Working Artists Share What Works
What works for you? We’re compiling a list of what people find helps them get inspired, stay all wooshed up, and most of, get creative work done. Add your thoughts to the comments below.
April 10, 2009 at 4:01 pm
It’s only taken a dozen years or so, but I’m finally beginning to get that any creative process isn’t made of magical, floating, in-the-zone feelings. It’s discipline; it’s work, routine, not unlike washing the dishes or making the bed or lacing up the running shoes and heading out the door each morning. The problem is that we have in these times reasoned that creativity must not be drudgery. I’m pretty sure Mozart didn’t have this illusion, nor Picasso, Georgia O’Keefe, or Margaret Atwood. There were times, of course, where I am certain it was/is the best job on Earth to each of them, but they could not have become masters of their craft without hard, consistent work. Every day. It’s the only way to get there.
April 10, 2009 at 5:48 pm
I always tell my students about the a**-in-the-chair method of writing — if you don’t do it, you won’t do it. But here I sit, like a doctor who smokes cigarettes, not writing when I “should” be. I think it’s a matter of definition, or semantics, if you will. It looks to you like I’m sitting here reading a women’s magazine and eating bonbons. But I’m writing. You think I’m watching CSI reruns. But I’m writing. At work they think I’m surfing the web, but I’m writing — on the inside.
For me, an idea may wait in the back of the closet, waiting for that perfect outing. I have to picture it from all angles, look up its skirt, sniff its armpits, tuck the tag into the back of its collar. Try it on with different shoes. Heels or flats. Summer or winter. Formal or casual-chic. Some ideas sit in my mental closet, or on random scraps of paper, for years. And others don’t get to wait for the ink to dry before I’m fluffing, pinning and steam-cleaning them for best effect.
I could go on, but the metaphor is wearing out, heh heh. My point: Just because it doesn’t “look like” you’re writing doesn’t mean you’re not writing. What writing “looks like” is different for everyone. Let your writing style be your own, one in which you are most comfortable and best presented. And that, whether or not you apply your chinos to the chair, is what makes you a writer, or not.
April 10, 2009 at 5:49 pm
When stuck, find a window preferably with a view or at least a long viewshed, and stare out it for a few minutes while trying to think about nothing except the view.
Carry around a notebook and jot down any creative ideas you have (or overheard dialogue!) on the spot.
Spend some time doing something you’re bad at.
April 21, 2009 at 8:51 am
For me the key to making art is to stay open and curious and not get concerned with being productive or “successful.” When I get distracted by others’ expectations, I lose the joy in the process of creating things, and then I don’t want to do it anymore. Of course, to share work or have it accepted for public viewing involves meeting someone else’s standards, and I think high aesthetic measures are important, but, again, I feel dampened when I think I “should,” according to someone else’s expectations, focus on and develop one art form. For instance, if, instead of painting, I want to buy a battery for the camera and take it out after it has been collecting dust for a couple of years, then I need to do so. The painting ends up benefiting in the long run anyway.
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