Oftentimes, I talk about logical ways to deal with the creative process. Setting regular goals and routines and developing habits have been highly effective for keeping myself on a productive schedule, but there is a side to this creative process that I haven’t focused on nearly enough. The emotions.
Our emotions fuel so much of what we as artists are capable of doing. Just glancing at famous paintings or hearing the open few notes of a powerful song conveys a wealth of emotional information. We instantly interpret what the artist wanted us to feel when experiencing the piece.
No wonder the process of creation is filled with emotional turmoil.
And yet, we cannot allow ourselves to completely give in to every overwhelming feeling that would seek to guide us through our artistic journey. And why not? Because you would never finish anything.
How often do you sit down in front of your artistic project and feel the burning desire to be somewhere else – anywhere else? I’ve heard writers say that they “don’t enjoy writing, but enjoy having written.” Meaning, the process of creating is hard and draining, but the accomplishment of finishing a project is amazing.
Giving Yourself Permission to Create
One of my major struggles right now is relaxing enough to allow myself time for other projects like writing fiction and writing music. With the blog, I can see clear examples of how the work here can help others, and I can see momentum building. Ironically, when it comes to the process of my other creations, I don’t permit myself the freedoms that I write about here. (This whole self-inspection thing can be kind of a pain sometimes. Right?)
Yes, we all have lots to do. Those dishes aren’t going to wash themselves. Someone needs to pay the bills. Work is still important. And on and on the list will go.
But… are you giving yourself permission to create? Are you purposefully overcoming your negative emotions – the Resistance, as Steven Pressfield calls it – and giving yourself the freedom to create?
I know this about myself: when I focus solely on all of the tasks of my life’s neverending to-do list, I can get pretty down. It’s the process of taking time to focus on what matters in life that helps me find joy. Spending time in relationships; taking care of myself physically, spiritually, and emotionally; and giving myself to causes that matter more than me: these are the processes that empower me to face life.
The process of creation is both emotional and spiritual. Regardless of what you do or don’t believe about God, the creative process connects us to something bigger than ourselves. We engage in a process of communication with the rest of the world, and our communication is far more than simply a collection of words. It is a conveyance of emotion. It is a message of our understanding of the world.
Isn’t that process worth giving yourself permission for? On the surface, it just looks like you’re trying to find time to paint, or to write, or to play the guitar, but the truth of it is an emotional and spiritual process that can convey who you really are.
I know all of this sounds a bit abstract. It’s hard to come away from this post with a series of practical steps to take other than this one: give yourself permission to create. It’s worth your time. You’ll have plenty of other pressures in life telling you that you shouldn’t bother, but – for all of us – give yourself permission to create.
We need to hear what you have to say.
Image by Thomas Hawk.