Sunday, December 14, 2014

Candles and Creativity

It’s almost Chanukah, the holiday celebrating light lasting not while the fuel holds out but while light’s needed. How apt to revere that when nights are long, days short, and creativity can feel diminished, if not spent. During these short days, keep lighting candles—religiously or otherwise. Because creativity isn’t an external thing dependent on season or sunlight. The source of your creativity is inside you.

All of us start out so well; we’re curious, unafraid of new things, unembarrassed by failure, open to ideas, ecstatic over inventing how to talk and see and touch. Risk thrills us. But then life can interfere. Envy, shame, and fear exert their ugly power. We learn there are wrong answers. We stop seeing the world as exotic. Haven’t we read about it, heard about it, seen it all before? No! We haven’t.

Creativity meshes all the plausible possibilities out there, bringing the depths to the surface so insightfully and originally that only you could capture what you found. Innovation gave us Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Orwell’s Animal Farm, Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Joyce’s Ulysses. And so on.

Maybe the pilot light for your creativity always flickers, never does, or is sensitive to cold, wind, darkness. Maybe you’re already asking the right questions. If not, try these.

~ Does your creativity work best if you push yourself, or relax?
“Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.” ―Ray Bradbury

~ How do you generate new plots, images, scenes?
“Creativity is merely a plus name for regular activity. Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better.” ― John Updike

~ Ever try to mesh two seemingly incompatible ideas?
“Artistic temperament sometimes seems a battleground, a dark angel of destruction and a bright angel of creativity wrestling.” ― Madeleine L’Engle

How many artistic risks are you willing to take?
“An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Are you still discovering?
“The thing is to become a master and in your old age to acquire the courage to do what children did when they knew nothing. ” ― Ernest Hemingway

Are you waiting or hoarding?
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” ― Maya Angelou

Tip: Are your literal or  metaphorical candles lit? You already have all the matches you need.

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