Thursday, July 3, 2008

Stifling Creativity

I am currently reading a marvellous book by Danny Gregory, The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to Be The Artist You Truly Are. I have hinted before at my interest in the creative process, one that is by no means exclusively related to my writing pursuits but to all arts and all creative processes associated with them. The Creative License may revolve around drawing and keeping a pictorial journal but I dare any creative person not to relate to this book on many levels, particularly in its first few pages, where the author discusses what happens when you stifle creativity.

"The ability and the need to be creative are hard-wired into all of us. I speak to so many people who tell me they make things (drawings, souffles, jewelry, movies, pop songs) because they just have to. They can't help it. It's a basic urge, an irrepressible impulse.

Yet an awful lot of people are able to suppress it. They trudge back and forth in a rut, never reinventing a single day. They jump to conclusions about themselves and their abilities and their obligations that they think will help them avoid conflict. They make certain choices that they think will prevent others from being disappointed, shocked or angry.

But deep inside them, a little ember flickers. That ember is their dream, the thing they would really like to do, if only. If only they had the time, the talent, the education, the tools, the money, the support, the freedom. But because they have decided long ago that they can't, they lock that little spark in a big steel box, hoping to suffocate it once and for all, and then they rush on with their chores and obligations. But the ember won't go out. Instead it heats up the steel box, and they start to feel that need again. It gets hotter and the feeling turns to pain. So they reach for an anaesthetic.

Our society is full of anesthetics - drugs, booze, television, mass culture, destructive behaviors, anger, defensiveness, selfishness - all are ways to take us away from experiencing the here and now, from being in touch with our true nature.

When we continue to deny who we truly are and suppress our ability to create, we become crippled and shut down. [...]

Ironically, our society tends to portray artists as dreamers. But those who suppress their creativity are actually the ones living in a dream. An artist is someone who feels and sees reality very intensely. Creativity doesn't mean just making things up out of thin air. It means seeing and feeling the world so vividly that you can put together connections and patterns that help to explain reality. It means you see the beauty in the world rather than trying to hide from it."
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