By Jarrett Pitts
It Begins in the Mind
Meandering through a museum, has the realization ever dawned on you; At previous points in time, all the paintings, moulds, and sculptures –all the varied and beautiful expressions of creativity—first began as ideas without physical analogues?
The great Michelangelo famously stated, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.
I can dig that. But, if you were to give me a sculptor’s hammer and chisel, I would most likely make a mess of fractured rock and dust, not a David-esque masterwork.
So, how then, exactly, does one transform a blank canvas or hunk of marble into an inspired masterpiece?
After all, even when we possess the skill needed to complete a task, and come at it with the best intentions, we frequently buckle, falter, or blame an indefinable barrier to our creative faculties when our ‘vision’ suffers a lack of progress.
The mosaicist understands an essential truth about the completion of work: it is done piece by piece.
Art needn’t be created via pen or paintbrush. If anything, “art” is simply a manifestation of channeled creativity; multiple opportunities arise each and every day for us to ‘call upon the muse’.
“Art is a loose puzzle, and the most pertinent piece is you.”
Receptionists create spreadsheets and schedules, teachers formulate curriculum, athletes experiment with new patterns of movements… everyone uses creativity in their own capacity within their chosen domain to form their ‘art’. We rely on inventive ways of being and doing to both propel our sense of progress forward, and inspire others within our particular, professional fields.
So, when novel or ingenious solutions are not quickly forthcoming, we may find ourselves disheartened and contracted. It is at this point when we may start to procrastinate, question the merit of the project at hand, doubt our talent to see the undertaking through to completion, or otherwise engage in a similar form of self-sabotage. To this, we lazily apply the dubious misnomer, “creative block”.
Creative Block: Fact or Fiction?
Before we may begin to address overcoming perceived creative blocks, we must first have a working definition of creativity:
Creativity, in its myriad forms and incantations, is a product of ease and synthesis.
Yep, that’s it. It is just a fresh, uninhibited, free approach that disregards the constraints of auto-editing or self-censorship.
With that said, creativity is also a discipline and, truly, more of a cultivated habit, than some impenetrable mystery. It is a muscle you exercise through consistent practice.
Every second is a chance to challenge and flex your creative capacity. But, establishing, maintaining, and expanding that capacity takes a lot of hard work and attention. And, why shouldn’t it? Michael Jordan didn’t wake up one morning to miraculously discover six championship rings on his fingers. Similarly, one shouldn’t wake up with an unrealistic expectation of writing a 900+ page Steven King mega-novel—not without having first cultivated a personal, everyday practice of living and working creatively.
Sorry, but you know it’s true.
Inspiration comes and goes. Creative perseverance is what gets the job done.
Be Relentlessly Tenacious
Art is a by-product of creativity. And, no matter what your “art” is, if you are to make yourself a receptive vessel to the muse, you gotta do the work. Michelangelo permanently damaged his eyesight as he labored four years to complete the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. That’s dedication. And, while no one would advise you put your health at risk, you must have the fortitude and resolve to endure the journey.
Sharpen your tools. Hone your craft. Be relentlessly tenacious. Remember the wisdom of the mosaic artist: ‘it is done piece by piece’.
There will always be missteps, delays, interruptions, and frustrations. Don’t view these so-called ‘setbacks’ as something apart from the creative process. They are not. They are part of the package, too. So, explore them. Understand them. Use it all as fuel.
A blank canvas stares at you. What are you willing to go through to create your masterpiece? How will you put your pieces together?