Creativity is a fickle and fiery mistress. Artists and creatives are not able to set their alarm in the morning, head off to work, turn out amazing products for eight hours, then go home to talk about the day at the office. There really is no stopping or starting the desire to do something, or forcing it to happen when a person is empty. It is quite possibly one of the most challenging pieces of the creative professional world, and the most frustrating for corporations that want a stream of amazing products and ideas for eight to ten full hours a day, every day.
The truth is, there is no formula to the muse. Good creative results can only come from inspired people, who are working when they want to produce. When it’s on, there may be no turning it off, and when it’s off, it may take some time to turn it back on. Creatives have to learn to work when they are inspired, and recharge when the batteries are low.
Some days in the studio I can tell when it is time to recharge and I am ignoring it. I stare at the projects that need to be done, and avoid them. I squirm and groan when I have nothing left to do BUT the project at hand. When all Facebook messages are responded to, all emails checked, all online promotions done….. it’s me and this piece of art.
Many people think that artists are this unending well of inspirational ideas that flood all the time in a steady stream. It’s not true, we are more like electrical capacitors. We take in small pieces of inspiration and creativity from various places and store it up, amplify it, then it bursts out in pulses when the storage is full. When the pulse comes, it may not matter what time of day it is, where one is, or what one is doing. This is when the creative mind is driven and may run for a few hours, or a few days as if on fire.
Once expended it is important for the creative, and those around them to understand that there is nothing in there at the moment. You might as well ask a hippo to climb a tree than expect great work. This is a time for recharging.
Recharging doesn’t mean doing nothing, it means taking in the creativity from other places to find yourself inspired to do your best work again. This may take some discipline to do in order to not simply waste a day. For myself, it means attaching the laptop to my TV with an HDMI cable and watching instructional art tutorials. Taking a couple hours to just draw Tamarins at the zoo and nothing else, or connecting with another creative person who IS inspired to be doing what they do, watching dance, viewing art, watching recorded Dungeons & Dragons games. For some it may come from exercise, walking, or simply sitting at the cafe watching people. Observing or taking in energy of another being who is inspired will charge the capacitor again. Not pressuring yourself to turn out something when the capacitor is low, will keep you from producing poor quality work and regretting it later. Sometimes naps sprinkle in there during the recharge, but it is important to not let ‘Re-charge’ become synonymous with ‘Lazy’.
I frequently find myself fully charged and ready to work at 3AM. I am lucky enough to be able to get up to take advantage of that burst. Not everyone can be so lucky, but it is important to pay attention to your capacitor levels and be ready when the burst is coming. It is also important when taking on new work, to allow for possible re-charges during the project.