Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Flow Of Creativity

With less than two weeks left in 2011 I’m starting to review and sort the events of this calendar year and putting them away into one convenient mental time capsule.  

A lot of its content will be mostly memories of events, lists of experiences and relationships with people. But one significant thing I’m taking with me from 2011 is an educational experience. I’m not talking about a formal class taken at a learning institution. I’m refering to a life lesson I’ve been privileged to learn by the grace of God.

The course could be titled “Creativity 101.” The text book used in this lesson is called “Brain Storm: Unleashing Your Creative Self.  It’s written by Don Hahn, producer of such classic Disney films as “Beauty and The Beast” and “The Lion King.”

In the book, Hahn explores the emotions and mindsets connected with the creative process. He also shares ways of tapping into your own creative abilities. Then he explains how to set yourself up to live a life that fosters creativity.

He argues the fact that since man is made in God’s image, creativity is in our DNA. Just look around everything you see and even things you can’t are creations of the almighty. As the Son of God the gospel of John chapter 1 verse 4 speaks of Jesus’ creativity in this way: All things were made through Him and without Him was not anything made that has been made.” So being creative is an act of stewardship; using the talents that God has given you reflects His nature in you. I think that’s a lesson right there.

Another thing that Hahn writes about is something that I’ve discovered for myself in my life. Creativity is a flowing force. Just like river it takes the path of least resistance, branches out in many directions, and will not be denied. That’s the part I’ve discovered for myself.

While I had never realized it before it was brought to my attention in “Brain Storm” creativity is almost never exclusive to one part of a person’s life. If someone is creative they are creative in many ways. It’s like a well spring from inside the soul. Don’t mean to be over dramatic. I just think that’s the best way to explain it.

My personal “river” of creativity has many tributaries. I can think of at least ½ dozen ways my creativity branched out this year alone. And that’s just speaking in general. I could easily list how each of those areas branched out to other areas as well.

Last October I learned the 2nd part of my life lesson. It had to do with limiting your creativity by worrying about the results.

After listening to the audio book version of Jeff Dunham’s biography at the end of the summer, I was both motivated and intimidated at the same time. I won’t take the time to go into the details about how that book affected me but let me just say that I really put on the pressure to get my ventriloquism career going again.  I put all my creative efforts into coming up with new sketches for my more popular puppets. The problem was I psyched myself out.

My creative process had become like getting ketchup out of a bottle. It took an unusual amount of effort to get even just a little result.  This may sound strange but that’s what I was going through.

Although part of me wanted to work on other things my ego kept me chained to the idea that I needed to make ventriloquism my only focus.  I experienced what could be categorized as a type of “writer’s block”.” Then in the middle of October several things happened that changed my focus.

First of all, Paula and I took a weekend vacation to the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. We were only there for about a day and a half but we did a lot in that little time. When we came back I felt compelled to write a trip report. It took me about 2 weeks to finish it. The writing exercise took away my writer’s block. The dam I had built holding back my creativity was washed away. A flood of ideas and new projects got the “river” flowing again.   

About the time I finished my Smokey Mountains trip report I found out about the What Not Muppets available at Toys R Us (see my November 8 post). I began my 3rd blog, “Getting To My Goal”, and started writing my 7th Rewind Christmas program. In November I posted on this blog just as much as I did in September and October combined.

The lesson I learned is that, at least for me, creativity is very eclectic. I need to stay open to my inspirations and not hesitate to “go with the flow” when I come up with a good idea no matter what area of interest in might be in.

Creativity feeds on itself. If you are being creative in one area you may come up with an inspiration for another where you’ve been having some difficulty. To me that’s a life changing lesson.

Although I’ve learned a lot this year I’m not too sure I’ve graduated from the “Creativity 101” course that God is allowing to be part of my life. Now that I know there is a lot to more to the creative process than I ever thought there’s one thing about which I’m pretty certain. The river must be replenished at its source, the creative spirit is continually given to all of us by our Creator, and we must follow its course otherwise it will just become a dry bed of wasted ideas.

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