I tried to write a list of things I would do as “play”- for fun:

bicycling with no destination and no hurry
reading fiction books
making clothes for myself
drinking coffee
talking about relationships
anything sort of mysterious and magical
stories

Isn’t it funny:  writing about play is challenging for me. It could be, that play is a rather non-verbal part of my life.  A non-analytical part. And thus, there’s not too much to write about.

paint

When one is an artist, or works for oneself, there’s still a need to play, but there can be a real blurring of the lines.  If I just write a list of all the things I do anyway for work, but qualify them with “for myself, on my own time”  it’s hard to find true separation between work and play. And why should there be?

But there is, because the energetic level of play and the energetic level of work are different.  The only point they might meet is during the creative process.

I read a lot about the creative process when I was a teenager.  I don’t think I’ve read anything on it since.  But as a young person, I got really interested in a book series on the creative process that was popular at the time (1995) called The Artist’s Way.  It was a book full of exercises designed to help older artists break through blocks.  I loved working through those exercises, some of which were really not applicable to my age (such as –  write your biography in 5-year chunks-  I would have had only two and 3/5ths chunks, as everything before age three was a blur.)

In retrospect, I can only assume that learning about the problems of creative living at a young age set me up for easy access to that aspect of life, because I don’t get blocked or even too self-critical during the process.  I’ve also stepped in and out of media (i.e. painting, clothing, writing) for years at a time, and been comfortable with the re-aclimation curve, as it were, to get back to a place of being creatively proficient in a medium.

But one thing The Artist’s Way book emphasized as a practise, that even at age 16 I couldn’t seem to enjoy or do, was a weekly play date, alone, doing something fun.

I would make lists of things I might like to do, such as “go to the art store” or “go to the museum” but really, for a 16 year old on the verge of dropping out of high school, I already spent a good deal of time doing things I liked to do, alone.  Another exercise that was really more appropriate for the working mother-of-three than the teenage loner.

It’s a bit of a joke in our house, but I really, really get deep into my creative thought processes, and really don’t like being interrupted. It’s a morning activity for me.  I tell others “I’m really not a morning person” so I can excuse myself from early meetings, but really, I am an extreme morning person and I can’t bear to give that time up to someone else.  Daniel and I live in a one-room studio-style place, so this sometimes manifests as Daniel asking me what I’m working on around 10:30am, to which my terse reply is “I’m thinking!” or “Writing!” and Daniel saying “Hey, you’ve been doing that for five hours, and this is the first time I’ve asked- you can say good morning to me!”

Which I’m always happy to do, once reminded. :)

You might say, why live someplace with an office or separate room?  Nah.  We actually love living in a small space.  It’s impossible to accumulate too much stuff, and it’s easy to keep neat and clean.  It’s a shared value that’s really important to both of us-  keep home simple and overhead expenses low.

And it’s a really nice, small space :)

Posted by:brook delorme

8 replies on “creative process

  1. My creative thought process is very similar. I love the quiet of the mornings and hate being interrupted. I do require a separate workspace, though. I find if I try to work in the main living area of our house I’m constantly distracted by the “domestic” things I should be doing instead.

  2. That’s funny. I can work in libraries and coffee shops, etc., where there are people around and I’m anonymous, sort of. I do my best work alone but sometimes when I’m feeling stuck I find it helpful to work in a public place, helps me to get in the flow, so to speak. But I absolutely could never work in a room with another person who’s not also working, not even a lover. I do envy people who can share a a studio space, because, as my friend Alex notes, there are many advantages to low-rent living (http://positivesharing.com/2006/08/low-rent-living/). :-)

    1. hey Elizabeth- it’s funny, a memory I recalled just recently reminds me of what you just wrote- I remembered that, as a teenager, I could easily study or read or do homework in noisy and crowded coffeeshops. Until someone pointed it out to me, somewhat incredulously, and asked how I could concentrate with all the noise- and, perhaps due to the power of suggestion- I can’t concentrate well now with any sort of background noise- including music that has lyrics. Wish I could undue that power of suggestion bit!

      Yes on low-rent living- Daniel and I talk about this a lot. “Let’s keep overhead low and flexibility high.” Love it!

      thanks for writing :)

  3. Hi there Brooke,

    I grew up in an environment and family where creativity is considered to be for crazy people, other then creativity in how to beat the line for the passport and ID renewal and anytime i did something creative for school work or myself, seems like there was just nobody or no one to encourage me and say: hey keep going, keep working on this, keep developing in this direction (now that I can look back). I am not whining here, I had fun life just not much conscious creativity, but I still remember this rare yet significant and meaningful moments and instances when there were.
    Once upon a time I realized that what I am searching for is what people call God, and without God there is something always missing. How can I make the main aim of my life to be something so abstract, yet this abstraction is the very most pragmatical thing I need in my reality.
    Then one day after I read The War of Art by Pressfield, I managed to sit down and write 1000 words. The experience for the rest of that day was magical, I was much more joyful, inspired, loving, friendly, relaxed, and peaceful. Pressfield many times quoted English poet William Blake, so then later reading the lines of William Blake and hearing the lectures of Neville Goddard, made me realize that God I was looking for is within and that it is my own imagination. That is the main point of The Bible, The Bhagavad Gita, and other sacred texts, they are all blatantly hiding something which once experienced becomes so obvious.
    I thank you for the beautiful blogs, consider me subscribed, and may I finish with a lovely quote by Blake: “The imagination is not a state: it is the human existence itself.”
    Blessings.

    Jovan

    1. hi Jovan! Thanks for writing, and very interesting thoughts. I haven’t heard of Pressfield, but will look it up. And yes, I agree- creative process is sometimes the best and only way to feel better. I get really unhappy if I have to deal with systematic, linear, structured things for too many hours of the day- and managing to step away from the devouring systems- to do or think in a creative way- well, it’s the best remedy. Thanks for the reminder!

      kindly,
      brook

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