This is a question I am often asked, and to which I have difficulty answering, as there are so many answers at once, and at the same time, no answers.
When I read the book « Big magic », by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of the world success « Eat, Pray, Love », I liked her theory on the origin of ideas, but also her definition of creativity.
OVERSTANDING YOUR FEARS TO EXPRESS YOUR CREATIVITY
The author begins with the concrete example of a friend, Susan, who started skating again at the age of 40. She had been involved in figure skating as a child, then stopped in her teens because there were better skater than her, and the only reason to skate was to compete and be the best. At least, that’s the way we are conditioned. At the age of 40, she began an introspection, because she did not feel happy, but did not know why. She thought about the last time she felt good in her life, and it was from the time of figure skating. That’s when, at 40, she decided to go back to skating for fun. This is how she regained her joy of life, without giving up anything in her life: this is what Elizabeth Gilbert calls leading a creative existence. Dare. Of course, you have to overcome the fear. Elizabeth personifies fear, just as she personifies creativity: fear is there, but every time she goes to do something creative, she tells the fear of not getting involved in her life.
WHAT ARE, WHO ARE THE IDEAS?
Humans have been creative beings for a very long time. It’s a natural impulse. The author personifies creativity, that is, ideas. It reminds me of a definition of art that Rachel Claudio gave me in Paris. Ideas would be energies that travel and find a host to be realized. When ideas come to us, we must respect them, honour them, seize them if we want to implement them, or thank them and let them go. Respect for the idea, Abraham Diallo also talks about it in his Petit Guide des Choses Simples, its intervention at the TED of Clermont Ferrand.
WHO DOES THE IDEAS belong to?
According to this theory, Elizabeth Gilbert finds an explanation for the fact that sometimes, often in fact, when we have an idea but we leave it aside, someone else realizes it: the idea has gone to find another host. As a result, she evokes the ownership of the idea, which is a good lesson for the ego. This is a problem that every creative person knows.
One day, when I was discussing a person who was copying what I was doing, with the artist Féfé, he answered that if it bothered me, it was because I had not gone far enough in my idea. Otherwise, I had nothing to worry about. That’s a bit like Elizabeth says, if you’ve respected your contract with the idea that came to you, there’s no problem. If someone else realized it before you, or after you started it, it’s because you didn’t respect your contract, and let the idea go. The idea has found a better host. The idea can also choose several hosts simultaneously in order to put all the chances on its side to be realized.
« It’s not about theft; it’s not about ownership; it’s not about tragedy or problem. Where inspiration comes from, there is no time or space – no competition, no ego or restrictions either. «
WORK, WORK, STILL AND ALWAYS…
Of course, the author talks about hard work: no pain no gain. And it feels good to remind it. Often people think that creative people just have a gift. While we all have this gift, as long as we breathe and have a functioning brain. Everyone has ideas. But achieving them requires work, hard work and dedication, on a daily basis, no matter what our situation. She brings us down to earth quite a bit: like, stop believing that you’re going to take a three-month sabbatical in a super cool and inspiring place to finish your project. Everyone dreams of course, but that’s no reason not to work on your creativity every day.
» I was aware that no one was going to come knocking on my door and say to me: « We believe that a talented and never published young writer lives here and we would like to help her to advance her career. «
… BUT LET IT GO
Indirectly, she talks a lot about letting go. Don’t put pressure on yourself, just respect the idea, work with it, coincidences happen, it’s like that, it doesn’t work, it’s like that, it’s to give way to something better. We can do things we like: write a book, a song, make a film, paint, learn a dance, visit a country, a city… If you’re alive, you’re creative. Art does not belong to a handful of elected officials as we are taught.
Why DO I LIVE A CREATIVE EXISTENCE?
Because creativity is the hallmark of our species. Because our life is not eternal, at least not physically, so we might as well make it as beautiful as possible by filling it with bright colours, new sounds, great love, risky decisions, strange experiences, bizarre undertakings, sudden changes, and even failure! Let’s have some nerve! Our art does not need to be original, or even important, it needs to be authentic: yes, most things have been done, but not by us.
« What often prevents you from leading a creative existence is precisely your self-centeredness (your doubts, your lack of self-esteem, the judgments you make about yourself and the defensive reflexes that paralyze you). «
HOW TO LEAD A CREATIVE EXISTENCE?
Here are the author’s tips for leading a creative existence:
– It is not necessary to be an artist to lead a creative existence.
– It is not necessary to give up everything and completely review your life.
– All we have to do is find the gold nuggets that are hidden inside us.
– We do not need anyone’s permission to lead a creative existence.
– Let’s do it seriously, of course, but let’s not take it seriously.
» Money certainly helps. But if money were the only thing people need to lead creative lives, billionaires would be the most imaginative, productive and original thinkers among us, and that is simply not the case. The ingredients of creativity remain exactly the same for everyone: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust – and these elements are universally accessible. «
DOING THINGS FOR FUN
This is the conclusion of this reading. I found this book important for that reason. As an artist living out her passions, we can sometimes get lost in this, between artistic and commercial projects, we can even lose the taste for our art. This book allowed me to question things, and to remember why I was doing this or that, and to put pleasure back in the spotlight.
It reminded me of an event: when I was dancing, we had a discussion one day between our dance teacher and the group, where we couldn’t understand each other. The teacher told us that if we didn’t have a show planned, we didn’t dance, that we needed a carrot to move forward, and that it wasn’t normal, we should just dance to dance. We told him that this was normal, that we needed motivation to train, to progress, etc. He told us that the only motivation should be dance, for dance, quite simply. We concluded with a misunderstanding of each other. Today, I understand so much what he wanted to tell us!
And besides, even though I lead a creative existence, I realized that I was missing something: dance. Except today, I won’t put any more pressure on myself, no need to be the best, no need to compete, just dance to dance.
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Cover photo: © 2015 Organic painting, Jessica VALOISE