The Creative Person Versus The World

 

super-kid

 

“Man! The traffic was crazy today. Then, wouldn’t you know it, a cyclist whips by, cuts in front of a line of cars, and almost gets nailed!”

“Wow. Really?” I shook my head, while he continued on about how crazy some cyclists are.

I was listening to my husband recapping his trip home from the office

Honest.

However, I was also drawn to stare at a few whiskers on his cheek that he’d missed that morning, and was half listening to the news on tv about a Canadian Paralympic 1500 meter runner, (and wondering why we hadn’t heard more on the Paralympics) A quail sat on top of a bush outside, and I admired its plump little body perched so comfortably.

My hubbie stopped and stared at me. “Are you listening?”

“Of course. Just wanted to interject that dinner’s ready.”

“Right. Anyway, blah blah blah blah…”

To be honest, I only caught about a half of what he said. Does this sound familiar?

I’ve researched characteristics of creative people and found in many articles that ‘creatives’ are most often aware of a lot of irrelevant environmental stimuli occurring at any given time. And most often creative people need absolute silence to concentrate. Hence, writer’s retreats, and the popular suggestion for creative people to work at quiet times of the day, like early morning. (Shudder. Just how early are we talking?)

Interestingly enough, many characteristics of a creative person are similar to those of a person with ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder. They both are dreamers, unable at times to focus on just one thing, able to think out of the box, and often possess a very practical intelligence. And many articles have been written about the correlation between creativity and ADD. Of course, there are degrees of each, and the only reason I thought these articles were interesting was to be able to understand myself a bit better, and to learn how to deal with being distracted. It’s not really important to me whether I have ADD or am simply creative, but the vast number of articles written on both make me realize, I’m not alone.

So how do creative people concentrate?

I love the story about Victor Hugo, the author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, locking away all his clothes to avoid the temptation of going out and socializing while completing his manuscript.

Apparently Einstein took long walks on beaches or merely gazed at a ceiling and waited for his imagination to take over.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart loved to take long carriage rides by himself, often in the middle of the night.

 

solitude

The people above, all insisted that solitude was paramount to being creative, but each of us has to know how to deal with his or her creativity and life’s distractions. It truly shocked me when I watched my son with headphones on listening to music and studying at the same time. Obviously that would not have worked for me, but somehow it did for him.

Our ability to use our brains to get outside our limited experiences and worlds, enables us to imagine far more than less creative people. The problem is to harness our minds and discipline ourselves in order to best utilize our God-given gifts.

In the book The Creative Brain: The Science of Genius, neuroscientist Nancy Andreasen confirms that creative people struggle with distractions more than others.

So, how do you create that zone where you are the most creative?

 

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TRADING DEPENDENTS

About 15 years ago, my sister-in-law glanced incredulously at me while flipping the pages of my sketchbooks. “Loraine, why on earth aren’t you doing your artwork? Or your writing for that matter?

I laughed. “Oh, sure, I think I have all of a ½ hour per day when I’m not either driving the kids around to their school sports, cooking meals for said children, or taking care of our acreage and horses. Oh, yes… I guess I also have a husband in there too who requires a little attention. If I allowed myself creative outlets, I would be like that cranky dog with a bone. I would not be a nice mommy or a supportive wife if I was dragged away from my writing or artwork. Besides, creativity can’t just be turned on and off like a tap when the few moments arise.”

The excuses rolled out of my mouth faster than our kids and their friends exiting their school at 2:30. And to be honest the excuses were mostly valid. At that point in my life the kids were my priority and I wasn’t going to miss a thing. Their desires and needs for my services and time would soon pass as their priorities and lifestyles changed.

Andrew in track

(My son Andrew in his track years)

It might have been different had I not had my other hobbies taking up my time too (my horses and showing). So my creative side waited, not all that patiently, along the sidelines.

Later, after my kids graduated and the hours spent as a taxi driver and fan of their sports diminished to zero, I allowed myself to tread tentatively toward my neglected artistic and creative side. Also due to nagging injuries, I had to let go of my horses and acreage. My creative juices were flowing full steam ahead in the form of writing courses, conferences and contests. I was also commissioned to illustrate my first book. Hallelujah! I’d turned the page of my life.

However…

Dependents come in many forms. First it was the children but now my last remaining parent, my mom, whom I adore, needs my help. Of course, as before with my children, when her needs arise, I leave everything and leap to her side. Thus my creative outlets are yet again sometimes leashed and tethered.

Mom and girls

(Me, my mom and my sister)

But I have now found, perhaps as a more assertive ‘over fifty’ woman, that delegating has had to become the norm, rather than taking on everything as I did before. We luckily do have a large and supportive family in town and there is now a schedule of duties. Even though I’m the only daughter in town, the other brothers have been roped in for duty as well as their fantastic wives.

Also, my age-old excuse of being unable to ‘turn on my creativity like a tap’ doesn’t cut it anymore. If I have only a few minutes to spare, those minutes are put to use. Every person has an ideal time to write and work, and mine is in the mornings. However, if have been up with the owls on occasion to get some deadlines met. Even though my kids do ‘all nighters’ for school frequently, I detest them. But do them I must, to get done. Oddly enough, my body seems to go through a bit of a sleepy snit-fit about midnight, but then gives in for the second wind now.

So, tell me. How do you all get your projects done when dependents tug at your collars?