Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

Creative Juice: A Dozen Key Lessons for Creative Dreamers

December 22, 2011

Click here for the full article.

Content excerpted from The Joy Letter
A free, bi-weekly ezine with practical tools
for creative dreamers

Some highlights/overview:

Lesson 1: Characteristics of Creative Geniuses

Some of us have it. Some of us don’t. Some of us just haven’t accessed it fully.
1. The Creative Channel is on all the time. They simply have to tune in, and boom – they’re off in that wonderful, rich creative place where inspiration lives.

2. They feel things deeply … and need to express it. I notice this particularly around my friends who are actors … their emotions run so freely and powerfully, that they feel everything twice as intensely. Furthermore, they let you know it.

3. They have natural empathy. Geniuses tend to know how you’d feel at any given moment, so they have a need to give away their feelings. An interviewer once asked Broadway composer Steven Sondheim if he could write a song about anything, and he replied, no – but that he could write about anyone, as long as he knew who the character is.

4. They find beauty in unlikely places the rest of us miss. I’m thinking of the 19th century French artists Toulouse-Lautrec and Monet who found enduring beauty in common haystacks and down at the heels prostitutes. True geniuses
love the bittersweet, the forgotten, the simple.

5. They’re not afraid to cry. The creative genius knows that tears are the juice of life, whether they are tears of happiness, despair or simply deep relating.

6. They’re different and often pay a price for it. Creative geniuses often have childhoods marked with ridicule or isolation. And those tough times can continue right on through adulthood, though modern times have made such non-conformity more acceptable. I’m thinking of people like Oscar Wilde, Frida Khalo, Orson Welles, Michael Jackson, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Andy Warhol.

7. They are brave. Many a genius is trained by social ostracism to be brave and strong in standing up for their work. They know their work is valid despite what the crowd says, and they stick by it steadfastly. And public opinions can sway, often long after the artist’s death. Think of Vincent Van Gogh, who only sold two paintings in his entire lifetime.

8. They are prolific. Typically, creative geniuses are always creating. It’s simply what they do. Cole Porter, for instance, wrote more than 800 songs. And he wrote them wherever he went: on luxury cruise decks, or weekend jaunts to the country. Porter, who was notoriously stoic, said he finished one of his songs while waiting for rescue, after his legs had been crushed by a horse.

9. They simply can’t do a half-baked job. Look at all the geniuses of the world, like Michelangelo, who literally changed the world because they refused to settle for less. In fact, Michelangelo was famous for literally eating and sleeping with his work, yet never being completely satisfied. About his work in the Sistine Chapel, he said; “I am no painter!”

10. They love their work deeply. For this example, I turn to my own father, John Falter, who was an artist. A friend asked once what he’d do if he could do absolutely anything in the world. He replied, “I’d go up to my studio and paint.” For some artists, this love is the big one. Michelangelo, who never married, said: “I already have a wife who is too much for me; one who keeps me unceasingly struggling on. It is my art, and my works are my children.

Lesson Two: How Sex and Creativity Connect

1. It’s all about surrender. The more you can get out of your head, and simply let go, the further into your process you will go. And the grander the result will be.

2. The real communication is entirely beyond words. When an actor gets up to deliver a monologue, or a poet composes a sonnet, the words take you only half the way there. The rest happens between the lines, in the emotional truth with which it’s delivered. Same with sex. And without that emotional truth… well, it’s all a lot of hooey.

3. The spiritual usually comes into play. My belief is that all of this gets handed to us on that big Universal platter. And your choice is to accept or decline. So truly authentic creative or sexual endeavors can’t help having a mystical or divine underlayer.

4. You can’t do it unless you really, truly want to. OK, sure. You can fake your way into bed with a relative stranger, or stumble along writing a book you don’t care about. But you’re not going to sustain it. The sex will be cheap and easy; the manuscript will sputter and die. Why? Because you don’t really, truly want to be there.

5. Both require bravery. Deep connections make us passionate lovers, and fearless communicators. We act from our most vulnerable spot; the little piece of ourselves that’s most hidden and protected, yet full of the greatest power and truth.

6. Lust makes you stupid. But love makes you wise. I saw this little quote on a therapist’s bulletin board, and it is so very true. When it comes to creating, the lust for glory and fame makes us do silly, inauthentic things we later regret. It’s the same with lust for inappropriate people. On the other hand, when we get it right – boy, is it right! Authentic relationships and creative endeavors are fine, powerful teachers who leave us much wiser, and much stronger.

7. You’re not going to be satisfied until it’s over. Not pursuing that book, or business, or creative project that keeps bugging you is like walking away from sex mid-act. Beginning may be awkward; you may feel shy and vulnerable. But once you get going, the passion to continue takes hold and you simply cannot stop until you are complete. (On the other hand, you can walk away easily from half-baked acts of love or creative projects. That’s how you know when it’s the real thing.)

8. The more you give, the more you get. You’re not going to have a knock-out painting exhibition if you hold back with the brush. Nor are you going to get Lover of the Year if you lay back and simply wait to receive. Both require energy and the desire to give.

9. Both make you feel much more alive. Enough said.

10. At their best, both are all wrapped up with love. Both sex and creating require the generous, uninhibited sharing of your heart. And the more you can open your heart and let the floodgates open on your soul, the more profound will be your experience. And your impact.

