On creativity

Lately I've been thinking a lot about creativity. I spent the last 2 years or so in a creative desert, with no will to write or draw or build anything, and then suddenly, a few weeks ago:  bam! Inspiration hit. I wanted to blog again, I wanted to write a story, I'm even posting quasi-professional things on LinkedIn.

(That means I leave out the swear words.)

There's always lots of blah blah blah about how creativity is "1% inspiration and 99% perspiration", implying that if you just do the work you'll eventually be a Artist with a capital A. But without that 1%, that muse, you're barely a lower case 'a' if you're lucky. At least in my experience.

And yet I have no idea what planets need to align for the muse to start talking. I have no idea what happened a few weeks ago - nothing had changed, not even my brand of deodorant. So where does it come from? Where does it go?

(Where does it come from, Cotton Eyed Joe?)


It's easy to think of creativity like a finite vessel, with only a certain amount of emotional energy that can be expended. If you waste it on your job or your kid, you have nothing left over. But that doesn't always track; creative energy begets creative energy, after all. Surrounding yourself with artist types might make your vessel bigger, your flashes of inspiration happen more often.

I'm somewhat reluctant to overanalyze, in case I scare it off. I don't want it to go skittering away for another two years. But when I'm not paying attention I find myself wondering about the particular blend of physical, emotional, and social situations that must have to happen for me to feel "inspired". My brain tries to dissect that, to slice it up and put it back together in a jar on the shelf, so next time I can just add a generous helping to my lunch.

Yeah, I'm totally going to scare it off.