One of my personal symbols for creativity is the "mature" dandelion. Maybe that's because a single flower can bear such untold "influence". Or maybe they just match my hair. I haven't decided.
And one of my great passions is The Creative Process. I have the same reverence for the creative process, that I have for the finished product. I love the methods as much as I love the masterpiece, whether that masterpiece be a book about string theory, or a mixed-media painting, or a Taylor Swift song. The nuts and bolts of creativity are sacred rudiments to me. Even the mechanics are holy.
Why? Well, the process shapes me. The Creator of the universe is behind it all - whether the artist understands it and acknowledges it or not, every person who creates anything does it because he or she is made imago dei: in the image of God. God is the original artist; He is the source of all good art, from concept to completion. Consequently, He is behind all the messy mechanics that characterize the middle of the creative process.
So, at great risk of pulling the wings off the proverbial butterfly, I hope to take apart the process - breaking it into about three components, and putting it back together while still retaining the mystery.
Or not. I might be about to say something stupid. I'll still drop the mic when I'm done, because I still said it and you still read it.
The first law:
You have to put yourself in front of the best. The best books, the best minds, the best music, the best art - and make it your life's avocation to cultivate an informed opinion, through comparison and contrast. Most importantly: get outside. Let creation itself inspire and refresh you. Let new (and even bizarre) relationships present themselves. Let all of it - the ideas, the images, the recipes, the paintings, the trees, the mountains, the theology, the books - let it swirl around and cross-pollinate all up in your head.
Yo. Blow the dandelion. Stir the soup. (see the relationship?)
Do it every day.
If you don't, you won't have what it takes to be an artist.
The second law:
Know when to stop it. Know when to put down the book on string theory. Know that you aren't putting it down to watch TV or check Facebook, you are putting it down to hug a granddaughter, or to make up your own recipe. Maybe a new twist on roasted chicken. (It can be done.)
Know when to fall off one horse, so you can jump onto another.
That is how creative people "rest". They give their brain a change of scenery - the bigger the contrast, the better the effect.
The third law:
Never. Ever. Never try to be creative.
If you have to try to be an artist, you aren't.
Hey...Shalom, y'all. It's okay! Embrace it. The world needs engineers and administrators and literal people - so stop hating on yourself. It isn't healthy for you or anyone you love. The whole world is missing out on the best parts of you! They are missing out on your gifts, because you are trying to be like someone else you look up to.
See law number 2. Stop it. Do you! Be an introvert. Or be left brained. (If you are left-brained, I especially need you.) Even artists can't try to be artists...they just are. "Art" really is a form of the verb "to be", and it's okay.
It really is okay. It is okay for me to paint and write and be weird, and for you to organize and account and crunch the numbers and administrate and be literal and normal. Every bit of it is a reflection of God.
How is this third law a law of creativity, then? "Never try to be creative".
Because making no strained effort to "be creative" is as vital to the process of real art, as not doing math equations all day every day is to the process of real math.
You have to let fallow ground, lie fallow. It's the only way to a sustainable harvest, year-in and year-out. Trust that the creative impulse will come to you, in due time.
I'm sorely tempted to add a fourth law - and call it something like, "The Law of Actually Doing It". I'm tempted to add that law, because as an artist, I live in my head all the time. Precious few ideas actually make it to the light of day and the marketplace. Confession is good for the soul - that's the cold, hard truth about me. I have far more ideas than I have the discipline to grind them out and make them real.
I gotta work on that.
And since I can only teach what I already do, authentically...I will stop at three laws.
Pressing "publish" on this post counts as "doing it". What used to be in my head is now out in the world. There's only one problem: dinner.
Too bad preachers can't eat blog posts.