Every one of us is creative. Every one of us has an inner artist (I’m going to call him Art for the sake of brevity) but we don’t all take the time to nurture Art. It’s hard work nurturing a creative child with a mind of its own, and it can be frustrating —painful even, especially if we haven’t picked up a paint set since second grade.
But there are ways to rediscover the creative, uninhibited Art you were as a child. One of those ways is what I call spring cleaning. No, not actual cleaning, although I’ve had excellent ideas come to me while vacuuming! I mean using nature; the return of buds and blossoms and the birth of creatures as a return to the artist that’s lying dormant inside you.
You may think your artist is non-existent, but it’s simply living inside you, waiting for you to bring it out of hibernation. My Art likes to go to sleep, too, especially after a busy period like I’ve just completed (I just published my fifth poetry collection and spoke at a journalism conference).
So how does spring cleaning work? It’s much more fun than actual cleaning. If you have a car, get in the car, and drive. If you don’t have a car, put on your running shoes, and go for a walk. Anywhere is good, except in heavy traffic! That will put you in a rotten mood and block poor Art, who just wants to run around outside, like the free-spirited child he is.
Bring along a voice recorder and record ideas that pop into your mind the minute you have them. Don’t be shy —this exercise is to shake loose the ideas lying dormant inside your mind. Let them loose! No one ever has to hear what you record but you.
If you have a camera, take that along, too. Stop the car or stop walking and snap photos or go explore anything that grabs your attention — this is Art telling you to take a few moments for him.
Just as with real spring cleaning, there are distractions that can stop you from getting anything accomplished when you spring clean with Art. These include feeling you simply don’t have the time to go play with a camera and a tape recorder, embarrassment, and feeling you need to obey rules.
You’ll have to dig deep and find the self-discipline required to simply not listen to those blocks if you really want to spring clean. Time? Yes. As technology increases the speed and ease of communication, employers are putting increasingly ridiculous expectations on us as employees. And there’s more: Early to rise, late to bed, families to care for, aging parents to look after. Where does that leave time for Art?
Make five minutes at first. That’s my Five Minutes First rule for anyone who thinks they aren’t creative, and don’t have the time to find out that they are. It takes five minutes to snap a photo, draw a picture with bright pencil crayons, cut some flowers and arrange them in a vase. I guarantee, once you find five minutes for your creative self one day, you’ll want to set aside 15 the next. Art is like that. He’s one persistent dude.
And what’s so embarrassing about standing with a camera by the side of the road at sunset? It’s far better than fuming about your day while stuck inside a car, like those passing by. As for rules, okay, please don’t get put in jail, but if you need to park in a stranger’s driveway so you can walk down their residential road and get a good shot of the river at the end of the street, go for it. You may want to knock on their door and ask for permission, but my bet is if they find out what you’re up to they’ll start telling you how they used to love photography, and how they wish they had more time for Art.
You may end up inspiring someone else to do some spring cleaning of their own. This is another trick Art loves. Once one artist is inspired to create, their whole community can be inspired.
Have fun spring cleaning!