I needed a cleansing. A clearing of obstacles to my thinking, self-talk and distractions that keep me from creating in my preferred forms of expression: writing and photography. So I did something about it. You may want to give it a try, too.
Twenty-four hours of creating. 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. Writing, thinking, photographing, planning, exploring, creating. Everything during the time was focused on visualizing or creating images, conceptualizing or writing, or somehow engaging my brain and senses to those ends: writing and photographing. You can find a short reflection on the day at my photography blog.
More than a few discoveries presented themselves along the way. I believe they apply to anyone who wants to access more of their potential (which should be everyone).
You Can Do More With Your Time Than You Think
I paused for a moment to relish the images and review the words that I had created. I was proud of them, and enjoyed all that had already been created. It was less than three hours into the process. By focusing on creating, but not so tightly that I didn’t allow for discovery and exploration along the way, I was able to produce a lot. Good stuff. It won’t all hang in galleries or win literary awards, but the words and images already created gave me momentum for the process. Pacing is for racing, not creating. Burn. Burn bright. Re-light. Act with the energy and gusto you have in the moment, allow breaks when you feel the need for rest and you will find you get more done than you considered possible.
Never Surrender. Never.
At 21 hours, I was toast. But I kept the pen moving, the camera clicking or the eyes wandering for inspiration. Good things happened. I created the “last” image at 23 hours (early sunrise) as a symbolic image. Then I took another “last” image a bit later when the sun was higher, revealing looming thunderstorms. That would make a good closing, I thought. On the short drive home, I saw another image that beckoned me – a basketball backboard lit for just a few moments as the sun dodged clouds. Lit against the dark shadows of the trees behind it, the backboard called out, “A new day! Come play!!” Indeed.
The point is, never give up seeing, being inspired or creating. No matter how tired, no matter how much you have done … never surrender, never give up, never stop living and creating. The “last” wasn’t, and rarely is.
Moats and Walls Don’t Work
Though this experience was largely isolationist by nature, it could not be successful if I had drawn up the bridge and filled the moat. Creativity requires interaction with the world in some way. Walk outside and feel the breeze instead of just the air conditioner while sitting at the computer. I went to Waffle House for breakfast at 2:00 a.m. to have the chance of meeting someone with real character and without pretense. The old woman who served as my waitress filled the bill. Even while going inside ourselves for creative energy, you should stay connected with your senses for inspiration. Sure, it’s a bit more complicated than those statements, but staying tied to the virtual, digital world is not a solution. Get away from virtual; make it real.
“I wonder what the cup will look like if I…?” I thought to myself. So, I explored with my camera and played. Curiosity empowers play; play brings discoveries to curiosity.
Be curious about everything. Wonder. Doubt. Challenge. Grow.
Your Creativity Comes From Who You Are … Who You Really Are
A few weeks before this project, I read two books that probably influenced the timing of it: Daily Rituals—Habits of Artists by Mason Currey, and Blissful Affliction—The Ministry and Misery of Writing by Judson Edwards. Daily Rituals provides the habits of many great creatives. There are similarities between many and tremendous differences. There is no specific path to success other than to use what habits, techniques, tools, processes, mindsets, experiences, etc. that work for you. You. Just you. Blissful Affliction reminds with humor and directness that the call to write comes from a place far deeper than the wallet. You must respond to that call with your creative expression, whether it is photography or knitting, dancing or cooking, singing or strategic planning … go to the place where you are genuinely you. Create from there.
I had gotten into my mind the “wisdom” of those who proclaim that artists must create from their deep, dark, emotional places. I figured that 20 hours into the project, I would be tapping into that wellspring and entirely new work would be the result. Nope. For my entire life, I have, with few exceptions, had a hard time remembering the wrongs done me. A good friend reminded me that I am not one to fight “against” something; I fight “for” things … I work for the positive, not fight against the negative. I’ve always been that way, and in my most exhausted hours I did not see darkness, but beauty. Fifty years ago, mom said, “Your enthusiasm will take you far.”
Create from who you are. Period.
When I returned home 24 hours and one minute later than my start, I was exhausted, depleted and smiling. After a two-hour nap, I awoke and worked for a few hours, then took a three-hour nap. I was back “in cycle” for sleep patterns, though still a bit worn down. The process works, but like any cleansing out process, it is important to consider what is put back into the system afterwards. For me, I must be very watchful of the thoughts that creep into my head, the self-doubts that blow against my flame. I must fill my system with confidence, faith and courage to use my abilities in response to the inspiration-every-moment way that I view life and living. You will discover what belongs in your gut, too, after you complete a creativity cleansing.
If I still worked in a team environment, I would find a way to provide them the gift of this sort of experience, except in an eight-hour work day format. No meetings, no distractions, auto-reply email mode: eight hours of creative thinking, using whatever methods they wanted to scrape off the rust, dig out of ruts or unshackle burdens to their innate creative thinking. It works.
Check out my upcoming book that holds the key to finding and tapping into creative nature in personal and professional life: Lifelines: Empowering Creativity in All Aspects of Life. www.DionMcInnis.com/books-media .