Editor’s note: Today we have a special treat. I chose Lisa Wiffledust, creator of the online creativity community Wiffledust, to pen Creative Liberty’s first guest post. Going forward, I hope to ask other artists and innovators the question I asked Lisa – “What does creative momentum mean to you?” Enjoy her answers to this question!
I am the creator of an organization called Wiffledust, which is dedicated to keeping creative minds wide open, so I was honored when Liz asked me to guest blog about creative momentum, a subject near and dear to me.
You would even think I know something about it, right? Well the truth is sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t. Creative momentum can be as practical as reaching for the pencil or as mysterious as trying to channel spirits from another world. One thing I know for sure is that being creative comes as naturally to us as breathing, and figuring out a way to conjure up creative momentum is probably less effective than eliminating the obstacles to it.
For example, Liz speaks on this blog about de-cluttering as a way towards creative momentum. I have an ongoing relationship with clutter. Sometimes I need my clutter like Linus needs his blanket. I often use it as an excuse to not start a project, as an excuse why one is not yet finished, and an excuse why it wasn’t done correctly or on time. If only the damn clutter weren’t there, I’d be perfect. If only I could have a craft room like Martha Stewart, I’d paint some humdinger pieces of furniture. If that clutter hadn’t been blocking my light, I’d have not missed that spot. Boy oh boy would I be able to design a fabulous velvet ribbon tieback to those curtains if only the books on the windowsill weren’t in my way. If all of my magic markers were in one spot and color coded, I wouldn’t have spent all day looking for that dusty rose newborn baby cheek coral papal shoe red that I needed to make the color just right! Clutter must be the enemy if I would be perfect without it, right?
Well, shhh… don’t tell Liz, but I really have had some humdinger ideas and created some fantastic goodies in a cluttered environment. I have wrapped one-of-a-kind Christmas presents in a messy corner, baked delicious cookies in a messy kitchen, and I have had creative revelations in the middle of the night when it was so dark I didn’t know if it was cluttered or not. And I have had some dry spells when my stuff was as perfectly put away as if Mary Poppins had spit spotted them into perfect categories herself.
So does this mean that de-cluttering doesn’t matter?
No. It matters, not because of the clutter itself, but because of the meaning we bring to it. And most of us don’t enter a cluttered workspace with the thought, “Oh goodie, I can’t wait to create a big mess in here”. Most of us look at a big pile of clutter and feel a sense of inadequacy. Clutter more often than not creates anxiety in people who are already trying to be “perfect.” So unless you are the type of person who really doesn’t notice the clutter, you are more likely than not going to use the clutter as a way to beat up on yourself. And anxiety and self-flagellation are the opposite of creative activity.
The answer for me is a combination of making peace with the fact that a creative life is one that is constantly making continued use of the material world. Therefore, there will always be clutter in your creative life, unless you are just starting out. So I accept that the clutter is part of the process, while simultaneously recognizing that too much of it will make me anxious and drag me down to the point of procrastination. So having a few projects going at the same time is OK and even inspiring. Having 40 out and begging for your attention is going to make you go out for coffee.
I believe everyone can access their creative momentum … just try to not get in its way!