Discovering the Creative

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This past week, I spent time in New York City attending The Creativity Workshop. After getting the supplies list that included sketchbooks, I was a little nervous. Writing and cutting and pasting? I can handle that. But physically drawing objects, people, places?! I was insanely intimidated.

These drawing assignments challenged us to go out into the world, find someone and draw. Then after you were done drawing, you had to write a story. Either what they were going through at that specific moment in time, or their inner life. I found the writing part helped me shape my drawings. As I sat there thinking I had completed the drawing, all of a sudden I’d see something new from my story and need to add to the sketch.

That’s the number one lesson I’m taking from this course, that creativity is never finished. Even as the deadline hits and the pitch/concept goes out the door. Everything’s still a work in progress. Too often I think I look at that looming deadline as the be-all-end-all. And that the project, along with the ideas, just stop.

I’ve also learned to silence that inner critic of mine. That voice telling me as I’m typing, writing, creating to self-edit. It was hard at first to ignore it, but through loads of automatic writing, I’ve managed to quiet it down. After all, that’s what the editing’s process is for; why do double the work?

One of my favorite exercises was taking a blank piece of paper and just drawing lines and squiggles for about 10 minutes. All while you closed your eyes and held your pencil in a new way. It was extremely freeing and really challenged your imagination as you “remembered” where you’d already made lines. Then you opened your eyes and started to make sense of the squiggles by finding objects/shapes in the chaos. It was challenging at first as you forced yourself to make sense of it all, and then I found the more you just glance and scan, the easier it was to “see” something.

Our class was about 25 students from 12 different countries. It was insanely inspiring to hear the stories, the drawings and the thoughts of people I never would have had the opportunity to meet and collaborate alongside. And there was even another Hannah in the mix (from Saudi Arabia).

While I’m never really one for negative-based language, this was our mantra (from Samuel Beckett) throughout the class and it really did help me move past that inner critic that’s so used to being heard.

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