Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Thoughts on Phases of Creativity

Since I've beentapping into my creative well over the last four plus years in an intentional manner I have noticed different stages of creativity and production. In speaking to other creative people I found many share these same stages.

There is a time when there are many ideas and just not enough time to do them all. "Real life" gets in the way of me doing things that I'd otherwise be doing if there were no pressures to do something like say, parent my children, homeschool them, or do extended family obligation things.

During times of tremendous output, there can be two types. One is when many things are started or being worked on simultaneously. That is very exciting because working on all of them is so exciting that I cannot choose to focus on just one. That is okay because it is so fulfilling to work on a variety of things that I feel no negative feelings about concentrating on just one or just working to finish just one thing. The other type is when I am very focused and motivated to finish one project and put all my available time to that one pursuit.

In the output times my mind is almost closed off to optional input things. For example if I am knitting a ton I don't want to read about knitting. Or if I am doing a lot of drawing I don't want to look at what artists have drawn (i.e. on blogs or in books). When I am busy with projects I don't want to read art and craft magazines that tell of yet more projects.

I will admit that when my muse is with me I have been known to put off some optioanl things like deep cleaning housework or I let little things slide.

After working on a certain projet or numerous projects of the same type on numerous days it can suddenly turn boring. At that time also it can start to bother me that I have neglected some things, and it bothers me that clutter piles are in the kitchen, or that I really finally should hand scrub the shower stall. So at those times I buckle down and attend to various 'real world' duties.

There is a stage when I have no desire to work on projects. Those are input times when I crave inspiration. I start noticing things when out driving, like the play of a shadow on the ground, blossoms on a tree, or see shapes in the clouds. That is when I read art and craft books and magazines. That is the time when I do major blog and web surfing to see what others are doing.

After much input, I start to come up with unique ideas (I don't just copy what others do).

At some times, such as when I am away traveling, certain types of trips don't allow me any time to do any kind of creative work. There are truly times when I can't even squeeze in sketchig in an art journal. Sometimes I have no compute and can't write anything. After about four days I start to get very antsy. I crave to be able to produce something. That is when I will start writing by hand into a notebook, or sketching on the paper napkin at the restaurant, or join my kids in drawing on the children's menu/placemat. If I have a camera with me I start to take many photographs. I can't help myself. I often then will start craving to do my regular art projects at home. Sometimes I do take art supplies with me but the place I'm staying or the relatives on vacation with me prohibit me the freedom to 'mess up the space' or to just be left alone to create a little bit.

There are certain times when I am very busy with appointments. In that time the necessary appointments must be dealt with and so whatever my muse is doing or whatever my desire is must be placed on hold. If three or more days go where I am running around like a nut and have no free moments to create I get antsy and edgy and it is uncomfortable feeling. Also in that category is when I have a minor illness or when my children are sick and need my attention. My muse is definately not with me when I'm sick or overtired from tending to sick kids.

Lately my life has been pretty calm so when some small problem happens it disrupts and I can't create. However when I was living with daily stress from major life challenges, I was able to create and I used it as a stress reliever. Often making art or crafting or writing for this blog was my therapy that kept me sane and kept me calm in the midst of the storm. So I now feel that for some people art is inspired by stress and problems and it can be helpul and theraputic, yet at other times when life is calm and creativity flows in the peaceful times, small stressful events disrupt and interfere. It is interesting to realize that dichotomy can exist.

I separate writing on the computer and other art and craft projects for me. I think that the reason I separate the two is because (unlike some other mothers) I somehow have trained my children to accept that I do use my computer and that I am to be left alone while at it, to a certain extent. I am overjoyed that my kids will leave me alone for an hour or two to do whatever I want on the computer. Their long attention spans for free play and the fact that they do some of their homeschooling completely by themselves helps (especially the reading educational books to themselves silently assignments). Also I can sometimes write when my husband cooks dinner and cleans up after dinner. I can and do also write early in the morning when my kids are still asleep. I am not a night owl on the computer and I'm not a writing night owl either. I am able to get into 'flow' when writing very easily. I have learned to tune out external noise like my husband's cable news channel watching and the happy chatter of my boys.

When I am doing something like drawing, journaling by hand, making collages and other things it is harder to find a time and place to be left alone enough to get that done.

I knit and embroider and needle felt usually when watching TV with my kids or by myself late into the night when everyone else is asleep. I knit while sitting in doctor's office waiting rooms and other 'waiting times'.

I have never felt what some call creative block or writer's block. Perhaps when people say they have that they are not in what I've called an 'output stage' and instead are craving input and inspiration. Instead of viewing that time as a 'dry spell' of not being able to produce or not having new ideas, or feeling bored, I call that stage the time when the creative well needs filling. To fill the well, I find a break from that activity is called for and inputting with external influences whether it be from viewing nature or seeing a museum art display or watching a documentary about art or an artist or reading a book or magazine about art.

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