The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before. – Neil Gaiman
As children, my cousins and I used to chase rainbows on our bicycles. We would peddle like fury to see who could get to the end first. Opinions varied as to what we might find – David and Barry went the traditional route with gold, Jane thought an unlimited supply of the most amazing sweets, Gary said motorbikes, Andrew ‘Didn’t know’ and I thought it may just be the entrance to Narnia (Wardrobes being far too boring …).
Deep down, I think we all secretly knew that we would never reach the end of the rainbow, but it became an irrelevance, it was the thrill of the chase and the magic of possibility that drove us on.
The reason I’m saying this is two-fold – firstly, certain folklore suggests the rainbow symbolises new beginnings and following our heart’s desire and purpose; and secondly, I believe creativity is like a rainbow, in that it perfectly symbolises our need to create fresh beginnings by following our heart’s desire and, yes, following the magic is far more important than the destination, because I further believe that whilst time may be finite, creativity is endless and boundless. What makes it so magical is that it is a continuous process of working towards something but never quite knowing where we will end – if ever.
Okay, so you may no longer have the desire to chase rainbows on a bike (although you can if you wish!) but a creative life enables you to chase the equivalent, for once you get into the creative groove life becomes insuppressible – you get going and keep going.
But how do you get going?
Well, you will see here that I had a very limited view of what creativity meant, which held me back for a long time, and I know from many conversations I have had that I was certainly not alone in such views.
But there’s no big secret to creativity and the simplest definition I could find is this –
‘… the ability to use imagination and thoughts to come up with ideas …’
You will see variations of the above, but they really do amount to very much the same thing, with ideas meaning anything from a recipe, a piece of writing, a concept, a way of working, a way of life, and so on.
I believe the best way to prepare and immerse yourself into a creative life is to have a framework around which to build your creative mind-set – I have one and I call it IDEA:
Intention (to be creative)
Determination (what form that creativity will take)
Engagement (in the process)
Action(s) (to facilitate and maintain creativity)
Intention for me used to mean muttering and mumbling vaguely about ‘Doing Something’ and ultimately doing nothing. But then I got wise to the fact that intention is key to everything we do – it’s not about goal setting but a statement of who you want to be and how you want to make your mark on the world. That may sound rather grand and it’s not about taking on the entire world, merely the world in which you wish to inhabit and make it the very best that you can.
I tend to think of it as an internal Sat Nav where you can plot your course and set the direction in which you want to travel. Setting your Sat Nav in this way ensures that you have a purpose and purposefulness generates energy. Energy in turn gives you the wherewithal to create your thoughts and your thoughts create your reality because this little tinker gets the message.
I’ve always been a determined cuss but sadly the wrong kind of determination – my brand involved shouting and a lot and stubbornness which, oh surprise, often got me the wrong result, meant nothing and completely wore me out – couple that with my being a rather tired old bugger anyway and you can see the problem.
It came as rather more than a surprise to learn that there is this kind with no shouting involved! –
‘The act of coming to a decision or of fixing or settling a purpose.’
And, total shocker, I discovered that if I looked on determination as opening the door and inviting my ideas in, so that I fed my intention, then progress could be made. I’m not being sarcastic, it really hadn’t occurred to me although, in mitigation, I was tired from all the shouting and getting my own way …
But once I had understood that to determine what was best for me involved sifting through my ideas, letting them percolate a while and then tie them down was a lot let stressful than stamping and shrieking, I was well on my way.
Having a great idea and accepting that, although it may be a corker, it may not necessarily be the right one for you is difficult and, yes, I’ve stuck with more than a few because I let my heart rule my head – wasting rather a lot of time before I finally arrived at the inevitable.
I’ve discovered that Engagement is a crucial part of the creative cycle and necessary for evaluating and looking at any idea from multiple perspectives. If I tell you I also call this part of the process ‘SWOTting up before SCAMPERING off to Disney wearing one of my Six Hats!’ – You might just get an idea of where I head with this one …
But if you don’t – fear not for I am a talker and there will be very little danger of me not waxing lyrical about it in the weeks ahead …
I stuck the ‘(s)’ in to remind me that it’s parallel actions – to act on ideas and act to facilitate and maintain a creative attitude. Sounds rather easy but it is difficult not to get too caught up in one at the expense of the other. It’s PowerPoint for me, I can sit for hours getting sassy with my slide sorter and everything else is in danger of having to take a hike – except the cat who gets a bit snarky if I don’t open her a tin of something tasty at 7 pm exactly.
Of the four components, Action(s) is the most problematical and, honestly, I often feel that I would darned well avoid it if I could but then I would just revert to the bad old days of stuffing so, grudgingly, I do know which the better course is.
I’ve found that by framing my creative path in this way helps me to stay focused, and if anyone needs focus it is me! I suppose I can simplify what I am saying a little further by satisfying my need to have three pastel splotches on the page, and feed my alliteration addiction at the same time, thus –
If you think my IDEA would drive you nuts then you can certainly find other creative steps out there with which to work. I do hope, however, that I have given you enough to inspire you to act. Though, ultimately, whatever process you arrive at, the very best foundation you can give yourself on which to build is to prepare to be creative, because –
He who is best prepared can best serve in his moment of inspiration – Samuel Taylor Coleridge