My Journey into Creativity
I know that some of you who are reading this may be asking yourselves: how did he get here, how did he get started on this journey to try and become a creator?
I wish I had an answer for you, not necessarily a good answer but at least a semblance of an answer, because I don’t. I really don’t know how or why I got here.
I’ve recently turned 50 and all of the sudden, like a volcano that’s been simmering some magma for centuries and is now ready to erupt, I started to develop this crazy need and impulse to write. I’m not sure where it’s coming from or even why now, but what I do know is that the need to express myself grows within me every day to the point that I can’t really keep up with the thoughts and ideas. For every short article that I finish I create about seven more drafts and work in progress outlines — all in an effort to try and capture the ideas and feelings for later development, before they go back into the dark corners of my mind.
It could be that all this was triggered by the many conversations that I’ve been holding in the last few months with my best friend around the topics of magic, art, entertainment and creativity. We’ve spend countless hours trying to come up with definitions and explanations and this certainly has been stimulating my mind but not sure that it explains my urge to write things down and publish — basically given the world an unfiltered feed into my own mind.
What I can tell and share with you are some thoughts and ideas on how I think I got here because, again, I don’t really know. At lest not at a conscious level which would facilitate me giving you the answer that you are looking for.
At the same time that I kind of feel bad that I don’t have an answer for you I’m also glad that I don’t, because I think that our journey into creativity is very personal and each and everyone of us has to find their own unique path.
But, in an effort to try to be of some help, here are a few pointers.
Consume A LOT OF CONTENT. Whatever fancies your muse, consume it and consume a lot of it. As long as you are not consuming things that can be harmful to your health, mind or those close to you, then I don’t think that you can consume too much. For the last few years I’ve been reading upwards of 30+ books a year (this is not a competition so don’t compare yourself to me. Whether you read more or less it’s up to you) on a variety of topics: Product Management (my day-to-day job), teams, culture, leadership, strategy, creativity, art, writing, close-up magic (my passion) and more. On top of that I consume probably an equal amount of articles around these same topics.
Spend time inside your mind. Have conversations with yourself (most adults won’t publicly admit it but most of us still carry our “imaginary” friends from childhood with us. They still make great ideas and dreams conversationalists). Play devil’s advocate on your ideas. Twist them, rip them apart and put the pieces back together in a different configuration. Rinse and repeat. Keep talking to yourself, get to know yourself better. Ask yourself WHY a lot. Keep asking and answering until you start coming up with some answers that resonates.
Capture your thoughts and ideas. A lot of people live by their daily journaling. I’ve never been into that. I mostly talk to myself until an idea starts to synthesize and repeat itself in my head and then I reach for my laptop or iPad, open some sort of writing application and start writing.
Another thing that I’ve been exploring and playing with, seeing that I don’t always have my laptop or iPad with me, is carrying a mini digital recorder with me (I’m currently using the Sony ICD-TX660 and so far gets the job done) — I supposed you could install an app on your phone but for me getting recording is a lot easier and faster with it. I literally carry it with me 24/7. It’s in my front pocket when I go for a walk or while I drive and it’s always on my night stand table when I go to sleep (thankfully my wife sleeps with ear plugs on, so so far this hasn’t cause any issues). So whatever medium and tools you use, make sure that you have a way to capture your thoughts and ideas whenever and wherever they may show up.
Review your ideas often but don’t publish them yet. It’s important to spend time mulling, chewing and processing our ideas over time so that they can grow, evolve, develop, mature, improve and sometimes even to decompose and fade away (“Kill your darlings” William Faulkner). The more time you spend with your ideas the better you’ll start to understand them and, overtime, see if they hold water for you or not (remember that the creative process is deeply personal so your thoughts, ideas and creations need to mean something to you. Not to anyone else).
Share and discuss with a few selected individuals (here I’m careful not to say friends of family. Not that there’s anything wrong to share with them but they may not be the most objective ones when giving you feedback or challenging your points of view). At some point you’ll have to share your creativity-in-progress (for me creativity doesn’t turn into creation until we cast it out onto the world, exposing ourselves to criticism and rejection, and sometimes love and approval) with people that can give you feedback. Just make sure that you share with people that can give you objective, hones, direct, and constructive feedback. Once you have the feedback make sure that you capture and let it simmer for a while to see if, and if so why and how, it should evolve and shape your own ideas and how you are expressing them.
Share with the world. Like I said above, for me a piece of creativity-in-progress doesn’t become a creation until we expose it to the world. Creativity can not exist nor survive without others interpretation and reactions. A bunch of paint on a piece of canvas is not art until the creator shows it to a stranger who decides that it’s art or not. A piece of twisted metal doesn’t become a sculpture until someone sees it and is moved, or not, in an emotional manner. The real challenge, and I think in large part the true trial and proving ground of an aspiring creator, is that to cast our creations into the world requires courage.
By displaying our creations we risk ridicule and rejection and this could bruise some fragile egos. But the only way to keep our ego in check so that we can attend to our calling for creation is to hit publish now. A lot of people will never see our creations, some of them will see it but not engage, some will engage and don’t like it (even hate it), some will engage and like it and a few will engage and see their own reflection in it. That’s how we find our people, our tribe. That’s how we become creator.
Happy journey into creativity!