A new friend recently told me to borrow his copy of Twyla Thwarp’s The Creative Habit — if not from the desperation I wear in the bags underneath my eyes, but for the lack of balance I more than once mentioned I now carry around in my life as though it were my keys and wallet.
I was once highly creative. Not only did I tap into this side of myself frequently, I wore it like a badge of honor. Now — not so much. Stress happened. The daily grind happened. And shamefully, I have to admit, I let some of it go because I started to deem those that leaned into their creative sides as childish and dabblers in the unimportant. But that’s because I lost sight of how just the opposite of unimportant creativity is. It decreases stress, yes, but it unlocks this part of my imagination that when untapped, closes too many windows that once brightened an already superficially lit room. It amazes me how much more of the world I can see when I’m creative — how much more empathetic I am, more intuitive, more enlightened, and how much more beauty I find in what was once mundane and boring. I want it back.
So I’m taking my friend’s advice; I’m bringing back balance by making creativity a part of my daily habit and not just as a bonus feature I add in when I have the spare time. It’s a necessity.
In reading this book, I found some good exercises I thought I would share here and put into practice, as balance is something I chase after in this blog.
The first one is a “Creative Autobiography” designed to “force us to go back to our origins, our earliest memories, our first causes. We change through life, but we cannot deny our sources, and this test is one way to recall those roots.”
- What is the first creative moment you remember? My twin sister and I wrote, directed, and starred in our own plays.
- Was anyone there to witness or appreciate it? We performed them for our family. I think they appreciated it — at least there’s plenty o’ video as proof!
- What is the best idea you’ve ever had? In general — leaning into authenticity and vulnerability in writing or in all creative efforts alike.
- What made it great in your mind? This released my inner critic (somewhat), allowed me to more deeply connect with an audience, to find myself and what’s true to me at my core, and for me to lean into love, empathy, and connection for other human beings.
- What is the dumbest idea? To lean, instead, into clichés and/or avoiding saying certain things in my writing that may shock others
- What made it stupid? I allowed self-consciousness to get in the way of authenticity and true connection with others through art, which to me, is what good art does.
- Can you connect the dots that led you to this idea? Yes, through a series of personal events, I started becoming more self-aware and confident, and this allowed me to remove some of the mental blocks I had placed in my own way.
- What is your creative ambition? To connect to others in a profound and real way
- What are the obstacles to this ambition? My self-criticism and fear of judgement that creeps back in from time to time, which is growing less frequent (and it feels so good). To be completely open, it’s more of a superficial answer, but it feels true — time. Lack of time.
- What are the vital steps to achieving this ambition? Carving out time — where there’s a will, there’s a way (right? I’ll tell myself this for now — and monitor the truth!).
- How do you begin your day? Stretching, coffee, bathe/dress/face/hair/organize things for the day/check e-mail
- What are your habits? Bad- checking e-mail before setting aside and going to bed Good- Stretching in the morning, coffee first!, making lists and setting them aside
- Describe your first successful creative act. Come back to this.
- Describe your second successful creative act. Come back to this.
- Compare them. Come back to this.
- What are your attitudes toward: money, power, praise, rivals, work, play? MONEY- ruins some people, don’t need a lot of it, would like a lot more of it; POWER- people who don’t know how great love is, crave power; people who crave power make me sad; PRAISE- expecting it is not a good idea, it should focus on process rather than end-product, feels so dang good at the right times (what are the right times – probably all the time if it’s genuine; RIVALS- why?; WORK- how people make money, lucky to do something I love, though sometimes, when it’s tough, it’s just a thing I do for money; PLAY- NECESSARY!
- Which artists do you admire the most? Federico Garcia Lorca, Martha Graham, Pedro Almodovar, Lena Dunham (This kind of question is hard – I want to go on forever, but I’ll stop here).
- Why are they your role models? FGL – look up duende; MG – appreciates the beauty in what’s ugly; PA – takes risks, little fear seems present in his work, celebrates individuality, LD – humorous, authentic, embraces her weird, lack of apology
- What do you and your role models have in common? I aim for these things — a sense of humor about what’s real, authentic, risk-taking, passionate, compassionate, empathetic, seeks to connect to a wide audience (reaching for the far corners left with tucked away dust).
- Does anyone in your life regularly inspire you? I’m going to stop here and pick up on the rest at a later date. It’s time for this creative being to get some creative rest!
- Who is your muse?
- Define muse.
- When confronted with superior intelligence or talent, how do you respond?
- When faced with stupidity, hostility, intransigence, laziness, or indifference in others, how do you respond?
- When faced with impending success or the threat of failure, how do you respond?
- When you work, do you love the process or the result?
- At what moments do you feel your reach exceeds your grasp?
- What is your ideal creative activity?
- What is your greatest fear?
- What is the likelihood of either of the answers to the previous two questions happening?
- Which of your answers would you most like to change?
- What is your idea of mastery?
- What is your greatest dream?
Answer some of the questions below or copy this post and share! I’d love to see how others respond.