Lesson Six: Avoid Creative Anorexia

We can do what we want, but only if we are brave enough to seize the initiative — even if it means not listening to Mom and going it alone. The urge not to provide ourselves with what we need in life is a sort of creative anorexia, 12 deprivation that is all about a distorted picture of who we are and what we deserve…

Perhaps the road to what you want won’t be fast, easy or lined with gold, but it will be one hundred percent honest. And that provides riches you can’t even begin to count. So get out there, make a transitional plan you can stick to, and begin to do what you want. I’m here to say that you do, indeed, deserve it.

Lesson Seven: Sure-Fire Creativity Inducers

TRY THIS: The Do’s and Don’t of Meditation
The Do’s …

  • Do check in regularly with God, or whom ever you recognize that great big Source to be.
  • Do allow yourself enough time to get still and relaxed.
  • Do let the answering machine pick up.
  • Do notify others around you that you need some quiet time
  • Do sit on a pillow or cushion if you’re seated on the floor that’s high enough to let your knees naturally slope towards the floor; this supports you back.
  • Do keep a sweater or shawl nearby in case you get cold.
  • Do take everything off your lap.
  • Do keep a notebook, pen, tape recorder, or an instant messager nearby if you want to make a few notes or do some automatic writing.
  • Do allow your body to move or sway if you so desire.
  • Do be patient and allow your practice to improve over time.
  • Do fully extinguish all flames and burning embers when you are finished meditating.
  • Do remember to say thanks.

Lesson 9: Just Ask

The article goes on, but I say enough said.

Lesson Ten: What Skiing Can Teach You about Your

If you’ve ever looked down a black diamond run, you pretty much know exactly how terrifying this sounds.  Then again, I’ve only been skiing three times in my life, so I’m not really one to talk.  That reminds me of her Lesson Three on remembering how little I know and to be patient…

Lesson #1: You can’t improve without landing on your can from time to time.
So why, at age 43, am I even trying to ski bumps when the rest of my middle-aged lady friends are happy on the lovely, flat, groomed trails with nary a flake out of place? Because I can no longer ski with my children or my husband, and so am being forced to improve.

Lesson #2: Learn the hard stuff while you’re still young.
I learned how to ski thirteen years ago when I married a skier. My ability level rose to intermediate, and stayed parked there for the last eleven years. It 22 always seemed too hard and too scary to ski the advanced ‘black diamond’ trails, with their steep embankments and their unexpected outcroppings of bumps.

Navigating the moguls in particular seemed impossible to me. Yet, ironically enough, this is what my husband and my eleven-year-old daughter love to ski the most.

Lesson #3: Whatever your resist in life will eventually come to haunt you.

To remedy my problem, I decided to face it head on. I invited my daughter to go up to the mountain with me on a Saturday, and teach me how to get down the stuff she loves, and she graciously agreed. We got off the chair lift, and she led me to her favorite field of moguls, a trail innocently enough called MacKenzie. “Just ski it,” she advised, and set off to prove her point, zipping this way and that through the first patch of moguls, three-footers that defied any kind of skiing logic I could come up with. I had no idea how I was going to ‘just ski it.’

That’s when the words of my friend Christine, a former ski instructor, came back to me: “Don’t look at the trail below you. Just figure out where you’re going to turn first. Then look for your next turn, and your next. Pretty soon you’ll
be down it.” Historically, I’d always stood at the top of a hard trail, nursed a good five to ten minutes of panic, then made a decision I couldn’t ski the thing, and promptly slid my way down to the bottom, mostly on my butt. Or I defiantly took my skis off and walked down along the edge. Or I harangued my husband for a good few minutes. Never, once, had I just calmly tried it. “Let’s go, Mom!” called Teal, waiting patiently. So I set off, looking for the spot for each turn I could make. I turned once and my skis, quite improbably went up over a mogul, down it, and around the next one. I turned again, and set my sites on the next turn. Again and again, I kept finding the next turn — and suddenly it dawned on me. Not only was I skiing the dreaded moguls, it was exactly like pursuing your dreams.

We want to stand at the top of our particular challenge, and scope out exactly how we’re going to make it work. But we can’t really know that until we’re deep in the middle of the work. The greater the challenge, the more you must rely on your gut wisdom to carry you through, telling you where to turn and what to do next. You cannot stand at the top of the run and figure it all out in advance. Life simply doesn’t work that way.

Lesson #4: Trust yourself — especially on the scary stuff.
I found my way down MacKenzie that morning with surprising ease. I fell a few times but somehow the automatic Voice of Resounding Shame didn’t resound quite as loudly. And I learned another amazing thing: if you’re skiing under control, when you fall on a steep slope, you can pop right back up again.

In the past, when I’d skied the Beginner and Intermediate terrain, getting up again was hell. I’d have to take off a ski, get on my hands and knees, and struggle upright again. But here, the angle of the mountain, or possibly my adrenaline,
literally pushed me right back to my feet.

Again, my mind went to life parallels, and I thought of the way we respond when we’re deep in pursuit of our dreams. The stronger our commitment, the faster we get right back to work after we hit a snag. We simply want to feel that magical flow again.

Lesson #5: The steeper the challenge, the faster you get back on your feet.
Whether you ski or not, challenges most certainly await in some corner of your life. I invite you to ski straight into them, and just keep looking for where to turn next. If you keep your course steady and methodical, and you don’t start racing out of control, even your falls will provide moments of quiet strength.
Happy trails.