Tuesday, September 25, 2007

This is How It Began...

"Creativity, it has been said, consists largely of re-arranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know." George Kneller

NOTE: I worked on this for several hours Sunday, imagining it would be my Monday BlogHer post. By late Sunday night, I knew in it's current form it wouldn't cut it. I had had a great kernel of a concept Sunday morning, don't recall exactly what it was, but got way off the intended path. By Sunday night, I knew it wouldn't cut it; Monday I reworked parts of it into a passable article.

If you look back to the early days of the BlogHer website, you will find that I was a prolific poster. As I built blogrolls for my beat, kept up with "hobbies", and reached out through others' blogs for the best writers, I was constantly amazed by what I found. I spewed each find immediately onto the page like mental morning sickness. While my posts were frequent (at one point, almost every other day), they were small and a bit unfocused. I believe one post was exactly one sentence. A perfectly good sentence, but still...

What was happening?

I was teaching myself a new skill. While I was an experienced blogger and writer, I had always written in a personal style. Proselitizing for my corner of the blogosphere, I found myself inexperienced, uncertain, and unsure. I covered my wariness with a profusion of words hoping nobody noticed. It was a living lab experience in the creative process and I was rushing through the first phase: Blossoming. Fully engaged in learning the blogs and the process of sharing with you. It was fast, fun, easy, play.

Until I hit the wall.

I work with a remarkably talented group of editors. I am frequently in total awe of them. They write funny, focused, thoughtful, skilled articles beside which my own paled. Step two of creative learning set in: resistance. I was not worthy; these blog finds were not worthy; I didn't belong here.

Ah, resistance. The witch of the process, resistance is your inner-critic. She shows herself as boredom, frustration, and over thinking. Although we want her to be unwelcome, she is important to the process, acting as the Balance to the Blossoming. This is the point where work slows down or stops.

Resistance comes to visit early in the process and may revisit frequently. If you sit down and have a cup of tea with your Resistance, you will learn about yourself and your work. Resistance will have good ideas if you're willing to listen. She'll ask you: what if?

To me, she asked: what if you tried to focus your posts on a topic, linking several blogs together in some coherent way? The result was the format I often use in "round up" posts: Digging the Dirt, Knitting It Together and Crafting A Life. The partial title informs the reader and focuses the article, allowing me to search for a common thread or two among the blogs.

Relax into the work. Read blogs again. Write less but better. I was OK, but it started to feel too formulaic. I needed to shake things up a bit.

It was time for creative phase three. Anahatakatkin explained this step when she wrote about ping-ponging:
When I reach my resistance phase or in a sense a place of critical mass, I bounce to a new
material and a new perspective. ...The trick seems to be to move even more quickly and impulsively at this point. Remember your critic will be trying to grow but by using your impulsive instincts you learn to tame the critic
faster. With Ping Ponging you can gain a real momentum in the artwork and trick your brain into a new place. Change your focus ... Anything that will hone your intuitive creative eye and switch your perspective.
I think of this phase as Mixing It Up. New perspective lead to examining Podcasts and YouTube, Social Media and Etsy (well, etsy is coming). Recently it's lead to pieces like this one: more personal than anything I've written here the past. The process continues: Blossom, Question, Listen, Mix It Up. Breathe. Blossom, Question, Listen, Mix It Up. Breathe.

How does this apply to our hobbies?

How often do you find yourself rushing out to buy some new supply for an exciting project you've read about? Or tearing apart your stash to find that perfect thing you know you had? Yep. Blossoming.

How many unfinished projects have you hidden away? After beginning them, you lost steam. You moved on. You met resistance. Grab one of those projects, sit and have a discussion with it (tea truly helps). What do you need to do to move on with this?

How many of your projects have been a near-copy of something you've done before? (I will not put knitting socks in this category, though some people might.) Maybe it's time to mix things up a little.

Breathe. Cast on. Knit. Count. Bind off. Breathe.
Breathe. Iron. Cut. Stitch. Press. Breathe.
Breathe. Choose an image. Place. Journal. Breathe.
Breathe. Choose a green thing. Plant. Water. Grow. Breathe.

How do you define your personal creative path?


The Creative Process: Working with the 5 stages to Overcome Creative Resistance.

The Copywriter's Crucible: Why Creativity and Good Copywriting Comes in Waves.

Ajay's Writings on the Wall...A blogger's tips on keeping the creativity juices flowing.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

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