I can’t always do it. I would never be openly showy or make any form of art before an audience. I don’t think I could. Challenges or prompts during writing group meetings and a few online are the most I can do in social settings where people know me. Other than that, my writing is a solitary effort, although I’m not exactly the poster boy of the garret-imprisoned scribe. I do write in coffee shops, libraries, parks, waiting or dining rooms, and even during my morning walks. But usually I write at this desk on this laptop.
Yet, I have times of emotional outburst writing. At least one reader seems to know or recognize exactly when that happens. I love the experience, and I find satisfaction when I read my scribble after the excitement has passed. If I can let go of something within me, an inner editor, judge, or critic, I like what happens. I feel so free. It’s about emotionally letting go of something.
I don’t listen to music when I read or write. I can only tolerate classical type without being distracted. I am not sure how it would work. I may try it sometime.
In order to give you an example for what I have in mind, I did some research on a well-known artist who I am familiar with. Well, I thought I was. Nothing about the art is independent of the artist—not the form, method, appeal, depth, or reputation.
Jonas Gerard of Ashville, TN, puts on an impressive show. The personal emotion he displays in making his art is the poster for explaining how I sometimes want to write, especially poetry. I have been to his studio, I have talked to him and several of his assistants, and I bought some of his work.
The youtube video below is an example of what I mean (he did a number of these). The vision of personal emotion (fake or real) is inspiring. But, artist or not, apparently old Jonas (he’s 78 or so) has had issues with untoward behavior (sexual harassment, maybe assault) in his past. I never put this guy on a pedestal or thought of him as anything more than a cool modern artist. Yet, I’m disappointed, angry, and confused. Because of what I learned, I considered not writing this piece or posting it.
But this is about me and I agree with what he says in the video about fear.
I want to write with emotional vigor displayed by Jonas Gerard when he paints. I want to let go, as he mentions. I love it when I can let go. It’s the temporary feeling and process I enjoy. The product, like all writing, will outlive the writer.
Look both ways. Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future.
Mind the gaps but dismiss excuses.
There’s too much information available to cover this area adequately. My research indicates that we become less creative as we age. Perhaps we do. But I would not say ‘less.’
We change with age: physically, mentally, and emotionally. I think we also change creatively. I don’t think we become less creative so much as our creativity becomes altered as we adjust to all changes in our lives. Certainly, significant aging and mental problems (dementia) and physical illness have their effect.
Blocks to creativity
Creativity is an attitude. Our curiosity sleeps with our creativity. The more curious we are, the more creative we seem to be.
There are too many blocks to mention each one. We all sometimes have blocks.
When I tell people that I am not as creative as they are, they often want to fix me – to give me advice on how to be more like them (do as they do, believe as they do, be as ‘open’ as they are). They would also advise me to be myself, blinking not an eye at the irony.
I don’t say that I’m not creative. Of course I am. Everybody is creative. But we are not all the same. My creative nature is more sensitive to that of other people, thus they are my preferred source of inspiration. I confess: I struggle with creativity. Many of us do. So what?
I think the blocks to our creativity begin at birth. We are born creative. As far as we know, it is a uniquely human trait. Children are wild with the creative process (in most cases) based upon the behavior we can see. We don’t know what we can’t see. We do not know the thoughts of others. We only hear what they tell us. Over time, our creativity struggles with life, society, judgement, our own human condition and nature, as well as that of others.
We don’t know what creativity is (no, we really don’t). We only know when we have it or when we do not. We can see it in the work or behavior of other people, but we cannot see into their minds and hearts. Like quality, we know it when we see it.
Value of music in creativity
I can read while listening to classical music (no lyrics), but no other genre. I must write in virtual silence. But I also find music as stimulating to my own creative process as anything. I have no idea how it would go if I did what a so many other artists do with music. But I know this: it helps in two areas.
One is in the magic of creativity itself. The other is in the execution of the work. Think of these two aspects as you watch Jonas Gerard (age 75) in the video below, creating with live music at his studio in Ashville, North Carolina.
“The rhythmic influence of music is an important part of his (Jonas Gerard’s) artistic process…. The music allows him to work unpredictably and intuitively, kicking it into another mode and bringing it home to a subconscious space where he can respond to the rhythm, and the direction the paintings suggest to him.” (from http://www.xanadugallery.com/2013/Artists/ArtistPage.php?ArtistID=7399)
The following is good regarding music.
“In addition to stimulating creativity, music can help contribute to the development of a more creative mind.”
“Creativity is within each of us and the very reason the world exists.” ~ Frank Fitzpatrick, Why Music, Part 6: Music and Creativity
Einstein was interested in both creativity and music. He tied the two, even suggesting he would be a musician, were he not a physicist.
“If I were not a physicist,” he once said, “I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music … I get most joy in life out of music.” ~ Albert Einstein from Alice Calaprice, The Expanded Quotable Einstein (as quoted by Fitzpatrick)
Afflatus [əˈflātəs/] (n)
Afflatus is a divine creative impulse or inspiration. The word literally means inspiration. It does not refer to the usual sudden originality, but to the staggering and stunning blow of a new idea, an idea that the recipient may be unable to explain.
Add music to this and creativity becomes limitless, in my opinion.
Duende [do͞oˈendā/] (n)
Duende is the mysterious power of art to deeply move us. It’s a quality-level of passion and inspiration that may be felt by anyone. It can be the artist as they work. It can be the observer of the piece, the reader of the text, the listener of the music, the watcher of the act or dance.
When you are next moved like this, speak to the spirit within you, “Ah, my Duende, you feel it too?”
Mental health and Creativity
This is confusing, and for some of us, maybe a bit dangerous. No one is more artistic, creative, or on a higher creative plane because they suffer a mental malady. We can be both mentally ill and creative. How one effects the other is unknown.
There is sufficient research to indicate some correlation between the two. But nothing indicates that being drunk, high, depressed, or any other mental condition causes people to be more creative. Normal healthy people can be, and are creative. Throughout history, the same can be said for troubled artists and creative souls. It’s the difference between ‘because of’ and ‘in spite of.’
I can now move all books on creativity from my writing table to the bookshelf from whence they came. I want to thank Elizabeth Gilbert for Big Magic and I am grateful to my friends and fellow artists/writers who suggested it. While I still have a lot of issues with what Gilbert proposed, I wouldn’t have taken the time to do the work had I been in total agreement with her.
From whatever source your creative ideas flow, may they flow to you in abundance. May you be orgasmic, chilled and thrilled with ideas, concepts, and plans. May you make the best of all your days being creative and doing your thing (art, writing, music, etc.) and enjoying the universal gifts shared by others. May the spirit of duende haunt your heart and mind, thus bringing you to a spiritual bliss as only we humans can experience.