Thursday, May 8, 2014

What to do when it just gets messy

I've noticed a trend: I don't have to write every day, but about seven days out, my inner creator starts to expand to the point of explosion. If I don't get something out, it's all going to come out in some messy, convoluted form. Some might argue that this weekly blog remains rather convoluted, but for whatever my ramblings are worth, they assist my spirit.  Perhaps, in some not-so-obvious way, they do that for you too.

Now, as many of you know, I teach composition and creative writing courses, and I have my own editing service. Talk about "no pressure"--yeah, right.  I still get nervous when I hit the publish button, because, you see, despite my "credentials" I still proofread and miss errors I'd mark a student on; I still struggle to find the right word, and I am embarrassingly reliant on spell-check. It's ridiculous really. You call yourself a professor? An editor? A writer?  Bottom line: I make mistakes.  

But I want to push past that fear of failure to the crescendo of creativity.  To get messy with ideas and let my thoughts be inspired. So maybe it's not so much about being "wrong"--sorry, Pearce--as it is about fearing distinction (those who choose to do the different are often called out on it, for better or worse), and fear of not hitting a bulls-eye every time. Experimenting and imaging isn't always clean and successful.  But I think it's worth it all the same. 

A fellow-professor friend shared this article and I adore the concept: we need time to be "idle" and still, so we can hear what it is we are really supposed to be doing.

Doing Nothing Is Something talks about the bygone days of boredom and finding ourselves and creative play, but people, even children, aren't allowed to explore this creative expanse called time.  We are so crammed with what's next on the agenda that we aren't allowed this creative freedom.  It's scary after all.  What if our children decide to do something rebellious or deviant in their idle time?  I think the alternative to this controlling time-squeeze might be worse. I fear we are just raising robots. 
There is also ample psychological research suggesting that what we might call "doing nothing" is when human beings actually do their best thinking, and when creativity comes to call. Perhaps we are creating an entire generation of people whose ability to think outside the box, as the current parlance of business has it, is being systematically stunted by scheduling. (Quindlen 6) 
Part of the reason I chose homeschooling involved this concept of margin and time and exploration. Academics, relationship, efficiency, and all the other reasons aside, I want my kids to have time to think outside the box, to explore what God has put in their hearts.

When I was in high school, my efficient task-driven nature demanded I complete my essential work before lunch time.  Afternoons were spent scribbling stories in a journal and stinking up the basement with oil paint fumes.

I think these moments of creativity (whatever form they make take in you--building, gardening, cooking, crafting, molding, dancing) allow us to discover something new--not just about ourselves--but about our God and our purpose.

“Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.” 
― Madeleine L'Engle 
Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.
— Henry David Thoreau 
I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
--Albert Einstein
So, I'd leave you with this challenge: if you feel like you are suppressing your inner-creative energy, quit. To borrow the over-used Disney lyric, "let it go, let it go."  Take time (and don't tell me you have any) to be quiet, to let your spirit slow down enough to stumble down a different, more inspired path for a few minutes...or hours. Pull out the paint, experiment with a new recipe, saw and nail some wood together, sprinkle flower seeds over a garden, put on a song and dance to it.  Don't feel that you are a creative person?  I don't buy it. We all are. If we are made in His image, we have a creative gene.  No, you may not be artistic or emotional; you may experiment through science or equations or construction.  Whatever your venue, let God expand your spirit in those moments.  Seek to glorify Him through whatever you do, but remember that every move we make, every thought we have, every creative "genius" comes from Him. Thank Him for the time and explore the possibilities.

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