Category: Thoughts on Creativity
In 2010, I learned about Jim Henson’s Red Book. The Red Book was a journal that Jim Henson started in 1965 where he wrote down all the significant events that had happened in his life up to that point and then he continued to keep updating the journal from then on. He wrote entries all the way through 1988. There’s a fun website set up at www.JimsRedBook.com where you can see what Jim wrote down for that day in his journal. Jim wrote entries for major events in his life, both creative and personal and it’s an amazing record of some of the amazing things Jim accomplished in his life. A bulk of the entries were accumulated into a book called Imagination Illustrated which is well worth a read. Or two.
After discovering this fact about Jim Henson, I really liked the idea of starting a creative journal. I’m not talking about a journal where I wrote down ideas, though I have one of those as well. I’m talking about a journal where I write down, daily, what creative things I have worked on during the day. I guess the real term would be a Creative Record but I’m just comfortable using the word record.
So I bought a hardbound Moleskin, lined notebook and began keeping the journal. At the end of each day, before bed, I write down the creative things I did that day. I just write a simple line for each thing with the date. Here’s an example of an entry.
8/2/2011 − 2 Milk Minimum show at Flappers
– Continued work on Astral Factor for Cinematic Titanic.
– Met with Leslie Carrara- Rudolph about NorCal Shows
– PuppetUp Rehearsal at Henson.
That’s it. Just a line for each item and I do this every day. I started October 6, 2010 and have made entries for just about every day since then because of my goal of doing at least ONE creative thing everyday. With two minor exceptions, one being breaking my arm, the other recording the day I met someone who influenced me greatly, I only put creative things in this journal. It’s a fantastic record I can look back through to see what I was working on then and what I’m working on now.
It’s also a super great motivator to keep creating. I look forward to writing down the creative things I did each day and I always make sure there is at least one thing I can write down before going to bed. And I do it EVERY day. If I’m on the road or on vacation, I keep a list in my phone and the moment I’m back I write down all the creative things I did while away.
I finished my first creative journal on November 7, 2013 and I started a new one. I’m really proud of that first one as it is a three year, one month and one day record of everything I creatively worked on. It is SUPER fun to go back through and look at what I was doing on a particular day. It was so much fun to start a new one, what a great feeling of accomplishment. And even though I’m only a little ways into my second one, I’m already looking forward to the third!
So try out a creative journal. It doesn’t have to be a physical journal either. It could be a word processor file or a Google Doc you could update from anywhere. But give it a shot and see if it helps motivate you into being creative each day.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to enter writing this blog post into my creative journal!
Have you been doing something similar to this already? If so, let us know what it is and what your process is in the comments below.
Someone once told me I needed to ‘put a little more truth’ into my art. This person felt that things going on in my life should be expressed through the things I was creating at that moment. I can see this person’s point. What’s going on in your life can have a heavy influence on your creativity and lead you to new places. The problem was the current things going in my life were fraught with turmoil and my current project was a lighthearted, family friendly affair. Adding the ‘turmoil’ to that project would have been…wrong.
But that comment, ‘put some more truth into your art,’ really got me thinking about things. About putting truth, what’s currently going on in your life, into you art. I think this is a really good thing to do. The art you create should capture your true spirit. Your art should speak the things you feel deep down inside. The things that, maybe , you are afraid to say out loud. Your inner truth can make for some amazing art.
However, people should recognize that everybody’s truth is different. It’s not the same for every single person. Two artists would undoubtedly go about tackling the same subject completely differently. If two artists are feeling pain and heartache, one may create a somber piece that clearly defines the pain they are going through because that’s their truth. The other artist might create a darkly comic piece that points out the humor in the bleakest of situation because that’s how they deal with their truth. Two artists, same pain, two different pieces of work.
When I was in college I took a directing course in theatre. The professor was a very accomplished, yet very opinionated, woman. In the class I quickly realized I had a strike against me, I was male. This is not just something I’m saying because of sour grapes. I respected her and her work and was in a play or two of hers while in college and learned a lot. I’m saying because she was the type of woman who would regularly wear a shirt to school that would read (and I’m sorry for my sensitive readers) CL*T POWER. If you were a guy, you had a strike against you.
Anyway, the major class assignment was for each student to direct two other students in the classic ‘water’ scene from The Miracle Worker. If you are familiar with the story this scene is where Annie Sullivan finally gets through to Hellen Keller. As we were instructed to do, we all read the play and were to find our ‘take’ on the text. The ‘water’ scene is a powerful scene in the play and the major turning point and I knew that everyone was going to direct it that standard way it is written. Serious. Powerful. Stoic. Well, I wanted to find a different take and, as I do in most of my creative endeavors, I wanted to add some humor. Then it hit me, “Laughter can build bridges.” What if Annie could get Hellen to laugh and THAT’s what creates the breakthrough?
So that’s how I did it. Super big shout out to my actors in that scene (John & Kristin) who went with everything I put them through. I blocked a raucous scene involving climbing under and over the table, silverware flying and a dutch door that was the cause to much consternation to poor Hellen. When we did the scene for the final project it killed. I have several ideas as to why it killed. One, the amazing actors. Two, it was different. It was different from every other one of the same exact scenes because it was a different truth. The other scenes were fine. They told passionate, dramatic versions of the same story. They were one truth. Mine was another truth. Mine was MY truth.
The professor wound up giving me a B+ on the scene. Why? Who knows? I believe it was because she felt I didn’t take the material ‘seriously.’ I will tell you this, I’ve never forgotten how fun that was to do, because I was bringing my truth to the project.
So bring your truth to your creative work and never apologize for it. If someone tells you to put more truth in your art, ignore them. Your truth is not theirs. Putting your truth in your art is all that matters.
