Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Practising the art of creativity

That title is a bit unusual.  Practise creativity?  Huh?

During my summer break I had the privilege and luxury of attending Summersong music camp.  I did lots of things everyday that I really enjoy - sang a capella, sang Motown, explored body percussion and rhythm and turbo-charged my song writing with a lyric writing class.

I learned a lot of things about my creativity.  Here are some of them:

1. Regular writing really does help.  One of the main purposes for creating divacultura was to reestablish a daily writing habit.  I knew that this was an important part of being a writer.  Well I was right!  Regular practice has sharpened my writing instruments and made me "match fit" when it comes to writing.  I was never stumped or blocked or hesitant when approaching the exercises for this class.

2. Free writing is valuable.  Anyone who has ever read anything or talked to anyone about writing has probably come across the concept of "morning pages".  Perhaps you've had a few valiant attempts, but found it unsustainable or wondered what the point is.  It was demystified for me.  Ten minutes each morning, written upon waking before anything else is done, does uncover some gems.  There's something that's accessed by the brain when it's not fully awake.  The new bit is to immediately read what I've written and circle the diamonds in the dust.  There are always some and they are interesting. I've discovered an amazing ability to link things that my waking self would never think to put together. These gems may spark a song idea or another piece of writing.  I either write unprompted or use an exercise from The Five Minute Writer.  Although, once you start, you never know where you will go.  This practice of writing without judgement or editing really allows your critic to get out of the way.  This sits well with my idea that in creative and artistic endeavours, even bad work is still work

3.  Ten minutes is a very small investment to make.  I used to strive for five pages; then I tried 20 minutes.  It was all too long.  Ten minutes is a good amount of time.  If I want to keep going when the 10 minutes have expired then I do!

4. Silliness and playfulness is the root of my creativity.  I know this, but somehow in the hurly-burly of serious, important life, it is overshadowed.  The beauty of living in a creative, supportive community is that people don't think you're weird just because you're playing.  The final product need not be silly, but often that playfulness allows me to access a deeply original place.

5. Explore! Do different things and find ways to break out of your patterns.

6.  Observe the details of life and what's around you.  Use more than just sight.  We have at least four other senses!

7.  When people give you feedback that says "you have a real way with words" or "I just love how you turned that phrase" say thank you.  People's reactions can be interesting and valuable.  I learnt that writing I considered to be mundane was heard as original by listeners or readers.

Having learnt these things - again! - I share with you now two pieces I wrote during that class.

In the first exercise I was given a single cherry to eat.  My task was to really experience that cherry and then write a poem about it.

Perfect and small
I want to eat it all
There is but one
I place it on my tongue.

My teeth close down
The cherry weeps
As the juices seeps
My face does frown - 

It's ecstasy and agony
Just one

Not a masterpiece, but a satisfying little piece.  This encapsulates the idea of point number 6 above.

The second exercise illustrates point number four above.  Our task was to explore metaphor.  Metaphor is something I use easily and unconsciously, but when charged with the specific instruction, I had to really think.

One night I was wearing a string of bright orange beads.  The string broke and the beads rolled everywhere.  A gallant gentleman brought me a plastic cup in which to gather them.  I became rather silly as I claimed, preposterously, that the cup of beads was a metaphor; for what, I did not know.  I wrote some silly things and then came out with this:

Life is like a bowl of beads:
full of tiny parts
some insignificant
all waiting to be made magnificent.

Progress is piece by piece
on the path to be made whole.

occur along the way - 
a join will break
a string will fray
some of what's already strung
will fall and roll away.

Choose between gathering
                           kicking away.

Whatever the choice
there are limitless possibilities
with naked string
and a bowl of beads.

And then it was a metaphor!

How do you practise your creativity?

1 comment:

  1. Love it! Well done on both your pieces. I still write everyday too, even if I don't always publish it. Its soul food.