“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
“You can be cautious or you can be creative. But you can’t be a
cautious creative…Good ain’t near great.”
George Lois, art director
Wonderful, isn’t it, the way the inspiration for our work can come from so many places? I just read a piece by Anne Sibley O’Brien, a children’s book illustrator, with some great advice for us all. In it, she talked about her growing inner desire to “be bold and fierce. To do the work that only I can do.” To spur herself on, she created a list of practices that in her experience help her be bolder and fiercer. Here are some of her approaches that we can apply to our own projects:
Sit in stillness: “Getting quiet is the core practice for shifting from the good ideas imposed by my busy, chattering brain to the much better ideas and images that bubble up from somewhere deeper in
Ask questions: Anne finds that her work often improves when she spends time “musing on the questions I’m asking and what I want to achieve.”
Visualize: Daydreaming about an unfinished piece: what it will be like when it’s completed and how it will make you feel can be a great motivator.
Use free writes: As Anne puts it: Setting her pen to paper and “writing without stopping for a timed segment is a good way to go digging for and be surprised by nuggets hidden in my unconscious.”
Create a buffer zone: when you are creating, give yourself an “envelope of quiet, time, ease and freedom around the work.” Focus totally, with no distractions.
Give it space: Creative work “benefits from time to mature like wine. I’m able to see more and take the work farther when I live with it for a while.”
Be serious, yet light: Take your work seriously, but “hold it lightly. Don’t apologize or make excuses. Instead, put that energy towards creating work” that you can be proud of.
Get help: Anne values the insights of Eric Maisel, a creativity coach and especially likes three of his many books: Coaching the Artist Within, The Creativity Book: A Year’s Worth of Inspiration and Guidance, and Fearless Creating: A step by Step Approach to Starting and Completing Your Work of Art.
Let’s be fierce and bolder — and see if we can use some of Anne’s advice this week as we write on!