Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Who Gets To Create?

Interesting question, isn't it? Do you need a license or a diploma to create? Of course not. But I bet you've had that terrible feeling at some point in your life that your artistic work wasn't worthy of being called creative. Or perhaps you have forgotten about the creative aspect of your work. You're so busy bouncing from gig to gig, excited that you are doing what you love to do, but scared that the end is around the corner, that you've forgotten that you are a creating soul.

It is easy to ignore the importance of creativity when that is a basic tenet of your job. We literally forget to be creative. Those of us who work in fields that aren't traditionally recognized as creative (think accounting, manufacturing or engineering) rarely consider the possibility that we could be creative on that job. Then there's the expert factor. Our society is so overrun with experts – expert witnesses, expert talking heads in the media – that it is easy to think you're not allowed to partake in an experience if you're not an expert.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you an expert who is not an expert.


Jack is my neighbor and he isn't. Jack is always around and then not around. I wouldn't call him homeless, but I would call him living on the fringes. When he isn't doing odd jobs around the hood, Jack paints. Paintings. Or he draws. Drawings. He scrounges all of his materials. Here's one of his works.

I'm not here to discuss the merits of Jack's work. I'm here to tell you what Jack's work does for me. Jack's work reminds me to be an artist. Jack's work reminds me to be creative.

All of us get to create. Some of us are blessed with more talent, opportunity or discipline, but all of us have permission to create. That's what I learn from Jack.

By this point in this post, there are many of you who are saying to yourself, “Get real, Heidi. Easy for people who do this because they love it, but I need that next gig so I can pay my bills.” Or “I need to get cast in that role so I can get to that next step in my career.”

That would be your mistake. Yes, you are correct that you do need to get cast, find gigs, network, produce songs, etc. This is especially true if you are supporting yourself with your art.

But you also need to be an artist. You need to find that piece of what you do that is unique. It's there, under the layers of musts.  The feeling that drew you to this work in the first place. Because while all of that business does matters, in the end, the ability to express your uniqueness is what is missing.  I'd be willing to bet it is a big part of why you are not getting cast, getting more gigs or fielding more interest in your writing. Not all the time, it is true, and we will discuss that later.

Look, you're not getting where you want to be anyway, so why not give it a shot? Why not return to what made you fall in love with being an artist in the first place? Or maybe you won't return. Maybe you'll find a new way to love the art you create, whether it is a new approach (I'm going to learn this song without using YouTube) or a new form (I'm going to try acting instead of dancing).

Why? Because then we are expressing our deepest selves. And that, my dear friends is what this is all about. Watching Jack with his dumpster-dived markers and particle board canvas reminds me of this. There he is, intent on one thing. His art. Couldn't care less what I think. He's creating and he's fulfilled. Proud to show me his signature when he finishes his work.

Do you do that when you create? Or do you check your emails, dig in your bag for a bottle of water, put your music on the stand and let your brain and body act bored with the routine?  What if you started from a place of freshness and newness? What if you cleared your brain and thought of nothing but the art you were about to create? What if you started at the end of the monologue and worked backwards? What if you took your sketching supplies or your computer to a different space on the planet, whether it was a different room or a different coffee shop? What would happen?

Just wondering.....


  1. Heidi! Glad to see you are taking up a new pursuit, and glad to see it is one in which you are particularly well-poised to share wisdom.

    I am currently struggling with my own creative block in my graduate thesis work. Trying to come up with a meaningful, innovative experiment has been so deflating, I've never felt more unproductive in my life. Various mentors say that good ideas come to you when you're relaxed, that you cannot force them to happen, and yet I know I have a limited amount of time to make this all happen. The deadline is fuzzy and uncertain but still very real. I don't know how to deal with that.

    Anyway, on occasion I will look here for inspiration =)


  2. Hi Anh! Thanks for your comment. I certainly hope help. Of course I have ideas for you, some of which you might have already considered, but here goes:

    1)Dream big. If you could do any experiment, if money, time and resources were unlimited, what would you do? Write down all the ideas, including the crazy ones.

    2) Set a real deadline. I set deadlines and bust through them (you can read fail) all the time. But they keep me on the task. Make sure you are realistic about the deadline date. A deadline that is coming too soon will definitely be counterproductive.

    3) Lower your expectations. Crazy, after I said dream big, right? Yes, consider experiments that accomplish the requirements. Leave out the pressure of meaningful and innovative. See where that takes you. Might make you feel crummy, but might also help you eliminate some of the extra pressure of finding the ultimate experiment.

    These are three ideas that came to me this morning while I was walking the dogs. If you want more, let me know.

    Oh, and congratulations again on getting married!

  3. I goofed up on the second sentence!
    Should read I certainly hope Creatavita can help.