when I was about 16 I first read The Artist’s Way. It was my first real exposure to books about creativity & creative blocks. Many of the exercises, such as writing one’s life story, didn’t really make much sense at that age, but I was in love with the book and the process of focusing on creativity. It was like school work, organized and planned out, only more enjoyable.
So it’s hard to gauge how, if at all, that early exposure to creative processing affected my ability to be creative. Because I’ve never felt blocked. I’ve felt like not-working- but only when I’ve been working too much. A vacation or a couple days doing something else fixes that. That’s what I’m doing now.
But a lack of ideas? never. because one idea always leads to another. There’s always more ideas than time to implement or experiment. I’m usually inspired by techniques and by mistakes.
When I draw and paint, I love faces, I love photo-realism. I can’t actually paint that way (yet) but there’s a technique to explore. I love the southwest, and light, and deserts, and beautiful faces. I love soft interior views as well. There’s a lifetime of work in those phrases.
When I sew, I’m fascinated by mistakes. Mistakes, or the process of inventing a construction technique, or the odd seam/edge/buttonhole/ pocket inspire me endlessly. So, mistakes seeming endless, and construction techniques as well- there’s a million ways to be inspired. It is, mostly, about process, and about the way the wearer feels and functions. Very little about reminiscing or future-dreams. I don’t really even look at fashion, except in minute ways, through a micro lens. I’ll buy vogue when traveling, and one image might get me, and it will often be about one construction technique.
writing, for me, is not about creativity, but about function. I don’t wordsmith (no doubt it shows.) my sentences are often long and unwieldy. I write to try to convey ideas. It’s just function.
When I write for myself, in a journal, by hand, it’s for therapy- sort of. Part of the reason foreign language learning was so appealing was it kept the endless journal entries private. (private enough; at least for my purposes.)
strangely, I don’t think journaling has been particularly psychologically healthy over the years. it’s led to more obsessive behavior than not. I have pounds and pounds of journals that evidence this. I think writing online is a healthier processing tool, because one is forced to allow some modicum of reality into the discussion. A private journal just allows fears and obsessions to run rampant.
The thing I do, strongly, feel about creativity is that it requires space. Time space and place space. I don’t easily work a 45+ hour per week job and also want to sew, write, or paint. (I’ve tried.) Especially if the dayjob is intellectually demanding.
I’ve never actually had one of those jobs you expect artists to have, physically demanding but perhaps not intellectually so…I don’t know what it’s like- if that leads to more of a pent-up need to create or wears it down. due to the chances or choices of birth and parentage, I worked in a corporate world which was quite intellectually demanding.
but here’s how I felt after five years: drained, exhausted, and missing myself. I was good at the job, but I really felt like I was living someone else’s life. and that I had no control over it.
and so now, I’ve been working for myself almost exclusively for several years. I feel more like it’s my life. and I’m on a vacation now, at home, and comfortable.
The vacation idea came out of nowhere, because suddenly I didn’t want to sew (usually I do.) Fulfilling orders was starting to feel like a burden when it usually makes me excited. So it clearly was time for a break. Young and I made a plan to drive up the coast of Maine to Canada and Prince Edward Island. Of course, immediately upon leaving I got a bad cold, which happens if I don’t take a vacation for a while and then do. After four nights, only one in Canada, we both agreed home sounded more appealing. and now, I’m determined to hold onto my next three days of vacation even in proximity to the studio. (This will be published after the fact. :) I’m also avoiding people.
As Young just said about being home “I feel like I’m on vacation from vacation.” which is how I feel too…now there is room to really relax, because home is more comfortable than any hotel. I just don’t want to tell anyone I am here, or return to the studio yet. I understand why people need to go away for vacation. It takes discipline to relax at home when all the work triggers are visible & ready.