How To Lose Your Desire To Create Something Beautiful

I make a lot of mistakes as a parent and I constantly find myself having to adapt my anal retentive, control freak tendencies, but if there is one area where I try to let loose and let go it's at my dining room table during art time.

Two of my children, Meaghan and Mary Bernadette in particular,  can spend hours drawing, coloring and painting.  They're not inhibited by failure.  If they don't like what they've done, they start over and try something new.  They've got the confidence of mini-Vincent Van Goh's or Mary Cassatt's.

I adore it.

I just finished reading Austin Kleon's Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative (loved it!) and in it, he shares a cool work method he's adopted which requires the use of two desks in his office--an "analog" desk and a "digital" desk

His analog desk is filled with the same kind of stuff I keep in my supply cabinet for my girls' artwork:  pens, papers, index cards, etc.  He uses these supplies and his hands to create ideas.  The second desk he keeps, his digital desk, stores his laptop, monitor, and all the technological devices he needs to actually edit and publish his work.

Kleon's suggestion to artists to use an analog work station made me think about my girls and how they are as happy as pigs in a mud bath when they are cutting up paper (thousands and thousands of pieces of paper) and painting and using glitter and crayons and paste.  It made me think that should they ever feel called to creative pursuits, they will most likely realize that calling at my dining room table where they spend hours and hours working on their craft. 

It also made me realize that somewhere along the line, I quit getting messy.

I love to write my stories and share them but over time I adopted the all to easy habit of retreating to my keyboard and banging out the words.

I quit scribbling on paper and cutting it up and hanging notes all over the place.  I quit using notebooks for the random ideas and stories that would come to me or the cool words I liked.  In a way, I quit enjoying the process of creating ideas.

To make matters worse, I'm really guilty of indulging in the biggest destroyer of creative energy out there--I spend too much time on the Internet. 

The fastest way to get sucked dry creatively is to surf the web, yet I often find myself flitting from site to site reading all the other insightful, witty and pertinent ideas from all the other creatives in the world.  After a few wasted hours online, any motivation I had to write the book I want to read or the blog I want to follow is lost.

To combat this, Kleon suggests ingesting good stuff to help collect an idea income.  He uses a great quote from Jim Jarmusch who said:

"Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows.  Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul.  If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic."

He does not say stay on the Internet and read about all the other ways everyone around you is being creative.

No, no he doesn't.

He does say take time to sit around and do nothing: 

"If you're out of ideas, wash the dishes.  Take a really long walk.  Stare at a spot on the wall for as long as you can...Take time to mess around.  Get lost.  Wander.  You never know where it's going to lead you."

After reading his snippets of advice, I realized I needed to use my hands more and use the Internet less.  So for the next week,   I pledge the following:

  • I'm going to try to curtail my Internet usage so that I can get my creative juices flowing again.  
  • I'm going to take my kids to the pool and let them swim and I'm going to come home and take a nap.  
  • I'm going to finish reading Les Miserables and the four other books I've started.
  • I'm going to find a notebook so I can jot down the fleeting story ideas that pop in my head and then I'm going to write them.
  • And I'm going to carry my camera around with me and look for opportunities to use it. To help me with this, I'm participating (along with my e-friend, Tina) in a 30 day photo project entitled the August Break 2013.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll start to write the things I want to read and take the pictures I want to see.


Today's theme: breakfast. At my house, we dine with Superheros.

Honey Bunches Of Oats Never Looked So Good.