Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ninety Percent of Creativity is Showing Up

I have spent time in the last couple of months taking stacks of snapshots from the living room cabinets and running them through a portable scanner.  Many pictures of kids, celebrations, pets and the occasional picture of early career art.  It's been an interesting look back to see where I came from artwise.  My early days after art school were meager, chasing too few illustration jobs at ad agencies and book publishers.  I admit I wasn't ready for prime time.  We were going through another recession at the time and it set the level of difficulty for a free lance artist.  Apparently it would always be hard. And it would require discipline and committment that I wasn't sure I had.

In 1985 I was offered an opportunity painting murals in Olive Garden Restaurants. It was my dream to travel,  and it was my dream to paint. This job had both. The company had only 3 restaurants at the time, but soon they got huge seed money from parent company General Mills, and I had my lucky break. 

But with the upside came the down.  I needed to hand paint a 90 square foot mural every 2 days, 4 to 6 days a week - and often in the opposite end of the country from the previous week.  Hard work and discipline were my only chances at surviving the program schedule.

Creativity doesn't flow at constant speed.  You have good creative days and you have not so good.  But I discovered something that has stayed with me since.  I found to be successful you have to be there when the muse visits.  "There" is normally in the studio with a loaded brush.  In my case, a partially built restaurant.  The set schedule and pressure to succeed made me a better painter.  A similar rule applies to writing or other creative processes.  A scheduled block of work time puts you in the field of opportunity. And the goal of a show or an accomplished body of work can be great inspiration.

Today I decided I need to treat my writing with the same discipline as painting.  I go to work each day because my mind engages when I turn on the studio light.  Only then do I have the opportunity to act on inspiration.  Sometimes it doesnt work but most times at least one good thing happens and it calls me to come back for more.  I'll hope that writing more frequently here does the same.

So set aside a scheduled block of time for making your art or your music or writing that book.  Carve out the work time to realize your inspiration