|Creative Development for Artists, Writers and all Artistic Creativity|
Seriously? Yes Seriously.
How Can We Be In Two Places At Once?
Actually we’re always in two places at once. But it’s knowing it and understanding it that can free us up from creative tensions and frustrations, and give us the power to focus and produce at enhanced levels.
Here are the two places:
- We are always ‘in the moment’ but most of the time, although we are physically in the moment, mentally we’re off with the fairies – thinking about anything but the here and now.
- We are also in a place of continual process – actually in lots of processes – but what we’re focussing on here is our own unique, ongoing creative process.
It’s this second idea – the idea of process (constant change and development) that is our gateway to truly enjoying and getting the most out of the first, being in the moment.
I’ll use an example.
Andy Goldsworthy – the Artist of Process
I started thinking about this topic a few weeks back at the breathtaking Andy Goldsworthy exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (UK). If you don’t know Goldsworthy’s work – he uses entirely natural resources available in whichever location that he’s making his art. His materials can be extremely fragile, leaves, petals and twigs, for example, or more durable: wood, stone, sand, clay, pebbles. Some of his art will remain in place for centuries but much is gone within a day or so.
I can’t think of a better example of what I mean by process than Goldsworthy – both in terms of his art and his creative development.
For Goldsworthy the aesthetics of process seem just as important as the ‘finished article’ except that with most of Goldsworthy’s art the finished article is in fact slap bang in the middle of a process of building, completion and decay. It’s not the finished article alone that is the art, it’s the whole process. Often all that’s left is a photograph, a record of that moment in time when that particular piece was ‘complete’. Frequently though, there are a series of photographs capturing and emphasising the making, completion and decay – the process.
But it’s not just Goldsworthy’s art that exemplifies the idea of creative process – it’s Goldsworthy himself.
Goldsworthy Himself is a Creative Process (as are we all)
How do you get to the levels of creative power and excellence of a Goldsworthy? By focus, belief, experiment, practice, playfulness – and simply continuing to do your stuff.
Ten years back, Andy Goldsworthy couldn’t have produced what he’s producing now – and that’s not in any way denigrating his fabulous back catalogue. It’s just that the process of those ten years was necessary for him to get where he is now.
How Does This Help Double Our Creative Output?
Accepting the beauty and power of your own creative and artistic process is one of the most liberating moves you’ll ever make. It will help you feel comfortable with where you are now, yet simultaneously motivate you to higher achievement. And the key to taking power from this is in seeing that you are in two places at the same time. It’s what I call ‘the duality of process’.
Accept Your Current Place in the Process
Putting aside regrets and frustrations and beginning to accept that you are where you are is where the true power lies. Let’s face it, you can only be where you are in your own creative process. Thoughts about where you would like to be or where you think you should be are only distractions. You might like to be further along your own line of process, but you are where you are.
The best way to get some place else, some place better, is to focus on and enjoy each particular moment of artistic and creative activity. Remember that you are only ever at a single point of your creative process – but you are also only ever at that particular point once.
Make the most of it.
Frustration versus Fascination
It’s when I keep this in mind that I do my best guitar practice. Rather than being frustrated with what I can’t do, I become fascinated by it. And while frustration chops away at learning and enjoyment, fascination absolutely ensures both. Fascination is experimental, and meditative, and detailed.
Frustration spoils the present, often by comparing it to a desired future, and so makes that future more difficult to attain. Fascination focuses totally on the moment and in the process helps you move towards that future.
Quality and Quantity
Look at the vast amount of work that a well established, successful artist, musician or writer produces in their process of being an artist. To those of us that haven’t produced so much, or of such quality, it can seem mind boggling. Yet each item in their portfolio is a result of single individual points where they gave themselves over to the fascination of the moment.
Look at the ability, the know-how and the sheer creative power. Where has it come from? From a process of accumulation: the sum of countless individual, unique moments. And each one of those unique moments takes us further along the creative process – the art of our life.
Want to Double Your Output By Being In Two Places At Once?
- Accept that you are where you are in your creative process
- Embrace the fascination and power of now
- Remember that you are both ‘in the moment’ and also inhabiting a larger place of process
- Be aware that being in the moment is about more than now. It changes you and your place in your process
Your creative practice will help you move along the line of creative process. But when you are in the moment of your creative practice, think only of that.
A huge thank you to Claire Else for the Duality of Process Graphic.
Please note that the Goldsworth images in this post are not from his current exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park – I couldn’t find images that were not copyright.