Creativity is my life blood and perhaps yours as well. From the time we pick up a crayon and scrawl across a piece of blank paper or a pastel hued chunk of chalk that leaves dust on our hands and draw circles on the sidewalk, we are immersed in it. If we are fortunate; although this should not be the exception, the adults around us support our first endeavors and all those that follow.
I was listening to an interview with a duo out of Portland, Oregon called The Druthers, fronted by Erin Adkisson and Kirk Duncan. The interviewer asked them if their music was “a romance, a marriage or an affair.” Kirk answered that it wasn’t a marriage, since that was too formal, that it seemed like a romance. but it still felt like work at times. Erin said it was “An obsessive affair. It is something I think about every day and go crazy over.”
I apply that to my writing. I would say it is all three. It has the commitment and devotion that marriage calls for, the excitement and illicit rush of an affair and the passion and desire that feeds a romance. I have often thought of The Muse as an insatiable lover who awakens me at all hours to have its way with me. Not only do I not mind; I welcome its lascivious attention.
A writer friend named Theresa Byrne had this to say when I asked her about the relationship she has with her Muse.
“Writing works through me, I believe. That’s how it feels now. The words and stories and pieces come in dreams, downloads, insights and daydreams. The words (or ideas of words) themselves unfold when I put attention to them. They dance around in my head, leading me. The writing opens me up, not the other way around. It’s the words themselves that guide me.”
Another wordsmith, Courtney A. Walsh claims that for her, writing is “oxygen.”
I share that experience with both of them, as I say, “I can’t NOT write.”
When you were a child, were you surrounded by coloring books, crayons, paints, clay, paint brushes, colored pencils, notepads, stickers and building blocks? As an adult, do you still have them? This eternally ageless seasoned woman has markers, feathers and bubbles in the back of her Jeep since I never know when I will be called on to use them with kids of all ages.
Were you told to color inside the lines or to lip sync when you sang? Many adults had their creativity squelched by such direction. Singer songwriter Harry Chapin performed a song that highlights an important theme with regard to the freedom and creativity that are often trampled in the educational system, called Flowers Are Red.
Play Is Not Just for Kids
The benefits of play and creativity include:
- Stress relief
- Becoming a more effective problem solver
- Being in the here and now
- A sense of accomplishment
- Hands on meditation
- Operating without rules
- Having fun
- If in the company of others, a sense of community
- Enhancing resilience and physical vitality
- Improving the powers of observation
All of these are helpful tools in the process of emotional healing and addiction recovery.
Cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman’s newest book on creativity and the human mind, Wired to Create (co-authored with Carolyn Gregoire) expresses that creative people share these qualities in common:
- Imaginative Play
- Openness to Experience
- Turning Adversity into Advantage
- Thinking Differently
Kaufman, who is the scientific director of the Imagination Institute, has done extensive research on the topic and discovered that creative people are able to “go beyond what is to seeing what things could be, and adds, “Imagination is undervalued in our society.”
Art Heals the Heart and Mind
Creative therapies are staples in many inpatient and outpatient clinical settings, including those who treat
- Bi-Polar Disorder
These conditions respond well to art, creative writing, music and movement therapy. I witnessed first- hand while employed as a social worker in an inpatient acute care psychiatric facility, the impressive response to such modalities.
One incredibly talented co-worker who was an Allied Therapist named Peggy Tileston, MA, MT-BC, CMSll-BC, CYL devised effective ways for patients to explore and process the issues that brought them to the setting.
Drumming, drawing, dancing, Laughter Yoga and journaling were modalities she offered there. When my scheduled allowed for it, I would actively participate.
Examples of unfettered imagination and constrained imagination
When Alyce was a child, she was surrounded by creative cheerleaders who included her parents who would make up silly songs with her, dolls with whom she would act out plays, blankets that when draped over dining room chairs and twin beds would morph into tents, empty boxes became child size cars, her bicycle into a horse, hair brushes transformed into microphones into which she would belt out songs in the mirror as she imagined herself a rock star on stage.
As an adult, she became a writer and graphic artist, loves her work and is well compensated for her talents.
Sean grew up in a home in which only hard work and academic achievement was valued. Although he was passionate about music, his father who toiled at a job that financially supported his family, but was clearly unhappy, reinforced that John needed to get an education so he didn’t end up “a working stiff like your old man.”
He was told that “musicians are bums and druggies.” He graduated at the top of his class, acquired a job that paid well, but left him too tired at the end of the day to pursue his musical career. To cope with his own despair at feeling his talents going to waste, he would go to bars to hear other musicians perform and simultaneously drown his sorrows.
Enter the Imaginarium
- Take time daily to observe your environment and jot down what you see, hear, taste, smell and touch as you make it a full sensory experience.
- Journal about your varying emotional states.
- Write a poem (it doesn’t have to rhyme)
- Sing along to the radio and make up for in enthusiasm what you may lack in formal training or talent.
- Take an object and list all of the things you can make from it.
- Cook without a recipe.
- Make up a song and sing it in the car or shower.
- Dance in the living room to your favorite rock anthem.
- Gather together magazines, scissors, glue stick and poster board and create a treasure map or vision board that contains images and words that represent what you are calling into your life.
- Make up a dance that reflects how you are feeling.
- Use body paints to make yourself and friends the canvas.
- Scrapping booking your memories.
- Plant a garden.
- Paint a mural on an inside or outside wall of your home.
- Arrange flowers.
- Pen prose that describes the life you desire.
- Write your memoir.