Creativity flows from depth of exposure to sensory input.
Let me say that again: creativity flows from depth of exposure to sensory input.
Without sounds we’ve known, where would music come from? Without images we’ve seen, colors we’ve boggled at, shapes we’ve felt, where would new works of art come from? And, without stories, legends, fairy tales, poetry, and even journal articles, where will original narrative spring from?
New work arises from the bones of old—just as new life arises from a remix of DNA.
I’ve written before about the marvelous, magical brain and how it’s always cooking things up (Idea Mining) but with a dearth of exposure, how can new ideas emerge? In a hectic, overstimulated world with too much of one kind of input (like electronics) from whence will rise the next Michelangelo? Without time—time to wander, and putter, percolating on rich sensory input, practicing your craft- who could give birth to genius?
And by this, I’m not talking about retreating for six months to Esalen in Big Sur, meditating naked—(though that could be fun) I’m talking about walking in nature for awhile, letting the eyes wander where they will, picking out the butterflies trying to fly while they mate (not graceful) and the mynah birds chasing a cat.
Breathing deep that smell of moss under a tree, a smell like the underside of a mushroom, cool and slightly sour.
Listening to rain falling, the parrot next door screaming “Pretty bird!” and cars honking.
Processing it. Experiencing it. If creativity is the water, then drawing it out with a bucket is the process of accessing it. And, the water itself has to come from somewhere- it emerges from what is deeply felt and fully experienced.
I am, right now, primarily a writer (of all my creative dabblings.) Two days ago I finished Black Jasmine, my third complete novel and best first draft to date (in my optimistic opinion, though my daughter tells me I say that of all of them.)
I am suffering the aftermath of creative overdrive, a mildly depressive state like oncoming flu. Nothing feels quite right, nothing tastes quite right, and quite frankly life looks pretty empty with nothing but fascinating work, loving family, good friends, life in paradise and rewriting in my near future.
Bleah, and bah humbug. I miss my characters. I miss my book, the constant nagging obsession of it. I’m annoyed I feel this way, finding it neurotic and even narcissistic, and I wonder if I should go to therapy. Oh yeah, I’m a therapist. I hope that means I’m okay, but I’m far from certain of it.
I wonder if I’ll ever write again.
I apparently suffer from being a writer.
This article sums it up rather nicely: Beware the Writer.
But now is really the time to fill the creative well, trust the process, know that new ideas are already bubbling in the substrata of my busy brain…they just need more to feed on. Like busily multiplying bacteria, they need stuff to digest. I just need to throw some new input into the creative well for my rabid imagination to stew upon.
Maybe an article on that kid who stole airplanes, or a romance by a friend, or that book about the ever-living cancer cells I've been meaning to read (the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) or wander the latest art show (which is how I got the idea of money laundering through the art world-back to Black Jasmine again!)
No doubt, you need to fill the well too. Take the time. It'll pay off when you go to draw water.
Wonderful read first thing in the morning. It will energize my day. I wouldn’t discount the creativity that comes from any kind of hard work including electronics. Where would we be without the creative genius of Steve Jobs and company?
I totally agree.
I just also think we need to more consciously experience other kinds of sensory input, especially young people with growing brains (though that’s a topic for another day)
So true. As you’ll know from my photos, I go back to nature a lot. But I write SF, so I also go to science and sometimes I just let little thoughts percolate into my head all by themselves. I haven’t finished the WiP but even so a little something is nagging in my brain. What will the next one be about? What indeed?
Enjoy your well-earned break.
Thanks so much Greta, it’s hard to let go and relax into it but I’m ‘filling the well’ in faith.
That’s really interesting, Toby. Now you mention it I think I may be experiencing the dry well that comes from finishing a period of intense creative work – not writing unfortunately but paid employment. Now I have time to smell the roses and watch the butterflies but anxious that is is ‘wasted’ time. I shall now regard it as time to refill the well so that I can pursue alternative creativity!
Love your wise words.
Wonderful, Shubie! May I suggest any and all books by Julia Cameron on the creative process? her one on writing, The Right to Write, is a gem!
Love it. And just because you always say it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. You’re learning, growing and improving. Take some time, refill your well. I love you! And read that book, it is really good.
Note: I left my phone (dead) in my carpool’s car after my field trip this weekend. I will call when I have access to it again.
Love love love,
Thanks for showing up to cheer me on, my dear! I will cease with the increasingly-freaked out messages. LOL