Creative Seasons and Not Being a Robot
Updated: Jun 8, 2019
I talk a lot about all the ways we can boost our creative productivity. I care deeply about helping others to find strategies that keep the ideas flowing, and I'm all for powering through those times when it seems we have no good ideas.
But often, some of the best advice must be accompanied by some equally-good, but contradictory advice. That's just the way the world works, friends. I don't make these rules.
So, when we're struggling to keep the creative juices fresh-squeezed, when we're showing up every day but still feel like we're hitting a wall, remember:
You are not a robot.
Our conceptions of creative identity can really taunt us. And we live in a culture that may lead us to believe that, if we are not making something right now, this very minute, then we are not makers.
If you're not writing, then you are not a writer.
If you are not painting, then you are not a painter.
If you are not performing, then you're not a musician.
And this is a big fat lie.
While I'm of the opinion that, if we are going to wear the hat, then we need to Walk The Walk, I also have had to recognize that there are times when we must be forgiving of ourselves. Our creative selves have seasons, and it is unreasonable to expect 100% productivity all of the time.
Just because you're not art-ing right now, doesn't mean you're not an artist.
Don’t diminish yourself. Don’t delegitimize yourself. So you're not showing in galleries- this doesn't mean you're "just an amateur." So you've not performed on a stage since that gig two years ago- this doesn't mean you're not still a musician.
Creative is something we ARE, it's not something we DO.
And just as we are human BE-ings, not human DO-ings, no one can take our artistic identity away from us. The only thing that keeps us from being artists is our own lack of conviction.
And since we're on the subject of labels:
The more specific we are with the parameters on our identity, the more we fence ourselves in. There's no need to re-invent our artistic selves every time we decide to try something new. We are allowed to try a new medium, a new subject, a new style, and we do not have to justify ourselves to anyone.
Sometimes, we get so caught up in the artistic identities we create for ourselves, that we can't take our efforts seriously when we dabble in anything else.
The world may try to pigeon-hole us, but that doesn't mean we have to do it to ourselves.
We are complex, multifaceted, interdisciplinary beings, and whatever we do to express ourselves creatively is legitimate.
However often we decide to do it, is often enough.
And however long our breaks in between periods of creativity, we need not question our own legitimacy.
Recently, I was selling my work at an art show, and met a little girl who was eyeing my paintings with all the severity of a critic. She turned to me and said, with utmost confidence, "I'm an artist, too you know." She proceeded to tell me how she liked to paint, and draw, and how she painted lots of horses, but other things, too.
There was no way anyone could tell this six year old that she wasn't an artist. No patronizing adult was going to diminish her- because she knew.
And that's all it takes.
#ArtistGoals, my friends.