Sunday, 29 June 2008

Overcoming Avoidance

Creative Avoidance is a normal part of the creative person’s life. It presents itself in many ways, and until we get to know ourselves well in the creative process, we may not recognise it very well as it can be quite subtle! Mostly though, we can identify our avoidance tactics by realising that we haven’t got on with our project as we planned and we can’t see a good reason why.

But it’s ok because once we are aware of our tactics, we can choose to say no to them, and get on with our plan. By the way, these tactics can range from re-sharpening your entire colour pencil set to taking up a job you said you’d never do!

This main thing to remember is that avoidance in creativity exists, and we should allow it to exist because from time to time you will be able to analyse it to find out what exactly you are avoiding. That reason could be anything from boredom to a particularly difficult problem. Once the self awareness is switched on, you can take steps to resolve the avoidance issue. Things that help are:

  • Patience with yourself
  • Allowing, not forcing the project to grow
  • Nurturing your creative side
  • Keeping attentive to your environment
  • Keeping in touch with other creative people
  • Understanding your personal concept of success
  • Allowing yourself free time
  • Walking through the experience
  • Feeling the fear and doing it anyway

Whatever happens, be resourceful so that you can find solutions to problems at every stage. Often the life of a creative person can be isolating and it’s important to remain connected to the community of your speciality. Remember, most of all, we all have the answers to our difficulties at our fingertips and it’s up to us to choose the path of solution. Working SMART (previous blog) will help you to self-coach your way to the answers and method to achieve your goal.

Good luck, and I'll see you in 2 weeks, where we'll tackle a tricky subject - the perception of success.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Express Yourself!

This week I draw upon artist Ian Roberts’s wisdom and vision. I can’t put it better than this so I'll use direct quotes. Enjoy his words of truth and encouragement.

In a great book entitled Creative Authenticity, artist Ian Roberts (Ian Roberts website) talks about just jumping in, fears and all, to express ourselves.
"Ultimately, it doesn't matter to the world whether you paint or dance or write," says Roberts. "The world will probably get by without the product of your efforts. But that is not the point. The point is what the inner process of following your creative impulses will do to you. It is clearly about process. Love the work, love the process. Our fascination will pull our attention forward. That, also, will fascinate the viewer."
Roberts explores a number of principles essential for creative authenticity.
  • Searching for beauty. Beauty is something that seizes your attention, stops you in your tracks, and silences you. It can be the way light filters through the trees in your backyard or the magnificence of a fifteenth century Italian painting. The subject is irrelevant; it is only a vehicle for your attention, to engage the intensity of your feelings. That intensity is what viewers ultimately respond to.
  • Communication. Creativity fundamentally involves expressive power; it is the catching of the "gleams of light" that flash across our mind and forming that vision into something.
  • Your home turf. It could be a garden. Or a studio. But you need a creative home base that always stays open for your arrival and bestows on you a readiness to begin your work.
  • The Van Gogh syndrome. Don't buy into the myth that creativity is the province of tortured geniuses.
  • Your craft, your voice. Practice, practice, practice your craft. It gives you fluency in the creative process and in technique. It's technique that gives life to your creative ideas. Learning your craft opens the channel for your voice to flow.
  • Showing up. "Nothing determines your creative life more than doing it," says Roberts.
  • The dance of avoidance. Starting is always a psychologically messy process, because there are no rules surrounding what you want to do. Setting up a dedicated space for the practice of your craft helps you shift gears directly into your creative process.
  • Full-time or part-time. You can't expect to fly consistently at a high level of inspiration.
  • Follow something along. If you are going to say something authentic, you need to stick with an idea for a while, an idea that has personal resonance.
  • Wagon train and scout. Creativity involves the interplay between where you are and where you see yourself going to keep your expression growing. Always be on the lookout for new paths, and observe how others solve the problems you face.
  • Working method. Creativity is in the process, not in the finished results.
  • Limits yield intensity. Unrestrained freedom is a myth, and it's not productive.
  • Being ready to show. Don't spend your time marketing your creations. If you spend it creating, you are investing your work with the authenticity that will draw others to your efforts...
  • You are more than creative enough. The question is not whether you are creative enough but whether you will free yourself to express it.
  • Finding poetry in the everyday. Develop the power to see the ordinary as poetic.
  • Holding the big picture. Always keep a sense of the whole. That commits you to making the moves that will ultimately represent what you see.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Expansion Not Distraction

Ok, so now you’ve taken a fancy to something extra to your usual creative projects and a sense of guilt or confusion sets in…Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Be reassured that you are expanding your creativity, not being distracted from your main focus.

Today’s blog comes in response to something Richard, my hubby, said this morning that rang a bell in me, and I know it will strike a chord with many people reading this. He is a very talented man - he is a great bass player, sound engineer and IT project manager/coach. He recently left the IT world to concentrate on being a live recording sound engineer, but also got into 2 cracking live bands and is also interested in teaching bass. Now he’s concerned that not focussing on one of these activities will be a detriment to the others. NOT TRUE! Some people are best at living a highly varied life, and some are better concentrating on just one thing. Unfortunately, we are ALL socialised to concentrate on one thing!!! We are encouraged in school to streamline and become the best in that field. That is just fine of course, but we have to be open to being just as able to do more than one thing and do them all really well too.

While you are doing something else you are expanding on your current expertise and natural talents. Other types of creativity and studies will almost certainly rub off and even help you solve problems better in your main centre of attention. It can really help encourage a sense of wholesome satisfaction in your life when you expand your horizons.

The key is the understanding and being honest with own self. Creating a sensible life balance, time management system, and realistic goal setting is also essential of course.

Next time you take a fancy to trying out something new remember to say to yourself, “This is expansion, not distraction.” You are then giving yourself permission to explore this area freely and without guilt.

Go for it!

Have a good week :) this is taking a risk!!!


Sunday, 1 June 2008

Scratching the Itch

When something we desire keeps reminding, demanding attention, of us on a frequent basis, we often say, “I’m itching to do so and so,” Often we will put barriers up to scratching this itch by making excuses – many of them perfectly legitimate. But if we really analysed the reasons not to do something, we will find that a large percentage are to do with fear, insecurity and lack of confidence. The power of the mind is great and works in many positive and negative ways. Sometimes we can easily rationalise reasons for not pursuing something, even if it’s dear to our hearts. When it comes to creativity, we often deny ourselves of something really special without realising it.

So my message today is to really think about scratching the itch to do something. Put aside the reasons not to do it, and just do it. No-one has to know that you’ve just taken up knitting, patchwork, painting with oils, clay modelling, paper mache or anything else creative. It may be that you’ve been a watercolour artist for years and years and fancy taking up sculpture – there’s never a good time as the present! We are never too old, too silly, too uneducated, too busy or too scared to try something new or even re-take up something old. If you need practical inspiration, read some of my older posts for some ideas about how to get in the right frame of mind. Research some of your deeper questions on the internet or from valuable books (I have listed a few in the right hand column).

You deserve to scratch that itch and make yourself feel better. Adventure on out of your bubble to experience new enthusiasm, creativity, happiness, satisfaction and peace of mind.

So go on – Scratch that Itch!

Creative Blessings

Above pebble painting: Autumn Sumac © 2007 Deborah Eileen Burrow