12. CREATIVITY. IT’S PERSONAL!
After 12 monthly blogs - (that was a quick year!) - I thought it would be a good time to write a little about creative processes.
I am busy with a lot of projects at the moment - visual and musical. Some I can’t talk about yet so I thought I would write a bit about my experience of creativity in both fields and how it can feel.
There can be long periods of frustration working on an idea that you can either ‘see’ or ‘hear’ but not know how to manifest. These same challenging periods can also feel exciting and you will probably find many different (and usable) ideas happening accidentally. Even if they lead up blind alleys, a lot of these ideas may either create whole new projects of their own or they can contribute to other projects. Anyway, we can park these ideas and raid the resulting stock at a later date. This pile of ideas is often referred to as ‘the fridge’.
Inspiration can come from anywhere of course. It can be a fizzing sort of madness but I am often reminded that the work is 10% inspiration 90% perspiration!!
There is a different ‘feel’ to the processes I use to make work that is self-motivated and spontaneous, and work that is made to fulfil the brief of a commission. For me, this applies to both music and visual art.
Driven by the need to create, express or react - an artwork or piece of music made from my own personal starting points - usually involves a lot of wandering around an idea and taking the ‘scenic route’. Sometimes a whole ongoing project can result from these walkabouts. Very occasionally, a piece will land fully formed. As many other people do, I believe that creativity comes through us rather than from us.
Commissioned work, or work made as part of a team effort, may well involve a really tight deadline and also will need to fulfil a brief so there is an inherent sense of responsibility towards others, and usually too little time to ‘wander’ very far. I often feel as if I really have to up my game in these situations.
You will have to make compromises; you may have challenges caused by fragile egos or personality clashes. If you have a good team the resulting ‘compromise’ will be better than the individual ideas, and the whole should equal more than the sum of the parts.
Parameters and limitations imposed on you by a commission or group endeavour can actually be helpful - the structure can focus the mind! At the same time, it can expand your work practice by forcing you to research and make decisions on ideas that you would never normally consider.
I think it’s important to be true to your own authentic creative style, but be flexible and always enjoy the process, even if you are under pressure.
As many of you know, I met Chris White whilst pursuing my path in music and art and it is a big gift to have an understanding ally in the creative world which is, let’s face it, a world based on rejection. He knows this only too well and has taught me a lot about resilience and persistence!
Constant self motivation can be exhausting. Distractions abound! Sometimes it feels as if there is never time to sit and make/ write/ paint/ play. Self doubt is never far away. Ideas and problem-solving can keep you awake at night. It is easy to doubt the value of your ideas and even to feel you may never have another good idea again ... ever!
Usually you will not be 100% happy with your ‘final product’ - there will always be something you would want to change, add, omit - it can be an open-ended constant nag!
It is easy to undermine yourself and feel inadequate, unnecessary or overlooked. But there is SO much to learn from everyone around you - and often they need your input. I am always learning, learning, learning - from great singers such as Colin Blunstone or Bianca Kinane, great songwriters like Rod Argent and Chris White, and great musicians too numerous to name here. We learn! We grow!
Fame is another issue. I am not famous myself, but I am often in the company of famous people (husband included!) and you realise very quickly that fame is a VERY different beast from creativity. That is a whole subject on its’ own - I might write about that in the future.
Another aspect of creativity is audience reaction. It is largely uncontrollable and comes in many forms. It can be instant - a live audience at a performance, people turning up to an exhibition, or it can be a slow build up of attention and popular support – or not, selling pictures – or not, selling music – or not! You get the idea. Some projects may take months and years to complete but there is absolutely no guarantee that anybody will like what you have produced.
It is hard to separate your work from yourself and this can make you vulnerable to taking things personally - the work IS part of you, but if you want your ‘creative stuff’ to be out there, you have to understand that it WILL be judged, and you need to learn to be OKAY with that, and even be able to transmute external challenges in a creative way. It can be painful; it can be joyous.
Having said all of this, creating stuff gives a very particular brilliant reward.
You HAVE to produce the work because keeping the ideas inside your head will drive you mad. It is messy and it can feel like herding cats!! Ideas must out!
A life in music or art is precarious but it is a gift to be treasured. I feel very lucky to be a part of such a contrary, fickle and exciting world and love the craziness … most of the time!
I always feel at the beginning. I wish I had started SO much earlier.
Attitude is all!
I am talking to myself as well when I say “just keep creating ... and keep open.”