Momentum is a Friend
I give you a few words from George Bernard Shaw about life, and here's what he writes. "Life is no brief candle to me. "It's sort of a splendid torch "which I got a hold of for a moment, "and I want to make it burn "as brightly as possible, before handing it off." Well if we wanna be ignited and alive, and have those creative juices really flow, how do we do that? Well here I wanna turn to a few folks in order to gain some wisdom about this. First it's Chuck Close, a photographer and painter and second, Jack London. Here's what Chuck Close writes. "The advice I give to young artists or really anybody "who will listen to me, "is not to wait around for inspiration. "Inspiration is for amateurs. "The rest of us, we show up, and we get the work. "If you wait around for the clouds to part, "and a bolt of lightening to strike you in the brain, "you're not gonna make an awful lot of work. "All the best ideas come out of process. "They come out of the work itself." And isn't it true? Creativit...
y, you know, momentum, it's our friend. You can't steer the parked car, right. You gotta get the car rolling and moving and then you can nudge it. Then you can change direction along the way. Well, how do we do this? How do we actually become more ignited? How do we get some of this inspiration? Where here's where Jack London's wisdom comes to play. He says, "You can't wait for inspiration. "You have to go after it with a club." Now if you know anything about London's life, he was a fighter through and through, from the time the guy was a kid to the very day he died. And London knew about clubs. He knew about them from the time he spent up in Alaska in the Yukon wilderness. He saw how a club was used. And for him this idea, it wasn't a cute phrase to say, okay, to be inspired you have to do something. He meant it, he meant it. You gotta fight. You gotta have grit. You gotta go for this thing. It's not gonna come to you. You have to go to it. And then later in the life, he even sort of modified that idea further. He took it further by saying, there's no such thing as inspiration. He kind of gave up on it. And he said, "I thought so once and made an ass of myself." And that's why London had this disciplined approach to what he did. Everyday he would write a certain amount of words, come hell or high water. And London knew the secret that inspiration doesn't flow to us. We gotta make it ourselves, we gotta get into the process. It comes from doing things. So then how does this relate say to you and I? How can we generate some of our own kinetic energy? How can we create momentum so that the creative juices do ignite and they start to flow? How do we do that thing? Well here I have a couple of ideas. One of them has to do with mindset. When I was a kid growing up, my Mom who is artist would always have us do all these crazy artistic things. She would bring home, I don't know, some ceramic stuff, or some clay, and we'd make things with clay or we would paint, or we would draw. One of the things that my Mom told us when we would do that stuff, is that there was no such thing as bad art. Now as an adult, I know that, that's a lie (laughs). There is art which is horrible, right. But as a kid, it was true. It was this truth, I needed to adopt because what it meant is, I could create, and if it didn't turn out well, if it was bad, that was okay, 'cause the intent wasn't the final product. It was the process, itself. And this mindset, I think helps us to get over ourselves. You know, when it comes to creating something, whatever your area is, we tend to think about step 10. We gotta start at step one. If we think about step 10, and we create something and then it isn't there, we give up. But if we start at step one, and say, you know what, one through seven isn't gonna be very good. It ain't pretty. The first rough drafts they aren't very good. If you talk to any artist, he'll say, their initial sketches, their original ideas, the first drafts, whatever it is, they're kind of a wreck. They're kind of a mess. They are bad art, but that's okay. Adopting that mindset, it frees us up. Another way to generate momentum is to do different kinds of exercises. One that I would love to do with my students in the classroom, that you can do as well, is we call it this grab bag exercise, were we would write down different ideas, words, colors, emotions, objects. We'd write those down on little strips of paper and then put 'em in a hat. Then what the students would have to do is pull out a couple of words. And this is what I want you to try today. Write down 10 or 15 words, put 'em in a hat, and then pull out a few. Let's say you pull out the word feather and also lonely. You're next step is to then photograph lonely feathers. Okay, well how in the world are you gonna do that? It's gonna look horrible having these little lonely and sad feathers. But sometimes that's okay. Creating bad art can lead to other things. You might photograph the feathers and create this little lonely feather piece, and that will get you thinking about feathers, and then maybe you'll integrate it into a portrait project, or maybe a fashion scene, or who knows what it is. It gets the creative juices to flow. So that's exercise that you could do. So really, it's two things. I think it's adopting that mindset and then two, trying to do some exercises to help you just to get things to start to go. Alright, well last but not least, I wanna talk with you about one book that I think you may wanna read. If you really wanna develop this mindset, it's called, The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. Now if you do creative work of any kind, and just for the record, I think we we'll do creative work, regardless of our vocation or our career. I mean, life is creative, right. So if you do anything creative, and you haven't read this book, you're crazy. You're a little bit mad. This is a manual. This is a manifesto. This is a momentum generating machine. In this book Steven Pressfield talks about this idea of resistance, which holds us back whenever we wanna do or create something good. And my reading this, it can help you to shift that mindset so that you can create and generate some momentum yourself. Alright, so in closing and wrapping it up, a couple of things. One, think about your own mindset. It's okay to create bad art. Look for other sources you can go to, to be inspired and then second, try out that grab bag exercise where you write down a bunch of words, put 'em in a bag or hat, then pull out a few, and capture some frames.