Tuesday, May 23, 2006

One way around writer's block

I typically don't get "writer's block." There are times when I don't write any poetry, or essays, or haibun, or creative nonfiction—my usual writerly modes. And there are other times when all I write seems like crap. But I am never not being creative. On a daily basis, I usually produce something, because for me creativity swtiches channels readily. If I am not doing poetry, I'm doing music, or visual art, or photography, or on-site land art sculpture, or weaving. Even when I'm feeling depressed, and the bleak winter weather has me down, I can still usually manage a haiku or a decent photo, or weave a dreamcatcher while watching some movie on DVD.

My experience, and practice, has long been based on a simple principle: creativity, by its very nature, is a matter of abundance rather than lack. There is no time when one is not exercising creativity. (Some of the mystical traditions would add, we are partaking in the Divine whenever we are being creative, because we are co-creating our lives, in partnership/unity with the Creator, the Godhead, the Divine Demiurge, whatever we want to call it.) Like mindfulness, creativity is something you can practice. Having access to one's creative Self is a birthright; it's always present, always available. Practice with it makes it more readily accessible to you, as a mode and tool.

Lest this sound too new-agey—which it's not, it's a very old idea in fact—here's an analogy that I find personally useful: the creative force of the universe is like an underground river of cold, black water, that one can dip into, or sink a well through rock into, to tap, and taste the clear, cold waters of life, creativity, and power. The river's always there, always flowing, underground; sometimes, in our peregrinations, we might wander into an area where the bedrock is thicker and harder, and the water's harder to get at—but the river's always there, and always will be.

So, beyond the simple fact that creativity is a mindset, a worldview, a way of meeting the world as an equal and partner in co-creation, there are also strategies for enhancing one's creativity, and tactics and strategies for getting unstuck.

One of my favorites is the Oblique Strategies, by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt. Originally published as a deck of cards, but now available online and in a freeware version you can run on your computer, to kick yourself in the astral, as necessary, thanks to my friend Gregory Taylor's site.

Here's the original preface by Eno and Schmidt: These cards evolved from our separate observations on the principles underlying what we were doing. Sometimes they were recognized in retrospect (intellect catching up with intuition), sometimes they were identified as they were happening, sometimes they were formulated.

They can be used as a pack (a set of possibilities being continuously reviewed in the mind) or by drawing a single card from the shuffled pack when a dilemma occurs in a working situation. In this case,the card is trusted even if its appropriateness is quite unclear. They are not final, as new ideas will present themselves, and others will become self-evident.

Some sample Oblique Strategies:

Honor thy error as a hidden intention

Do something boring

Abandon normal instruments

Remember those quiet evenings

What are the sections sectons of? Imagine a caterpillar moving

From nothing to more than nothing

There are over a hundred cards now. The idea is to draw one, and let it guide you, almost like an oracle. There's nothing mystical about this: it's a way to tap into intuition, hidden intentions, and let the unconscious mind (those deep black waters) feed you.

Labels: , , ,


Blogger Pat said...

I liked this entry alot today, Dragon. I was actually thinking about something similar, today...lamenting not getting to paint with tons of gardening to do...but gardening, too, is a creative endeavor with gret rewards...not to mention just being pleasantly exhausted! : ) My first mentor as a painter always said, "you don't have to be at the easel to paint". How true that is...if not actually creating, we are always taking in, storing up...

good to see you have a blog!


12:50 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

I like your mentor's advice. Seems very wise to me. I admit I feel the same way: there's no time I'm not being creative, even if all I'm doing is being in an experience and storing it for later.


11:50 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home