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HOW TO BE CREATIVE

It just came to me.

I typed the title of this essay and now I must wait, yet press on. 

Contrary to common belief, creativity will not be disrespected.  You can’t just do it.  Well, you can, but you’ll end up with a mess.

By the way, there’s nothing wrong with a mess.  A mess can actually be the beginning of something spectacular.  More on that in a moment.

My first memorable encounter with creativity came when I was a kid.  I must have been around seven or eight years old.  I recall visiting the Guggenheim Museum and looking at those spectacular Mondrian, Kandinsky and Picasso paintings while taking that upward and downward spiral walk through Frank Lloyd Wright’s concrete concoction.  At that time, I didn’t have the words, but I somehow knew that this experience would shape who I was meant to be.

And so, here I am, decades later, paying creative tribute to the creativity and creation that played a role in creating the person who is creating the recipe of words that are gracing – I hope – this page.

Creativity is such an individual thing, but it’s universal in the sense that we all have it. It’s within us and it’s dying to come forth.  We have to honor it.  We cannot dismiss or ignore it or push it down within ourselves and expect there will be no price to be paid.  Oh, you’ll pay.  Have you checked your blood pressure lately?  How’s that ulcer coming along?

And with that, dear friend, I write these words.  Isn’t it time?  Aren’t you ready for the time of your life? 

First, you have to believe.  You have to believe in a Creator and in creativity.  You have to believe that you were created for a reason much higher than you could possibly imagine.  Then you have to believe that you have the same power that created you. 

Yes, it’s a leap of faith.  That’s what makes it so dicey ... and fun.  So many people are unwilling to do it.  They’re afraid.  They need “proof.”  I say proof … shmoof.

Just let go.

Also, you have to get quiet.  Not necessarily in a quiet place, although that helps, but quiet within yourself.  I’ve had some of the most creative moments within myself amid noise and clutter.  However, it’s best to be quiet and alone as I am now. 

I’m sitting here in my den surrounded by original works of art from artists I know.  Putting yourself in an already creative environment helps like you cannot possibly imagine.  It’s an osmosis thing, I think.  You’ve got to respect creativity. 

Once alone, you must focus.  I am focusing right now.  What do I want to say?  What do I want to express?  What IS it?  And then, you sit and you channel.  You literally channel.  You call it forth.  You bring the words or the music or the painting on canvas TO YOU.

I don’t mean this in a crazy, spooky way.  I mean this in a way that actually brings it into your life.  It’s called imagination.  In fact, I think when you take inspiration and imagination and you sit down and actually harness them through perspiration, that’s when creativity flows like a faucet.  You can barely turn it off in those moments.

But you MUST respect the process.  The moment that your ego kicks in or that you think you’re in control, it vanishes.  This is where that all-important faith comes in.  You must trust.  Trust keeps the whole thing going.  You must trust that something larger than you is making this all happen. 

You are simply the vessel.  Nothing more, nothing less.  And you must remain in a psychological, spiritual, emotional and intellectual state where you’re equally willing to share and give away what’s been given to you.  None of this is yours.  It’s all cosmic energy that flows and goes.

This sounds so artsy-fartsy, but I don’t mean it that way.  I’m telling you, this is actually what I do myself.  I’m doing it right now here with you and it’s working like a charm … if I do say so myself.

So often, people ask, “How Long Did It Take You To Do That?”  What they don’t realize is that question totally disrespects the process.  When you’re in a creative zone, you don’t CARE how long it takes.  Do you know why?

Because you’re lost in the process.  If you’re doing it right, you almost lose track of the time … in the moment.  Hours have gone by and there you still are, doing your thing.  All of that time passed feels like a single, creative moment.

It’s like a gift, this gift of creativity.  You’re grateful that you created it, but you know full well that you had help.  It wasn’t just you doing it.  God was running the show with the angel-muses hovering all about.

This applies to everything that we create.  Different vehicle, different backdrop, but same process.  That’s the beauty of it. 

The really cool thing about creativity is that you can indeed become a master.  You can learn to master your own process.  This doesn’t mean that the work gets easier, it means that you’ve developed the self-discipline necessary to put yourself in the zone and bring forth whatever is meant to be through your efforts.

Creativity is no joke.  You must respect it.

And then, there’s love.  You have to love it.  Love always shows up in the finished product. 

My departed grandmother, Rose Evelyn Childers used to make some of the most lopsided, ill-conceived cakes you’ve ever seen.  I remember eating them as a kid.  We would always laugh at what she had created, but when we ate them … the comedy became sheer joy.  Mama – she refused to be called ‘Grandma’ – made some of the most delicious cakes I’ve ever had … even all the way up until today.

It’s such a cliché to say this, but I really do believe that Mama made those cakes with … love.  I know, I know.  This is making we want to throw up, but I really do think there’s something to it.

Anyway, enough of that.

It takes a village to create a masterwork … a village of beliefs, ideas, devices and plain ole hard work to make it happen.  Oh yes, and you simply have to leave the outcome in the hands of divine providence.

When I’m writing, I always have an idea about what I want to say, but once the process begins, something takes over.  I had no idea that I’d be typing these very words until a few seconds ago.  And now, here they are.  They are reality on what was an empty page.

And this is where gratitude comes in.  You absolutely MUST cultivate a gracious spirit.  You must be thankful for everything, including the obstacles and barriers because they too are part of the creative process.  It all works together on the pathway of a masterwork.  You must constantly give thanks so that the creative blessings will continue.

One final thing.  In order to be creative, you must be willing to make a mess of things.  This doesn’t have to be the case, but it often is.  You put something together, stand back and realize you’ve got a big, steaming pile of cow dung on your hands.  It happens.

This is when you walk away and come back later.  You’ve laid the groundwork.  The template is right there before you, but it’s going to take time.  God himself didn’t create the universes in one day.

There’s something of great value in the mess you’ve made, you just have to adjust and re-focus yourself.  It’s almost always about self-correction and the mood of the moment … oh yes, and trusting in that greater power.

Creativity is always in the air, you just have to harness it.  I would argue that most of the time, creativity is not neat and tidy.  It’s a mess, a beautiful mess.  We just have to make sense of it.  We have to orchestrate it … just like a conductor.

Well, there you have it.  That’s how to be creative.  Being creative is not for the lazy or the faint of heart.  It takes guts. It takes brains.  It takes heart.

Most of all, it takes time.  And if you’re really doing it right, time will slip away and you’ll find yourself blissfully lost …

… Yet found.     

 

 

Content Is Breathing



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