How to kill your creative urges

stack of notebooks
courtesy Australian National Maritime Museum

I spoke with a good friend a while back. She said that I need to separate the business aspects of my life from the creative ones. I know she’s right. “Wear two hats”, she said. “They are really mutually exclusive activities.” I think she’s right about that part too.

Some of us get way too caught up in planning, goal setting, task listing. Truth be told it’s a form of procrastination.  It’s like a puzzle or a game. I know that’s the case for me because I love to plan and often fail to execute the plan. Instead of implementing it, I revise the plan. As if lists and outlines were the real work. I have huge notebooks with plans in them. It’s a way to focus more on the planning and business aspects of art instead of getting to the more fulfilling and way, way harder work of – doing something creative.

stack of notebooksBUT creativity is not a goal-oriented activity. You can plan a work of art, you can even do preliminary sketches and set a time frame, but for 2-D art at least, the artwork can take on a life of its own and take you where it wants you to go. If you are too goal oriented, you are not focused on the process but on the outcome. That is DEATH to creativity. At least for me.

So, I decided to re-read, Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugene Herrigel – for two reasons; one because I ran across my copy the other day, and two, because this conversation reminded me how much I need to re-read it to remind myself to always be present with my creative pursuits and not be trying to live in some dimly perceived future movie in which I’m the star. With or without popcorn.

I still have some business goals for the year, but I have to remind myself continually that my creative goals are just to work more in the studio, to explore and experiment, to do the best work I can, to ask “what if” and to continually wonder, “where this would go I if just did…”

2 Replies to “How to kill your creative urges”

  1. Great post, Jean and such a great reminder.Love the image and will have to check out your book mention. Your piece in the Water on the Border show looks great.

    1. Thanks, Tauna. I liked yours as well. I’ll be posting some pics of the show in the newsletter.

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