I recently started reading Eric Maisel’s newest book Creativity for Life. Maisel’s books are always insightful whether your art is writing, acting, singing, fine arts or crafts.
In the first chapter, Maisel defines creativity as having three elements: loving, knowing, and doing. In other words, people are artistically creative when they love what they are doing, know what they are doing, and are actively involved in making art.
Of course we know that on any given day that is sometimes easier said than done. We all have moments, days, weeks, months, and maybe years where we ask ourselves “why am I doing this?” We tell ourselves we don’t know what we’re doing. We avoid getting our butt into the chair.
In this first chapter Maisel does an excellent job of describing just that conversation. We tell ourselves we love what we’re doing and then become dismayed when someone else creates something similar and receives sudden recognition. Perhaps we set our standards so high and compare ourselves to the masters in our field that nothing we do can compare. We kill our self-esteem and question our talent.
Maisel poses several questions to consider when you are beating yourself over the head in this situation.
What do I mean by creativity? How is it different from talent? What do I mean by talent? How do I define talent?
Do I believe that I can be more creative? In what ways? What must I do to be more creative?
Do I love my art enough; do I feel passionate about my art? How can I test whether I love my art enough? (Can you imagine yourself doing anything else?)
How can I increase my love for my art?
Do I work hard enough on my art (in hours and in giving it consideration)?
What does it mean to be talented in my field? (Think about skills and abilities needed in your field, how many are needed to do good work, do they matter equally, and are any absolutely necessary.)
How talented am I? What are my strengths and weaknesses? Do I possess the skills and abilities needed?
If I feel I lack skills and abilities, do I consider them innate or can they be acquired through learning or enhanced through practice?
Have I developed strategies for mastering my “disinclination” to work?
Maisel then provides nine strategies to consider:
Examine creative blockage: Does anxiety, guilt, fear or ignorance keep you from manifesting your full talent?
Work on a mighty theme: What is the biggest, most ambitious project you’d like to tackle?
Affirm that you can create or perform: Write or speak your affirmations. Affirm that you can do what you attempt.
Carry your work differently: If you disown your work or treat it indifferently, it has no life within you. Be enthusiastic, curious, disturbed and obsessed about your work.
Change formats: If you work on a small-scale, make something large. Work within set limits or outside those limits. Shift your perception of the limits of your medium and the limits of your talent.
Turn things on their ears: Work in a different style. Change color palettes. Break habitual ways of thinking, seeing, hearing, and doing.
Discover ways of working more deeply and effectively: What distracts you? How do you handle distractions? Fend off and dispose of these distractions. Recognize how you work best.
Track your creativity: When you sink into uncreative periods, remember the three components: loving, knowing, and doing. Choose a project and dive in. Learn a new technique. Visit a museum or gallery.
Make every effort to bring passion, knowledge, and will to your art making; you will become more creative and manifest your talent.