Have you heard of TED talks? I LOVE them – they are an intellectual guilty pleasure for me. As I was preparing to teach a class this year, I stumbled on this one, watched it and then re-watched it immediately after. It is about 18 minutes and I know everyone is busy, but it doesn’t have visuals that require watching, so you can just listen if you are so inclined.
Elizabeth Gilbert talks about how, in ancient cultures, it wasn’t believed that the creativity, the brilliance of a person came from within them. It was a part of them, be it daemon or genius or even muse, a relationship between two cohesive beings that collaborated to create things of greatness.
This works well because if it is horrible, well your genius that day was sulking in the corner instead of helping you and if you were brilliant, you couldn’t take all the credit because the genius helped. It really is a very sane way of thinking about it and Gilbert explains with much more eloquence than that paragraph.
But if that is how you choose to think about your creativity, you have to remember that the genius has to be cared for and nurtured and loved. This is done through feeding the genius and devoting quality time.
See, if your creative *gas tank* is empty, you don’t have anything left to give. Sure, we would all love to sit down and just write all day, but that would have the same impact on us as driving for 10-12 hours would have on the car. Lights are flashing and we are stuck on the side of the road, watching others fly past us with full tanks of creativity. We have to immerse ourselves in the creative, be it art or music or dance or whatever, so that when we go to write, we have something there to pull from.
But we still need to spend the time. A while ago, I wrote a blog post where I compared the writing relationship to a marriage relationship, and I think that is absolute truth. But if you have every watched or experienced down points in a long term relationship, you will know that often happens when the effort to spend time with each other fizzles. Same with writing. No, you can’t spend all day every day writing, it would zap you, but if you don’t spend some quality time, in some portion, every single day, when you need that genius most, he/she/it won’t recognize you, won’t know how to spend that time with you.
What do you do to nurture your genius? Have you created a look for it yet? How do you like to keep your creative tank full?