Creativity and the divine

22 Jan

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?


Posted by on January 22, 2010 in Inspiration, Writing, Writing Routine


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5 responses to “Creativity and the divine

  1. JQ

    January 28, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    My muse and I need to learn how to communicate daily. I did spend at least 2 hours every day last week down in the studio, which was pretty sweet. Although the dishes/laundry/meal preparation departments all suffered as a result. :p

  2. LisaG

    January 29, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Two hours a day is impressive. If I was your muse, I would say “Forget the dishes! We’re making art, baby!”

  3. J.L. Martin

    February 1, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Thanks for the link to the Pomodoro Technique. I’d never heard of it and will definitely be giving it a try. — Janet

  4. LisaG

    February 1, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    I’ve used it a couple days, and its effective. But it is rigid. Which is why it works, I guess.

  5. J.L. Martin

    February 2, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Gosh – I tried it and it works. You’re right about it being rigid. I did find myself straying a little during the 25 minutes, but I was still writing/editing. It helped me finish a piece for a contest (Lake Literary Magazine Creative Non-Fiction Contest) so thanks for the tip! — Janet


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