Now that have I laid out my personal theory regarding creativity and the joys of choosing your own problems, I will tackle the second and third questions recently presented to me. These have to do with developing and maintaining the rhythm of creativity in your day to day life.
So lets get started.
“What do I do to cultivate / develop my creativity?” Huh?? Lets simplify that into what I think is really being asked: How do you stay focused and how do you develop the discipline to keep working to solve these ridiculous problems you have set out for yourself?
Well, in short…practice makes permanence.
The most important aspect of cultivating creativity is simply practicing your craft. It is amazing the energy that can be created by the simple act of “doing”; the energy seems to build upon itself. The more you practice your craft, the more the ideas bubble to the surface and the more you want to keep working. I know from personal experience that it can be hard to get started, especially if you have been inactive for a significant amount of time. It takes a while for the rust to flake away and your momentum to pick up. For me the pain of inaction always outweighs the pain of action; no matter how challenging the task at hand.
It is hard to stay focused when there are so many interesting distractions in the world: movies, tv shows, video games, books, the internet and especially social media. In fact most of the practicing artists I know are completely unplugged from the internet so they won’t be distracted. You need to be careful balancing activities that inspire and energize you with activities that distract you from your chosen path.
Please don’t think I am being critical of anyone who loves to do any of these activities I mentioned, I love them too! I have come to realize that there are only so many hours in a day and I have to choose to create or to consume. I don’t have time to do both.
And the last question presented to me is: “How do I maintain or sustain my creativity?” This is the easiest of the three questions to answer. I have surrounded myself with some of the most creative people I can find. I enjoy interacting with engaging people who participate in a variety of interests and are only too happy to introduce me to new ideas and experiences. I also have an amazing support group of fellow photographers that extends across the globe. These friends, that inhabit both my real and virtual life, continually push me to be the best person I can be both creatively and personally. They are a pretty stellar group and I have to bring my “A” game to the table at all times.
In addition to my amazing support group I also enjoy several side projects and interests that feed my creativity. These include reading books across a wide range of topics, watching documentaries that relate to the creative process and my six year volunteer gig as a videographer for my local independent radio station KEXP. Volunteering is a wonderful way for me to stay social, indulge my love of music and practice my craft through a different lens. Side projects are an important way to stay energized and bring new and interesting influences into your creative life.
For me creativity is just a process, a series of decisions that may or may not lead to a solution. There is an element of patience, hard work, luck, even a little magic, in every successful solution.
As an artist, I am never comfortable examining the creative process too carefully. I am well aware that the muse could leave me at any time (as it has in the past) and I hate tempting fate. I am also aware that what works for me will be different from my blog mates. It is up to each of us to find our own path of creativity and successful problem solving.
How would you answer these questions?