The ideal, for any artist, is to stay creatively healthy, happy, and productive. Begin by recognising that the creative self is something that has specific needs and requires nurturing and you’ve made a start. What does the creative self need? What is the nature of creativity?
If asked, most people would say that creativity is just making stuff. But no, making stuff is the end product. Creation itself arises from the very core of our being, from a deep, deep wellspring within. It is the expression of something that comes out of the Self but also comes from somewhere beyond ourselves.
It is both simple and complicated. Simple because creation is, first and foremost, play. Not worthy, sensible, serious stuff but simple child- like wonder and playfulness. Complicated because we grow so far from our simple selves and the world demands so much that goes against the grain of that simplicity and inner freedom that we are often in danger of draining the life out of ourselves and our creative natures.
If you watch a small child play, they are completely involved, totally present and alive in the moment, absorbed, endlessly fascinated, always curious, experiencing the world with all their senses. There is little or no sense of what they can’t do. Once you've left childhood, play is dismissed as being childish and a waste of time. But play is not only how children express themselves, it is how they learn about the world and their place in it. It is how they innovate and find solutions. It is how their imaginations and their hearts learn to fly. As Einstein once said “ Imagination is more important than knowledge”.
Your creative self is just like that small child. Yes, if you are a working artist/writer/musician there will be hard work and serious stuff but at the heart of it all you must keep the wonderment, the sense of adventure, the fun, the lack of strictures and rules and all the other crap that the world says you need in your life but that will suffocate the life out of that creative happy child. Do this you and you create a place within your life from which all the art/words/music/dance comes. This is the anchor, the starting point, the bedrock of your creative life from which all else proceeds.
This can be a tricky balance to try and maintain. The world clamours ever louder for our attention and there a million and one ways to drift away from that bedrock. Knowing what you need is the vital starting point, from that you can begin to work out how to keep your creative self sane, happy and nourished.
I will leave you with a couple of quotations from Joseph Campbell that have been constant reminders of where my heart has needed to be . .
“I don’t know whether my conciousness is proper conciousness or not, I don’t know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hold onto my rapture and that will bring me both my conciousness and my being.”
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you all the time.”
Joseph Campbell, Mythologist.
Next time . . . . . What Not to Do or How to Keep your Creative Sanity