Thursday, October 27, 2011

Creativity: An Intentional, Unpredictable Process

Creativity is such a weird thing. It is looking at what already exists around us, seeing the patterns, the cliches, the original ideas, the core elements that comprise it, and then based on all these things, coming up with something new.

It is not a lightbulb moment in the middle of the night. It is more like spontaneous combustion, like a haystack sitting for months and months in a field, just stewing away, and nobody knows, nobody sees. All anyone sees is the moment when it bursts into flame. So you can be intentional about it--you can foster an environment that will allow things to stew--but, at the same time, if you have fifty creative haystacks in the same field, who's to say when each one will blow?

It makes us creative types look pretty nutty. We spend hours and hours of our time pouring into these creative stewpots, which looks more like taking long walks, visiting art galleries, drinking coffee, talking shop with other like-minds, staring at the empty easel or Word document or video camera, laughing a lot, quoting random artists, crying a lot, and drinking more coffee. It looks less like work and more like a kind of long-distance relationship that we are passionately obsessed about. In other words, self-imposed torture. 

You cannot force the process. You can work really hard at it, but you cannot force it.

Which brings us to the weirdest part of all, the caveat that blows people's brains and makes them doubt our authenticity. If a creative person sits down with a deadline intending to create something, and they do not leave until this occurs, something will be created. Any college student learns this lesson. We all forget it as soon as we can, but at one point, we did learn it.

If we want to, if we really, really bend ourselves to the task, creative people can create things.

I know that's shocking. Plus it somewhat contradicts what I said before about the process being impossible to force. But if you think about all the people who have jobs that involve being creative on a daily basis--TV writers, for instance, who have to write and revise scripts daily--you realize creativity must have an intentional element to it. They can create, because they put their minds to it, because they must. They work that muscle and something comes out.

You must also realize, however, there's no guarantee what the particular TV episode will be about, and early intentions may have to shift, and the quality may be awful, or the episode may be shockingly good. No matter how hard a creative person works their creative "muscles," they can't have everything they want.

It is this process, and it is also intentional, and it involves hardworking decisiveness, but also an ability to go with the flow.

Let me put it this way. One can't always meet their creative standard. But one can almost always, barring certain circumstances, end up creating something.

Don't you love this? I just love it. It means if I work hard, I can achieve something; yet there's an element of magic that I can't control, can't predict, can't get bored with. Have you ever considered for a moment what it would be like, if humans didn't have creativity? Have you ever noticed how much joy, and pain, and love is involved with creation?

I am really awed that God not only made the universe, but made me with the ability to be creative myself. It is a glimpse into His mind and Heart that no other creature on the planet has. Only artists can truly appreciate the work that goes into a piece of art; with my creativity, I honor the One who invented it all to start with. I think that's so beautiful.

Truly and always,

-Creative A


April said...

What a beautiful post! I agree with the creation of this world. Sometimes, I sit and stare at something - a fresh flower, a bright red leaf, the sunset - just in awe at God's creation.

And what a great way to look at all us've given me motivation to sit down this weekend and create something. Thank you!

YelenaC said...

Good post. I think creativy is one of the most beautiful and important divine abilities given to us. The ability to be creating, to create, is amazing and there's so much around us to give us inspiration to create.

Creative A said...

April -- it is lovely, isn't it? I had one of those experiences today while on a road trip. Anyway, I'm glad my post could inspire you!

Creative A said...

Yelena -- I utterly agree! And it's such an honor that God cared enough to give us that ability and inspiration.


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