Thursday, September 17, 2015

Questioning Your Own Creativity

I still sometimes question myself whether I need to continue with this series of daily writings or not. After all, I am not the fanciest wordsmith in the world. I will never be the next Brodsky, Pushkin or Shakespeare. My passion for writing is probably not even based on my love for language. I used to be so very picky about language - I am not any more. Nit-picking is great for being a proof-reader or editor, which is definitely one skill any writer needs. But when you're trying to give a birth to your own creative self, to give a chance to create freely, without obsession over the mistakes you make along the way, that very skill is in your way. Yet that critical, super critical voice is always there, inside of me. It does not go away completely.

Yet here I am, still posting my impromptu writing, unpolished, unfinished pieces, sometimes only glimpses of ideas, sometimes only wobbly experiments, in hope that I will break through my own insecurities some day. And maybe, hopefully, it will also help someone else to overcome their insecurities. We all are mostly taught to be "good girls" and "good boys" - meaning responsible, reliable, trustworthy. Being creative, being free, play like a child... well that is reserved for children, and for very little children at that. As soon as you enter school - you enter the adult world.

We hear a lot about protecting children from abuse, from bullying, from all the unkindness that there is in the world. We hear a lot about feeding those who are hungry. About donating clothes or money to those who are in need. And that is all very much needed in the world, and not only in the third world countries - there are still plenty of hungry, suffering, abused children in wealthy countries as well.

But there is something that is as important as feeding people and giving them physical support, physical security - and that is helping them to see their own uniqueness in the world, their own worthiness. It is supporting actively their interests, their passion for life, for creativity. Life IS creativity. Ever changing, ever developing, ever growing. So many of us grew up repressed either by a political system (as in my case) and a harsh history that caused people to be afraid of everything that does not fit in a prescribed box, or by strict religious rules, when again you must fit in a box that is designed for you - or else. So many of us, despite our talents, only dip our toes into creativity from time to time, constantly looking for the approval of so-called "authorities". So who are those "authorities" anyway? I find that the artists who are the most free with their own creative flow never ever criticize others - rather, they are supportive and encouraging, always able to find a few kind words to say to those who are only beginning their creative journey. Harsh critics are usually analytical types who are not comfortable with their own creativity, who are stifled by a bunch of rules which they themselves came up with, based on what they see in art. Artists do not come up with rules - critics do! It's their job, it's their bread and butter to come up with rules for art. Artists might use rules and might not - they are free to choose the tools which suit them for a particular task or project, or a period of their creative life. The brightest of critics, those who are more in touch with their own fire, recognize that. The rest of them just continue earning their bread and butter by ridiculing anything that does not fit in their boxes. That stuff which doesn't fit will later be called "a breath of fresh air" or even "genius". Later, when both the artists and the critics who criticized them, are long gone.

Children are like artists - they don't play because the rules of the game fascinate them. They play because it's fun! And some games work out, while others don't - it's all just parts of the process, the creative process. It's later, when children enter the world of education, that they will start questioning themselves, doubting themselves, as pretty much all that school education does is measuring everything in order to fit the box. Rare teachers recognize that it's what's outside the box - that's what is truly fascinating. Those are genius educators, as rare as genius critics. As for both professions, you really need both, the analytical mind and an open creative mind and heart, to be genius. As well as for artists, it also helps to develop both, but the openness and playfulness and experimentation always comes first.

What I'm trying to say here is, without rough drafts, without walking in darkness, as a blind person, trying to feel his way, there is really no creativity. If all we have as our tools are the list of rules and the critical analytical mind, then there is simply no art. We need to let children play, without criticizing them for it, shaming them, disciplining them. We need to provide them a safe environment not only in a physical sense, but in a spiritual sense as well. We need to tell them how amazing they are, each of them, over and over again. And we need to tell ourselves that too - because children will learn not from the words we say, but rather from the attitude we have. And if our attitude towards our own creativity is critical, then that's what children will pick up from us - they will start doubting themselves just as we doubt ourselves. We all need encouragement, children and adults.


1 comment:

  1. Well said!
    I sometimes think I was put here on earth, not to be a great artist, but to encourage others to tap in to their creativity. To show it can be fun and playful and easy. If I can do it, anyone can!
    I think you are spot on about the critical analytical voice getting in the way. We need that after we have played and created to assess and fine tune. Too many people bring it out too soon!
    I think schools could teach more about brainstorming.
    I am being a teacher to Mr Actor at the moment doing homeschooling for a while, and will investigate these ideas with him :-)
    Wishing you all a quick recovery! Love Jazzy Jack