When the Creative Process won’t process

Here I am at the computer to write about creativity, but I’m not feeling particularly creative. But really that is the point of this post. Creativity doesn’t always just come, sometimes we have to activate it. It’s great when you get a creative burst and use that to work on a craft, or write, or paint, or do whatever the creative muse calls you to do. However, when your life is in the arts there are many, many times that you have to force creativity, or find the creative inspiration fast.

I believe this topic is relevant because in my mind people who identify with being Pagan tend to be very creative. We use that creativity in a number of ways and many of us would consider ourselves to be artists. There is definitely an art to crafting a spell or developing a ritual. My guess is that if you are the leader of an active spiritual group or coven you have to spend a lot of time working out rituals and gatherings, and sometimes that can be hard to do. Particularly if you’re under a deadline, such as a holiday is in a few days and you have no choice but to decide what to do for the ritual. You can’t wait and hope that creativity will come along and smack you in the face.

Here is where the creative process comes in. There are ways to nudge the muse and hopefully get the creative ball rolling. Now I’m not great at spell crafting, but I’d like to be better. That is an area I’m working on. I am however, a dance professional. I’m the artistic director of a professional company and I co-direct a college dance program. The college also has a dance company, and I direct that as well. I was also given an awesome honor and named one of Houston’s 100 Creatives of 2013…that should prove it, right ? J So I find it appropriate to speak from the perspective of having to create dance whether I want to or not.

When students take choreography class with me they often come in with the mindset that they will be hit in the head with creative inspiration and that alone will guide them in creating a dance. They are usually a bit frustrated when they discover this is not the case. Working artists have to create to meet deadlines. They have to create to fulfill assignments. I’m not waiting around all semester until they feel inspired.

Side note….as I write this the student company is working with a guest artist and there have been a steady stream of students in my office all morning with problems! One doesn’t like the dance, another started pulling a thread on her pants and it just kept pulling and pulling until she had a hole. She came to see if I could fix the hole. And on it goes. Just as I get into my creative writing process I hear another soft rapping at my office door and then a student’s face coyly appears in the doorway. So here I go again trying to activate my creative writing skills….how long can I go until another one appears? We’ll see…

Where were we? I think I was going to discuss what I do to get the creative juices flowing. When I am under the gun in regards to choreography I have a number of movement games I play with myself to develop new material. You tend to get stuck in the same patterns of movement and I have to have ways to get out of those in order to develop new material to teach the dancers. As I have been creating dances for about 20 years I have a decent idea about how my creative process works. I know I am better with many short bursts of development rather than a few long sessions. I also know what times of the day are better for me, and what spaces are the best to create in. I actually have a room in my house that is the choreography parlor. All the music instruments are in there, but there is very little furniture because I need as much floor space as possible. The room is set up just the way I like it and just going in there and lighting a candle and a little incense usually helps get my creative juices flowing.

Sometimes I get lucky and creativity does come along and smack me in the face. When that happens I will do whatever I can to drop everything and set a movement phrase. And of course the creativity muse visits at strange times when it is difficult to dance. She likes to visit when I am in a meeting, or driving, or grocery shopping. I think the very act of having your mind on something else allows the creativity to flow. That energy gets blocked when you try to force it, and that’s why we have to nudge it out when we are ready to create.

ACK! Another interruption! Contractors need into a room to replace ceiling tiles. And the guest artist needs a pen and paper. 90% of my Friday mornings with the guest artist are quiet, beautiful times for writing. What is going on today? Part of my known creative process, I write better in the morning, but I am only up early if I have to be somewhere. I love when guest artists are in on Friday mornings because I can do some good writing, but not today.

Ok, Ok….back at it. One more thought then it’s probably time to just go ahead and throw in the towel.

It’s great when I can let a creative thought incubate for a while. This really happens when I develop a full-length show. I’ll get some wild idea and then it just stews for weeks, sometimes months. Then I’ll start to see in my mind how the idea can materialize through movement and costumes. I’ll journal and keep notebooks, make inspirational Pinterest boards and gather research. I’ll start putting movement on the dancers, and somewhere in there the project takes on a life of it’s own. Two to three months ahead of opening night the project becomes all consuming and takes over my life. I basically eat, sleep, and breathe it until the show is over. Once it is over I have to take a big break to recover my creative energies. And at these times I’ll indulge in very uncreative activities like watching a lot of TV and doing jigsaw puzzles.

Creativity and the creative process is both a very easy and very difficult topic for me to write about. I almost wrote about it for the 2012 project, but at the last minute I shied away from it. This post seems rambly to me, but I’m still going to put it out in the world. I think taking this step of writing about creativity will help me to further define my process and make discoveries about it.

For the reader, I think all Pagans have a strong creative spirit and that is going to manifest in many ways. Please think about your own creativity and how it works. What makes you feel creative? What gives you inspiration? How can you get creative when you’re just not feeling it?

Knocking…..skinned knee, AKA, marley burn. Band-aid and Neosporin needed.

Yes, I do recognize the irony of writing about the creative process while my process today is very halted. I think it’s time I just go out there and watch their dance. I’m ready to see what the creativity of the guest artist and students have produced. I always love to just sit back and watch the creative fruits of others and not have to worry about my own.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Daniel Devereux
    Feb 08, 2014 @ 04:44:06

    I’ve begun to feel that I can either direct all of my creative energy at either the blogging project or my story, hence why I posted an excerpt of my story last week and probably why I wont write a post for this week.


  2. Yvonne Ryves
    Feb 08, 2014 @ 06:37:32

    I find I have phases of creativity, one of which I am fortunately in at the moment and then other phases of what seems like dormant time but is really where seeds are being sown and ideas processed for the creative times. My belief is we need both if these times in our lives.


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