I’m about to describe to you a secret that very few people on earth know, and the ones that do aren’t telling everyone about it. I take that back – they do tell us, but most of us don’t believe them.
I’m here to confirm those hidden truths.
This is how an artist makes artwork. Anyone can do it, because talent doesn’t matter much. The hurdle for most of us is simply identifying ourselves as a creative, and then behaving as though that were true.
I’m going to walk you through the process, step by step. Are you ready? Get some sleep.
Make yourself get up. Get up as early as the earliest riser in your house, and make them a little breakfast or pack a lunch, and pour yourself a cup of coffee. Drink it. (If you are a morning exerciser, or, God help you, a runner, then get that over with.)
Send off your loved one with a kiss, and sit right down and write your morning pages. If your loved one does not leave the house, then you have to leave. Find a coffee shop or your office or your car, and write your morning pages.
Julia Cameron links morning pages to the creative process, and she was right. Just empty your head for three pages, no more and no less. Write lists if that makes you happy, it doesn’t really matter. Your rational mind gets bored by the last page and checks out, and then you can tell yourself some nice things, a little pep talk, without getting the eye-roll from yourself. This is important.
(You may need to shower, or get dressed or comb your hair. Or just put on a hat).
This is a studio day. Go to the space where you make things, and pace around. You have some unfinished projects.
( They are unfinished because they lack a crucial component: a deadline. Leave them until a deadline makes itself available.)
Turn on music.
You have a project that started out as puttering, a side thing, something that if one asks, “What are you doing, what is it, what will it be?” you would say “Oh, its nothing”. Its an exercise, a study in color, I was just using up some leftovers, I’m going to throw it out/give it away, you tell yourself.
Get it out and work on it. If someone asks you about it today, you may not call it “nothing”. You can distract them by asking them a personal question, but you have to be honest about this project. You have to say to them, and yourself, “I don’t know yet”. YET, I said. Don’t forget the “yet”.
If you don’t have one of these tentative things, then begin one.
Go eat lunch. Eat until you aren’t hungry any more. Talk to some people, make a phone call, check on something that has you worried.
Go outside and pull some weeds, plant a few seeds, dig around in the dirt, or mow grass. Be startled by the Sandhill Cranes flying in formation overhead, honking in the quiet sky, or a nest tucked away on the porch.
Run some errands if you have to in order to keep peace with the ones that you love. Sit down and research something that came to you while you were puttering. Check facebook and emails, and go back to that thing and there it is.
The idea. The reason, the connection, the focus. You know what to do next in the studio.
You know what to do next.
Creative Magic (or Process, as some like to call it) is knowing what to do next. Not the final product, but just the next step.
Get some sleep.