My First Creative Baby-Steps of 2018 – How Did I Do?

My Year of Living Creatively did not start with a bang. It didn’t even start with a fizz or pop. No, 2018 has begun very slowly. The main reason (and yes, I know it sounds like a pathetic excuse!) is that I had flu. I’ve not been this ill in a fair few years and ended up not being able to do more than sleep for the first few days of 2018. Luckily, I had already started the ball rolling with the first week of plans.

If you recall, in my last post, I had planned to restock the creative well which was running very dry at the end of 2017. Drawing inspiration from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way I intended to binge on art in the hope of finding inspiration and reigniting my creativity.

In particular, I wanted to:

  • Read some non-fiction to gain inspiration

  • Visit an art gallery

  • Listen to a new album

  • Watch or re-watch a film

Feeling as I did, I was dubious that I would find any creative inspiration, let alone complete a single one of these actions. However, a couple of days ago I finally felt well enough to attempt one or two so I went ahead and treated myself to a new album of music. Unconvinced that listening to an album would get my creative ‘mojo’ flowing at all, I reluctantly bought a copy of an album I’ve had in my iTunes wish list for a while now – Rachael Dadd’s After the Ant Fight. I studiously plugged in my headphones and began to listen…

After the first bars of the first song, my fingers were itching to write in my creative journal (another essential tool I’ll talk about in the next post). I had all sorts of ideas concerning journeys, jigsaws and loneliness (the creative mind works in mysterious ways!)

I haven’t yet had time to visit an art gallery but will fit in in some time soon now I’m feeling a little better. I’ve had time to flick through a few books on the history of witchcraft and witch hunting in England, and that has been quite interesting. I’m currently writing a novel that needs some research in this area and reading around the subject I’m working on always seems to spark ideas that go off on a tangent. They may end up in a song or poem.

It seems then, that taking the time to restock your creative well is well worth the effort. I think I’m going to build it into my schedule on a regular basis this year.

Listening to music, in particular, reignited my imagination. Indeed, I was reminded of the quote from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night,

‘If music be the food of love, play on’

Maybe it should be re-imagined for the purposes of the blog?

‘If music be the food of art, play on’

One thing that has emerged this week, is that starting things slowly caused me some anxiety. That’s interesting and casts some light on the creative mind and pressures of the twentieth century. I wanted to get it all done, be inspired at that moment. I think this is faulty thinking a little reminiscent of black and white thinking that I was taught was incorrect while studying Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. You cannot force creativity. You shouldn’t wait for it either; you can create a creative habit (again—I’ll talk more about that in the next post) but it cannot be forced in the way that we expect instant gratification these days. There’s an organic quality to creating that shouldn’t be spoiled by beating ourselves up about not meeting deadlines. Sometimes in letting something slip a little, we actually discover something new or see things in a different creative light.

In the next post, I’ll examine this in more detail. For now, see you soon. Happy Creating!

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