January is the Time to Rev Your Creative Engine
Winter can be a great time to jump start your creativity and your sense of artistry. Though it can be tempting to crawl under a blanket until Spring, you will later be glad you put this extra time to good use. We tend to have more time indoors than usual in the winter months and that can offer some great opportunities to exercise your creativity.
The first thing you can do to get those creative juices flowing is to do what Julia Cameron calls artist dates. Just because you have to be indoors in the winter doesn’t mean that you have to be in your indoors. Get up, get dressed, and get out of your habitat for the soul purpose of having and artistic experience. You could see a show, listen to a live performance of the symphony, see a ballet, visit a gallery, or loose yourself in an art museum. Do the first thing that pops into your head. But there’s one catch. You need to go have your artist date alone. I really like Cameron’s concept that on this artistic field trip, you are taking your I inner artist on a date. You are there to do what your inner artist wants to do, to spend time with he/she alone— just like on a date with a romantic partner, you will want to listen carefully and pay attention to whatever he/she tells you.
You may be saying “That sounds crazy— take yourself on a date… Who the f#%&@ has time to do that?!” Well, I felt the same way at first, but this little action of self care can really get those creative wheels turning. This is a good time for all those little ideas that have been floating around your subconscious to finally get the chance to break through to your awareness.
It’s also a good time for you to be quiet, be alone with your thoughts and become aware of how you are feeling. It is good to know yourself and doing so will put you in touch with the artistic side you that wants to express how you feel. If your music, your dance, your words, or your song doesn’t reflect how you are feeling, then it can’t be an authentic creation. Without self-awareness, our ability to work in our given art form may feel forced, contrived, restricted, or the worst of all— like we are faking it. These thoughts and feelings we have are subtle and can change in one direction or another in very small increments. On your artist date, you may find that now that you are finally alone with your thoughts that someone or something has really brought you down. You might have known that person was getting to you, but not until you are alone can you be truly honest about how much so. Or, in this better scenario, the experiences you encounter on your artist date might illuminate in your mind all the beauty that is in the world. From a grand painting hanging in the MET Museum, to the smile of a newborn baby you happen to glimpse on your train ride to the MET— your artist date can help you to seek out beauty and inspiration in things from that which is most grand to that which is most simple.
I like to think of the early winter like a blank notebook, and the artist dates I take are like the bits of pictures and ephemera I cut out of here and there to glue into that notebook. Once you’ve woken up your inner artist and treated he/she with special attention, you might begin to notice trends forming. “Why did I go see the same exhibit of still life paintings three times in a row?” Or you might ask yourself, “What is it about that orchestra that keeps me going back time and time again?” These simple questions which are posed to your inner artist can become creative inquiries that lead to the production of new work or projects. They can jump start your sense of intrigue and discovery.
I encourage you to make time for yourself, get out there, and pay attention to your creative self. Be still– and listen closely. Write down what you feel, think about it, dissect it, analyze it, research it– think about how you can express it in your art form. I guarantee that you once you start connecting your art form to the thoughts and emotions in your experience, as an artist, you will be compelled (and motivated) to express them!
Now get out there and go!
- Four techniques to tap into your imagination (onewildword.com)
- How to create rituals to improve your creativity from the new book I Just Like to Make Things (craftside.typepad.com)
I really like this post. I have always found that the periods when I am doing my best work across all areas of my life are those when I have a balance between creating and consuming. If I’ve been too isolated for a period, I find that watching an Argerich or David Fray or Berlin Phil video on youtube often gives me a jolt, but only when I get out there as you’ve said, and really interface with the art of others, do I regain that balance.
Have you heard of Umberto Eco’s concept of “Open Works”?…it’s the idea that the best artistic experiences are those where meaning is a result of the interaction between creator and consumer, RATHER than where meaning is dictated by one party or the other. I feel like going out in the sense that you’re advocating here really embodies the open work type experience.
Thanks blogsfsm! I’m glad that you agree! Taking the time to get our creativity going is so important.