I just re-watched Elizabeth Gilbert’s Ted Talk on nurturing creativity. Gilbert brings up the link between creativity and suffering in our culture, and talks about alternative ways to view creativity. For example, the ancient Greeks and Romans viewed creativity as a gift from some sort of divine entity. These entities would help artists shape the work, and help the artists keep some psychological distance from their work. In other words, if your work sucked, it was partly the entity’s fault. If it was brilliant, the artist couldn’t take all the credit. By viewing such brilliance as a loan from the divine, artists were free to do their work without worrying (as much) about tapping into the zeitgeist.
My first reaction was to sniff. ” Who needs a muse? Great writing is 90 per cent sweat, with a tad of inspiration.” But not only does a muse alleviate some pressure, allowing artists to create their work without worrying about how great it will be, it also makes some sense. I’m sure most of us have created a work that didn’t seem to come from inside us. Every now and then I’ll be writing a poem or piece of prose that seems to come from the ether, rushing on the page. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.
But the rest of the time, I plow through the tough stuff. After reading Lija K’s interview with Marina Endicott, I decided to apply the Pomodoro technique to make sure I’m here when my muse does decide to drop a pile of inspiration on my lap. I’ve also been keeping a dream journal to help me tap into that creative well. Beyond that, there’s not a lot I can do. If my muse strikes while I’m driving, I’ll follow Tom Wait’s example and tell her to go bother some other worthy writer.
What about you? How do you view and nurture creativity?