Are you someone who brings their truth to their project? What one creative thing can you point to right now and say, “That has a lot of my truth in it.” If you are comfortable with sharing, let us know in the comments below!
We are all busy.
That’s just the way life is. We’ve got work, we’ve got family, we’ve got a million other obligations pulling us in a million different directions. So the statement is usually, “I just simply don’t have time to create.”
The thing is, you do.
There’s plenty of time to do so if you just create a little bit each day.
Notice the words ‘little bit’ in that last sentence? Those are key. You need to realize that you aren’t going to write the next Great American Novel of paint the next Mona Lisa in a day. Things like that take time. Lots of time. But there are ‘little bits’ of time each day where you can create and if you are able to get yourself to do that every day, those little things will build up into big things.
A year or so ago I made a commitment to myself to do at least one creative thing a day, no matter how big or small. Some days the creative thing is just some sketches on the Paper app on my iPad. Sometimes the creative thing is some writing on a script or one of my novellas that I never get around to editing. Sometimes the creative thing is a stand up show. The point is that I wake up each morning and say to myself, “Today I’m going to do at least one thing that is creative no matter how small.” And I’ve found that if I do that, I get it done.
Some days, I get a whole day to work on creative projects. Mostly though, I’m taking time out before bed or early in the morning to work on creative projects. The thing is, stuff gets done. There’s that old saying, “Slow and steady wins the race.” It’s true. If you work on your creative project a tiny bit each day, eventually it’ll get done.
Writing two hundred and fifty words a day, every day, for a year is ninety one thousand two hundred and fifty words a year. That’s a novel right there folks. You’ve just written a novel in a year.
You are going to discover that I usually look at things from a writer’s standpoint. Writing two hundred and fifty words takes me about 20 minutes or so (I never said they were good words). Looking at other disciplines, what if you painted for twenty minutes each day? Or practiced piano for twenty minutes a day? That’s seven thousand three hundred minutes a year. One hundred twenty one hours (and some change) a year. What could you create in that time?
I completely understand that you may not have twenty minutes a day. How about ten? How about five?
Maybe one day it’s ten minutes and another day it’s twenty. It doesn’t matter. Little, by little, it will get it done. You will create
And that’s not even the best part. Imagine how good you’ll feel when you commit to creating each and every day. Knowing that your art, your passion, is getting done and you’re keeping your creativity alive.
Start tomorrow. Or today, if there’s time left. Plan out when you’re going to steal away for that twenty (or ten, or five) minutes and then…
This week I want you to try and challenge yourself to work on your create project a little each day. Even if it’s five or ten minutes, find some time each day to work in a little creative fun. How did it go? Were you able to do it? Let me know in the comments below.
To me, being creative is something that has become second nature. It is now like breathing or blinking to me. I just have to create. I’m not saying all of it is good, but I just have this, almost instinctive, desire to constantly create things.
It has actually been that way for a very long time. As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to ‘put on a show.’ I can remember recording the audio from cartoons off of television and then rounding up neighborhood kids and putting them through rehearsals to act out the cartoons in front of our parents. When mom and dad would have friends over I would organize the kids to do a lip sync number or something and then drag all the parents to watch it at some point in the evening. As a kid I also loved to draw, though I was never any good at it. I’m still not but I continue to do so anyway. I also loved to sing along with records and strum on plastic guitar (though I didn’t know any chords). I was just always trying to think of someway to entertain people.
I was very lucky. My parents encouraged all this. Sure, they would have liked me to focus a little more on my studies and less on drawing or writing, but they never told me I couldn’t pursue these passions. As I reached high school and started getting involved in theatre and band, they became very involved. Mom in the Drama Boosters and dad building sets for the shows. Again, I know exactly how lucky I am to have had that support and that is largely responsible for why creating is so important to me now.
At the beginning of 2012, for some odd reason, I just started posting daily Facebook posts and Tweets on Twitter that shared a short thought on some aspect of creating. I would sometimes sit down and think of them for the week or sometimes I would just go day after day coming up with one for each day. These daily postings seemed to catch on with people resulting in a lot of ‘Likes’ and ‘ReTweets.’ People would message me privately and let me know the little quotes were inspiring them to be creative in their daily lives and one person even wrote that because of these daily postings, they had left their full time job, partially, to pursue a creative career. Whoa, that’s heavy.
After a couple of weeks of these daily postings, I started to run dry. I had been keeping good track of them, but all the new thoughts I was coming up with were either duplicates of or very similar too ones I had put out earlier, so I stopped. But, as I said, I was keeping good track of them and the thought hit me to take each little thought and then write a three hundred to five hundred word piece on each of them and release them on this blog every Monday. My goal is to do this for a whole year so that by the end of 2014 I’ll have 52 short pieces on different aspects of creativity. I already have fifteen written, not including this intro post, so it’ll continue for fifteen weeks at least.
I would really love this to become something interactive as well. I’d love to hear your feedback on this “Creative Mondays” project as a whole and the weekly posts when they come out. Also, if you feel so inclined, I welcome you to share these posts with anyone you feel would enjoy them. Also, at the end of each piece I will post a question or prompt and I’d love for you to post your response in the comments below. Feel free to interact with other readers as well. Though creativity is not a decisive tops, I ask you please keep discussion civil and supportive. Comments will be moderated. Let’s get a really good creative discussion going!
See you next week for Creative Mondays #001!
This week’s prompt….
Introduce yourself and tell us what your main creative passion is. (Writing? Drawing? Painting? Sculpting? Woodworking? Digital art? Etc.) Tell us in the comments below!