On Creativity: A Simple Practice to Create with Outrageous Openness
Last Thursday, I wrote an article about my own near-death experience. After almost 4 years, to write this story down was to excavate dark terrain in my psyche in search of a Pandora box. And to open the box, and set whatever locked inside free. I was petrified. Nevertheless, that painful story was written and told.
After I’d clicked the Publish button, I immediately shut down my laptop, and ran off to the yoga class. While I was on my way, my ego whispered to my right ear: “You are done, Milena! Now you are exposed. Now the world is examining you like airport security officers scrutinizing your X-Ray while you’re standing star-fish in the scan machine. They will spot that you are carrying something forbidden – excessed openness and vulnerability, and they will shoot you in your jugular.” Nothing but my ego’s dirty little trick to mess with my mind, I ignored it.
Nevertheless, I felt disorderly, slightly angry. Whatever formidable thing I let loose from the Pandora box had wrecked a hole on my self-defense system. All at once, I was walking on the street under the sun as raw as newborn bird. Naked. As who I really am. I was so alive I thought if people could see my energy they would kidnap me to use as their personal dynamo.
What I describe above doesn’t happen only last Thursday. It happens whenever my excavation succeeds – whenever I’m able to reach deep, to let go, and to tell a truthful, good story. I name this state “Outrageous Openness” (stolen from a book title). Albeit the disorienting side-effects that will lessen with time, this is a magnificent state to be in. Especially, but not exclusively for artists, I believe. Outrageous Openness is for anyone who want to live more of life.
This, in fact, was our natural state. Babies are very open. They are all gifted artists and unconditional lovers. But for most of us, upbringing ruined artistry. We learned to judge ourselves as much as how we were judged by the adults of our childhood. They scared us off from the state of openness until it remains for us a mere act of foolish audacity. If we want to be creative and alive – both are natural, we simply need to unlearn these unhealthy lessons: the tendency to judge and the inclination for self-defense.
I am complete beginner, infant in artistry. But in the last 6 months, from a person who had zero creative confidence, I’ve made progress that surprised myself. I’ve read many books written by artists and writers and tried out their suggestions. The practice below works for me. I believe it will also help you unlock your creative energy.
The morning pages.
Every morning I wake up and without brushing my teeth or checking my mobile phone, I go straight to my desk to pour out 3 pages of longhand writing. I leave no margin, fill in the whole page. I aim for quantity, not quality. I do not think, I just keep my hand moving and jot down whatever that bubbles up in my consciousness.
Yesterday I couldn’t sleep so well because Potato kept waking up during the night and ran in and out of my room. He jumped on the bed right next to my head and freaked me out. He is a fluffy ball of white fur, kinda looks creepy in the dark…My father and my mother is downstairs doing their breakfast routine…I’m very sleepy I have just yawned…
This is certainly not “writing” or “good art”. I don’t post these pages on my blog. I don’t even re-read them (Even if I want my handwriting looks like caveman’s drawing after eating too much mushroom.). But this is an incredible way to dumb out the surface of your psyche and reach down to the deeper lever of consciousness, where the good stuff is.
I bought for myself lots of spiral-bound, unruled, 90-sheet, A4 notebook. 3 pages every morning, I fill 1 notebook every month. I do it every morning whether I have the mood for it or not. If you think that you need to have the mood to create, you don’t. Show up, give yourself to the creative process and mood will come, sooner or later.
What’s really important is to not think, not discriminate, not judging “Oh this is a good sentence. That one is stupid!” Coal or gold, you dumb it all out.
And why do this? Because this simple practice trains you to distant yourself from both your inner Judge, and inner Victim.
Judge: This is a piece of crap. There is absolutely no originality at all. This is absurd. Don’t people you do this! Who do you think you are?
Victim: Oh my God! I’m so stupid. I have no talent at all. What am I doing? I’m so shameless to even think of becoming a writer/painter/sculptor/(whatever you want to become). I ought to go sell insurance.
This whole scene happens in our heads. It happens in mine every single day. But the more I do the morning pages, the more distant their voices become. The more immune you are to those self-destructive thoughts, the more creatively confident you become.
Here comes Neverland…
This is the truth. Ask any true artists, they will validate this point. And by “true” I mean those who create admirable arts without having to sedate their mind with alcohol, sex, or drug; those who are or aren’t full-time artists, but are surely full-time people. They will tell you the same thing.
The morning pages isn’t only for artist. It is useful for everyone. Who doesn’t need creativity in his life? Creativity is the one thing that put us above the fastest, most intelligent machine. Whether you are a lawyer, an engineer, a doctor, a farmer, or a housewife, creativity is indispensable for your life and work. And Having an artistic endeavor may or may not make you the next Picasso, but will surely give your life pleasure and meaning. Have no doubt about its ability to awake the 5-year-old sleeping in you. That child will take your hand and bring you to Neverland - a place of Outrageous Openness.