I’ve been trying to find some inspiration to feel creative again after what feels like bit of a slump.
I ordered a book I heard about called Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I actually managed to read it less than 24 hours after it arrived. That never happens, yet Parkinson’s Law (or the universe?) granted me the time.
I’ve added some notes and takeaways below, because I figure if it helped me, it might help someone else.
Caveat to this book– we may as well name up the concept of navel gazing white privilege here. It’s not lost on me that I have privilege to have space for reading a book and creativity at the moment.
When we speak of making time for these things, yes it is SO important, but it comes with the assumption that your basic needs for food, rest, health, security, a home (and so many other things) are met.
Something that’s not really acknowledged too much in this book from 2015.
That being said, I did take some gems from this book (these are my paraphrased notes I jotted down into my phone):
On creativity and fear
Your fear will always be triggered by creativity because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertainty. Fear hates an uncertain outcome.
This is why we have to be careful of how we handle our fear. If you “kill off” your fear and you can kill off creativity.
Perfectionism is just a high-end , haute couture version of fear.
Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird) never wrote another book because she was scared. What could have happened if she’d just churned out 5 cheap and easy books just to keep writing? What could she have created by accident? What could she have created even just to forget the pressure of being Harper Lee?
Creativity and making things is a natural human instinct
Go back in history and you find your ancestors were not passive consumers. People were makers. They made stuff with their hands. This is where we all come from. The earliest record of humans making art is 40 thousand years old. The oldest evidence of agriculture is only 10 thousand years old.
Attempts at originality can feel forced and precious. Authenticity has a quiet resonance that never fails to stir me. Just say what you want to say then say it with all your heart.
On the idea that creative pursuits must be profitable to be worthwhile (an inner voice I often struggle with!)
To yell at your creativity “you must earn money for me” is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about and all you’re doing is scaring it away because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that.
The outcome cannot matter. Fierce trust asks you to stand strong within this truth.
On not having time to be creative
For most of human history the vast majority of people have made their art in stolen moments using scraps of borrowed time
Approach your creativity like how people approach an affair – notice how people having an affair always find time even if it’s 15 mins – “go hide in that stairwell and make out with your art…lie to everyone about where you’re going in your lunch break…what are you willing to give up to be alone with your beloved?”
On being too attached to the idea of finding a passion
On following your passion being unhelpful advice – Passion can seem intimidatingly out of reach. Curiosity is milder, quieter, more welcoming and a more democratic entity.
I’m keen to go down a rabbit hole of books on creativity, fun and inspiration so if you have suggestions for books, please let me know!
Remember, returning to a creative practise or a hobby only needs to be tiny steps. One page of a book or a colouring in. One sentence even. Picking up the instrument and tuning it.
When we constantly “I’m too tired”, all we are doing is oscillating between distraction and rest, and that’s not living.
Mum as You are podcast
In Episode 31 I talk about the void between distraction and rest. The idea that so many of us are spending our days switching between distraction and rest. Where is the middle? Without a ‘middle state’ (positive goals and finding a flow state) we will just drift back to distraction again and again and again. We seek escape from distraction by crashing. We cope with a day of overload by collapsing in front of the tv or scrolling because our brains are fried from over stimulation and the idea of ‘doing’ anything with effort seems too much. But if you only break away from distraction into rest and don’t replace it with a flow, genuine fun and a positive goal you are striving towards, you’ll always be pulled back to distraction. We need flow state.
Social media companies don’t really want you finding flow state. It’s not in their best financial interest to have you working on hobbies or spending hours getting lost in fun without them. They want your eyeballs on their platform for as long as possible.