In my last blog post I talked about ‘drift time’, often disguised as daydreaming, and how absolutely critical it is to the creative process. In this post I want to explore some other ideas about our lives as working artists, writers…creatives.
As well as making art and exploring the creative process, I also work as a creativity coach. It has been a quiet addition to my skill set that I haven’t spoken about publicly, until now…and something I’m building on and incorporating into my life and work.
I’ve always had a passion for helping others, so this work has brought together two of my deepest interests – art making and the way we relate to our art. So far it’s been endlessly gratifying. It’s work that I really enjoy and plan to build upon this year.
What I’m finding most fascinating is the discovery of the commonalities that many creatives share in being able to support and nurture their art making. One of the major topics I discuss with those I work with is this ‘drift time’. Why it’s important, how to make more room for it in our lives, and what to do when the noise in our head is drowning out any possibility of connecting with our ideas so we can be in a place for inspiration to show up.
We talk about having to make a conscious effort to not fall into the trap of being distracted, or being ‘pinged’ as I heard someone once call it, out of our creative mindset. The ‘ping’ being the latest email or text coming in…and that compulsion to look at it. It’s addictive and takes discipline to not allow yourself to succumb to temptation. I know….because I struggle with it constantly!
One of the things I’ve noticed for myself is that traversing the vast unknown, which is what creativity is, naturally generates anxiety. We inherently don’t want to encounter the unknown….and for good reason. It’s risky! So we subconsciously find ways to avoid what’s uncomfortable and we take ourselves out of that discomfort by way of distractions….like social media or household chores. “I’ll just finish up this really important load of laundry before I get in the studio.” Really!?!
The distraction of technology has the added edge of making us feel like we’re being productive, when we’re really just avoiding doing our creative work. We can disguise it as research, getting ready, or even essential learning. And on some level this may be true….but if we’re always getting ready, we’re simply not getting to the making of the actual art.
So it is essential that we get ourselves to our creative work even when we feel uninspired or full up with chatter or unable to focus.
One thing that helps me get into a better space for creativity is a transition ritual upon entering the studio. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Its purpose is really just to bring my awareness to the present moment and help me open my mind to the drift time.
My transition ritual involves lighting an essential oil infuser in the studio, making a cup of tea, and taking a few minutes to write in my sketchbook journal. Somehow these small acts indicate that I’m ready to move into a different space and I find my mind unlocks from all the noise and starts to gently begin to drift. Before long I’m ready to work on something, anything….and the creative flow is with me.
In fact, some of my best studio days occur on the days when I really didn’t think I had it in me because I was so scattered and noisy in my head. This realization has helped me immensely and I work closely with my clients to get them to a place where they can do this for themselves as well. It’s kind of a freeing experience actually. It gives us a sense of empowerment to know that we can shift our mind space and do what it is we we’re meant to do….make our art.
As painter Chuck Close says “I don’t work with inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs. I just get to work.”
It’s a myth that we artists wait for inspiration to strike before getting to work. An essential part of being a working artist is showing up and making our art. Inspiration will find you working!
Do you have any transition rituals that help bring you into your creative space? I would love to hear about any insights you have on this topic….please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below…and then promptly get yourself back into the studio!