I have had, so very many times, conversations with friends that basically boil down to: “I have no idea what they are trying to do here,” or, “[Insert Name Here] is being obstinate and refusing to do what I need them to,” or “[Insert Name Here] is not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, they keep going off in this complete other direction and I’m not sure I want to follow….” No, they aren’t talking about children, or challenging friends. They are talking about fictitious characters, individuals that no one else knows.
Conversations with other writers, when talking about our work, seem to have these same threads. Or really conversations with any artists, although it is usually only writers who I find faced with a character that is refusing to cooperate in this way, those who will not move in the direction that the story is supposed to go. It is often writers that I hear talk about suddenly being faced with absolute silence from characters that previously wouldn’t shut-up. For artists who work in other mediums the reality of the challenges are somewhat different, but the general concepts are the same. There are times when our craft is wrenched out of our control and we are at the mercy of that unknown something that helps drive and inspire our art.
It seems like I’ve been having a lot of these kinds of conversations lately, and those conversations have prompted me to do some reflection (which, in turn has led to more conversations on the matter). I’ve realized that the vast majority of the people I know, indeed I think all of the people I count as my friends, are creative/artistic “types.” I attended a small high school which had an arts (and communications) focus, and a small liberal arts college that placed an emphasis on self-directed learning and writing, which helped in this gathering of creative-minded friends, certainly. And I think there is an element of like-drawn-to-like. It makes sense that I would be drawn to people with similar interests and free-time activities. And perhaps that something as intrinsic to my way of interacting with and approaching the world is going to influence how I connect to others — and therefore influence the kind of people I find myself forming bonds with.
And I find that, even if at first glance the people I interact with don’t consider themselves to be artists (often because they lack a particular “artistic” medium in which they work), I can put them into the creative/artistic category because of how I see them engaging with the world around them. And, because I exist in a world surrounded by such people, I find myself trying to imagine what it would be like to engage with the world not as a creative person. A little research shows that there is a lot of commentary, and a number of studies that explore the ways of the “creative type,” many of them presented in such a manner that I begin to feel like some sort of mythological beast. Here are the habits of those “creative people,” to help you better understand how they function in the world (which could be translated, I suppose, to: here is why those weird artsy-friends you have are weird and how to properly interact with such beings). I read these as someone who spends a lot of time appreciating that I am surrounded by people who not only understand my “strange” ways, but are steeped in their own, similar, practices.
I hope to start to explore some of these ideas more. I want to respond to some of the articles about the way that “creative types” interact with the world, and dig deeper into some of what is suggested. And, with the idea that “creatives” interact differently, then we must be acting differently than something…”normal” people? Are there really these apparent “non-creatives” out there? Where do they hide? What do they do in their free time? Where are the articles and studies about them?
Snarking aside, I feel like there is a lot to explore around the ways that we interact with the world, because it does have an impact on everything we do. How we interact with others, the ways in which we think about things, and the actions that we ultimately take… they are all informed by the things that we place value on in our daily lives, the patterns and actions we hold to. I am always interested in trying to step outside of my own experience and imagine what it is like to be living the world through someone else’s eyes (and typing that I realize that is exactly one of the things that at least one article notes as being a habit of these “creative people.”)
And I am curious about how the things that I do as a writer are mirrored by others who engage in creative arts. Other writers may have similar methods at times, but I also know that there is a vast amount of different ways to approach the work. And that those methods become even more diverse when opening up to look at how artists who work in other mediums may engage with their craft. What keeps us going? What drives us? And how do others handle this need to do our work. Because it is that, and I know that it isn’t just me, who face this compulsion where we have to do our art.
What really are the marks of “creative people”? And is there really such a difference between those who consider themselves to be artists, or to be creative, and those who do not?
And, with all these questions in mind, and because I have set a goal for myself to actually update this blog more than once every few months, I am going to start trying to explore some of these questions and ideas. I want to look closer at the things that I do, which are apparently marks of a “creative person,” and why I do them. And I want to ask all of you (whoever is actually reading this) what things you do to help fuel your creative works. And I want to explore some of those things that I’m finding as I really allow myself to delve (for the first time in a very long time) into thinking myself as a writer, and really devoting serious time and energy to my writing. To my art.
So, more reflections on creativity to come!