversation was a bit one-sided for the greater part of the week. I’ve been trying to convince myself all week that I don’t hate the prompt, but I do. Here’s why: The query asks me to define creativity which flies directly in the face of creativity itself. I thought to myself (in my own head for far too long while Raina waited for my reply), “How am I going to answer questions about creativity creatively?” But you just can’t do that. Stripping away the categories, connections, and labels that society has pressed upon our perspective is what happens when you enter the deep trance of creative thought or creation.

It’s easy to do, but a lot of people mistake creativity as being found in the product or the end result, the actual product we create is only “creative” for a moment before society takes a hold of it and forces a fit or function upon it. Creativity is the process of making unexpected connections and bringing together in a way that bonds them in the larger universe. It makes the invisible spidery-thread holding our universe together more visible each time someone enters the creative realm of their mind. It’s as if the frames of the present are slowed down to such a pace that you can see new frames, ones that aren’t visible when the film plays before your eyes. The scratches, the floating particles, the micro-expression hidden by the actor, they’re all easy to see when the creative process is working in one’s mind. I suppose it’s a form of hallucinogenic and it often feels that way.

“I think we’re all creative. It’s a lie when people say they aren’t. They are just too scared to fail.”

Why and how did you figure out you were “creative”? 

I’ve spent my entire life trying to figure out what was wrong with me and finally realized that nothing was wrong with me, I was just seeing frames that others couldn’t see. I moved at a snail’s pace through life so I wouldn’t miss a thing. Others sped by and gawked at my peddling from the front seat of their Porsche. I read, I ‘taught’ visual art, I watched my kids as they created and I slowed while I brainstormed and there it was: creativity. The answer to my lifelong disenchantment.

Everyone is so concerned with failing and I always embraced it. Creativity is a risk. It’s creating a poem about being “trapped inside a glass box,” when you’re 8 before you knew why or when your family would fall apart and your mom throwing it away because it had seen the frames in between. It had spoken the truth everyone else missed. Everyone is so concerned with “being positive” or “keeping it light,” and I detested such a mindset. Sometimes the frames in between are a little dusty but it makes such a unique picture to frame.

I think we’re all creative. It’s a lie when people say they aren’t. They are just too scared to fail.

What are your creative processes?

After a prolonged bout of silent sitting and careful observation, many words and images flood the page in all directions. The tacking of post-it notes and aimless imagery onto the board of my mind is the most fun. There’s no purpose, there isn’t a goal. Just pure percolation of ideas. Then the process of creation begins and ideas catapult towards one another at breakneck speeds until they collide, break apart and then are rebuilt into a newer, better model. Finally they are put into some kind of creation which completely breaks the cycle of creativity, because once it’s ‘done,’ it can be defined and categorized and thrust onto a particular wall in a particular place or a blank page of a bound book.

“Embrace complete an utter failure along with a healthy dose of what most would consider laziness.”

How can we nurture creativity?

Embrace complete an utter failure along with a healthy dose of what most would consider laziness. Allow children to read for as long as they want. Give choices with limits instead of ultimatums. Try not to push the idea that ‘rainy days are bad,’ and ‘sunny days are good, for one example of a long list harbored in my mind from childhood. Refrain from separating the arts, each discipline can mate to create beautiful progeny. Creativity does not have to happen on a page. When we stop telling kids to get a “real job,” or to be “sensible,” people will not lock away the creative side of the brain and might perhaps stop flogging it in secret every time they try to “create” something in order to be “creative,” because they might be able to just BE creative. 

(The last picture is one of Alex’s original pieces entitled Morning Coffee, click on the picture to go to her Etsy page for others.)

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