Just as an athlete suffers physical injuries and losses the event, a creative person suffers emotional injuries. When your book doesn’t sell, the gallery doesn’t accept your painting, and the store is unable to sell your photography artwork or craftwork. We need to heal from those emotional injuries. Just as an athlete who ignores a sore muscle may tear that muscle further, keeping him out of the game for longer, if a creative person ignores our emotional injuries we will ultimately cripple ourselves into silence and numbing inactivity. Acknowledging our wounds is the healing balm that will start the healing process.
Every wound must always be viewed as a potential gain causing us to look at our creative work from a different angle. “What can I learn from this wound? What can I improve to prevent this from happening again? How can I use the energy of this pain to propel my work going forward?”
I don’t want my creative injuries to handicap me. I’ve worked long hours and undertaken steep learning curves to get this far in my creative journey. So when I’m injured, I sit in the mud puddle of sorrow and feel the pain. I spent years being a positive thinker, pushing away the troubling thoughts of this moment. But all that did was ignore what is really happening to me at the time. Ignoring emotional pain festers like puss festers in a wound. Like a wounded athlete, rest in that wounded space, feel the pain and acknowledge how you feel, whether angry, frustrated or sad at your loss of creative fitness. Mourn your loss.
I brain dump my angry and hurt thoughts in my journal. I get it out of my head onto paper when I am feeling the pain. Then I stop complaining and dress my wounds with the ointment of care. Wipe my tears, get up and take a step forward. Wounds heal after they have been taken care of and after they have been attended to. Just as a child feels better after a parent has put some ointment and a bandage over the wound, so to we need to be kind to ourselves and tend to our wounds before moving on.
One sentence, one page, one chapter at a time. Learning from our injury and improving our technique. One stroke, one canvas, one photograph at a time. Focus, persistence and consistency build strength and confidence in your creative ability. Over time, with correct practice, we regain creative strength and performance and we gain valuable experience from the previous injury. Experience that we can add to our creativity, and gain a stronger approach to our endeavours with renewed clarity.
I shall become a master in this art only after a great deal of practice.Erich Fromm
CORRECT practice makes perfect. It’s no use just getting up from a creative loss or hurt and resuming the same practices without adopting the changes learnt from the injury. I remember a young girl practising every day the piano homework my music teacher had set me for the week. I enjoyed practising because I enjoyed the challenge to play the piece perfectly. Each week I could move on to a new piece of music. If I had just practised what I thought was right, I would not progress, I would have to repeat the same homework until I applied it to my playing. It was the same procedure when I learnt to play the guitar in my teen years and learnt to sing as an adult.
Learning IS a creative journey. Enjoying existing skills coupled with improving skills makes the journey rich and rewarding. That’s practising in a FLOW state of mind. Then looking back over the years of your creative story, it will unfold as an exciting adventure story instead of a horror story. The ebb and flow of what is known and what will be known.
I hated long-distance running and swimming during my school days. Instead of focusing on the athletic style along the way, I focused on the end. “When will this end?” Instead of allowing ourselves to be aware of and enjoy the creative journey of each endeavour, we can tend to focus on the length of the trip. “It’s taking so long to finish,” we tell ourselves. Each day we engage in our creation is one more day with some motion in it, and step by step moving toward a goal can be enjoyable. Creativity lies not in what is done but in what we are doing.
In a sense, no creative act is ever finished. You can’t say we have learnt to write, paint or make because there is always more to learn and different varieties of the same creation. This doesn’t mean that the work accomplished is worthless. It simply means that doing the work leads to new and better work yet to be done. When we focus on the process, our journey retains a sense of adventure and curiosity. If we focus on the finished product, the same journey can seem sluggish and ordinary.
Our focus on finished products stems from our consumer-oriented society. No longer do we have to make the chair to sit on or make the clothes to wear. We just order them or go and buy them ready-made. We have grown impatient with the process of creating. Is the only thing that we are creating the object of our creativity – the book we are writing, the painting, the clay work?
How do we switch our minds into our creative space while living in a ready-made world? Do we even think about who made the chair, who made the clothes that we wear? Carpenters are creative people creating what they love to create. The seamstress, the shoemaker. They are creating what they love to create. How sad for the people who do not enjoy their work. If we are fortunate to create what we love to create, let us not take that opportunity for granted.
Satisfaction of one’s curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life.Linus Pauling
In daydreaming about pursuing our creativity as a full-time career, we may fail to pursue it part-time, or at all because we fill our thoughts preoccupied with earning money from our creativity rather than enjoying the doing. We look at creative work by full-time artists and tell ourselves that our creativity is not good enough, is not relevant or in vogue. Of cause it’s not in vogue, you haven’t created it yet.
Endless daydreaming of what our life would look like if we were working full-time in our creative field, we fail to embrace the small creative goals that we make along the journey. This kind of look-at-the-big-picture thinking ignores the fact that a creative life is founded on many small steps and very few large leaps.
Our dramatic energy belongs on the page or on the canvas or in the clay, in the act of creating, not wasting that energy on ‘what if’ or ‘maybe’ thoughts about what we are going to create. Work with what you have rather than languish in complaints about what you don’t have available to you. Take a class, learn a new skill, and research ideas from other creative people. Don’t aim for a big change in your life, instead aim at creating what you can in the present moment. Focus on where you are right now in your work, your home, your relationship and your current creative piece that you are creating. And enjoy the process.
Beverley Joy © 2022 Simply Create 2 Share
Read my verse The Mud Puddle of Memory Lane
Reference: The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron