Creative Pep Talk!

Are you considering becoming a creative person? Too late, you already are one. To even call somebody ‘a creative person’ is almost laughably redundant; creativity is the hallmark of our species. We have the senses for it; we have the curiosity for it; we have the opposable thumbs for it; we have the language and the excitement and the innate connection to divinity for it.
The guardians of high culture will try to convince you that the arts belong to a chosen few, but they are wrong and they are also annoying. We are all the chosen few.Elizabeth Gilbert, BIG MAGIC

If you’re looking for a creative pep talk I can’t recommend Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear enough. Yeah we know, self-help-ish books aren’t everyone’s flavor, but it’s basically written into Rabble & Twine’s mission to give a creative pep talk to the world. And I for one have been needing a pep talk lately.

I particularly enjoyed the section on permission. I’ve been thinking a lot about this since our recent post on authenticity. Giving yourself the permission to follow your unique creative interests. To make the art you feel drawn to make. Personally I struggle pushing pass doubts that the art I’m making is worthwhile. That it’s good enough, creative enough, bold enough, brave enough or simply enough.

Lately, I haven’t been inspired to make up choreography for myself. There are several influential factors but mostly it’s because my attention has been pulled elsewhere. Since I started teaching in September, I’ve been making up so much choreography for my students sometimes I just don’t feel up to making movement for my own purposes! Luke and I have been spending time working on the last Larkspur project Full Circle, a series of short dance films. We’ve been making some real headway lately and things are coming together in a inspiring way. Don’t you just love that moment when a project clicks? Part of me feels that choreography still needs my attention. It’s lingering in my body. I think once I am finished the Full Circle I’ll be more inspired to move for myself again. I’ll keep you posted.

Interlude: Science

Dr. Charles Limb and Dr. Allen Braun performed a novel study back in 2008 where they strapped jazz pianists into a MRI and had them improvise. What they found was that when the musicians improvised the bits of the brain associated with self-monitoring shut down, while the bits related to self-expression lit up. Braun found similar results in 2012 with freestyle rappers. This doesn’t happen when playing scales or memorized pieces, but rather in acts of improvisation and novelty.
Copyright © 2012, Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved
Warm colors represent significant increases in neural activity during improvisation, cool colors represent significant decreases.

My take: when it’s time to make something it’s time to stop doubting yourself.

Of course, I still have ideas for choreography brewing. I’m always brewing up ideas and making up short movement phrases…but there is a difference between playing around and seriously focusing on CREATING something. The lulls where I don’t feel fully inspired are part of my creative process (my least favorite part). Showing up and doing the work can be hard, especially when you don’t feel inspired or motivated to do it. But part of living a creative life is diving in and trying even if its not working. If you REALLY aren’t getting joy out of it, I suggest you walk away. Try something else for a while and come back to project refreshed. Or trash it and find a completely new project.

When I’m not creating new movement it does it make me less of a choreographer?
Does it make me less of a creative person?
The answer is no, obviously…but knowing and accepting that is the trick.

It’s easy to spiral and feel shitty when I go through these dance-less phases in my life – I know because I’ve done it before. Struggling with guilt and that I’m ignoring my craft or not pushing myself enough. Self doubt that if I don’t use my creative outlet I’ll lose it. It’s time to change that point of view, stop the spiral, and embrace creative confidence! It’s easy to retreat and get lost in the creative wasteland that is the dry spell. Instead of a lull, I’m trying to think of it as an incubation period. My next idea is incubating. I’m waiting for the timing to work out and for one of the ideas to land.

In the meantime, I’ve been making lots of little doodles and sketches with watercolor.
I’m enjoying playing with lines, text, and color.
Are my doodles particularly innovative or boundary pushing? NO
Are they entertaining and cute as can be? YES

Creative projects come in all shapes and sizes. A small something is still a something. The creative ACTION is the important part! Developing your creative practice requires patience. Sometimes it means asking yourself frustrating questions to no avail and sometimes it requires a bag of googly eyes. I’m giving myself permission to explore and accept the re-direction of the process. It’s best to trust your instincts. And YES, it can be hard to listen to them (especially when negative self talk gets in the way). I believe spending my time doing things that make me feel creatively fulfilled (even if they are silly doodles) are valid creative endeavors. Do the things that interest you—you never know where they may lead you! Create the things that make you happy!

I’ll leave you with one last piece of advice from Big Magic because we could all use the reminder that we are the boss of our own lives.

Recognizing this reality—that the reaction doesn’t belong to you—is the only way to create. If people enjoy what you’ve created, terrific. If people ignore what you’ve created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you’ve created, don’t sweat it. And what if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud?
Just smile sweetly and suggest – as politely as you possibly can – that they go make their own fucking art. Then stubbornly continue making yours.Elizabeth Gilbert, BIG MAGIC

How about you? Tell anyone to F off lately?

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