Tracking Personal Change: A different perspective on my creativity

by phil on Monday Dec 22, 2008 10:57 PM

My favorite personal insight I got from the MAPP Career Assessment Test is this comment on creativity:

Perception triggers ideas in Phil's mind, a process that just happens - a process often called intuition. It is not a conscious effort to logically "come up with" creative ideas; instead, the process is best identified with the statement that "a thought struck me." A quote by Carl Jung probably makes complete sense to Phil: "Art is innate in the artist, like an instinct that seizes and makes a tool out of the human being. The thing in the final analysis that wills something in him is not he, the personal man, but the aim of the art."

I've had a lot of starts and stops in trying to apply myself creatively. What started everything was my first painting. Creating that, out of nowhere, inspired me to paint professionally. So I set out to develop a portfolio first, but I found the process like pulling teeth. I struggled to re-create the same conditions and experience that made my first painting so magical, but only a few of them came close. After a while, I threw the brush away and told myself, "this isn't even fun anymore."

Blogging also posed a similar challenge in writing. When I first started blogging, I was excited by the idea, that at last, I had found an enjoyable way to be creative that I could make into a career. So I set out to write essays and short stories, but alas, the words came out unnaturally.

I thought something was wrong with me, and I stressed myself out trying to correct this problem. I went through all these creativity books, like the The Artist's Way, or having a misguided sense that I just had a typical case of Writer's Block. I now realize my mistake. While I've always known, in the back-of-my-head, that inspiration is important for good, creative writing, I've been fixated on being able to write from standstill. Somehow, I idealized being able to wake up, and just write for hours. That's how "successful" creative types operated, I thought.

And maybe that still is. While there are writers that have only one or two great novels, and then large expanses of nothingness, professional writers seem to have that ability produce massive amounts of text like pulp.

Am I giving up on that? Maybe that's the wrong question. For now, the idea is just to make the space and tools available for me to be creative, give myself permission to produce, and if I produce, I produce. If I don't, no sweat.

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