It may seem strange that a person engaged in visual and tactile art-making would find inspiration in a blog post titled Seven Secrets of Spectacular Bloggers. But it is true. We are all people of habits, and mine (unfortunately) have not been conducive to extreme productivity in any field. I wrote papers for college and grad school at the last minute, I skimmed most of what I read, and I have adopted a precarious creative process I affectionately refer to as “stewing.” So when I read this blog post about successful blogging, I took some words to heart.
I’m not here to re-write that great post (you should read it for yourself), but the condensed version of that blog post goes like this: Habits build who we are.
Seriously, that’s it. Very classic, if you ask me. The concept of “virtue ethics” is similarly based in habitual practice: by practicing generosity you become a generous person, or by practicing patience you become a patient person; likewise, by practicing gluttony you become a gluttonous person, or by practicing envy you become an envious person. Habits build who you are. And if you don’t like who you are, you can change your habits.
Today’s recommended reading encourages you to: 1. write daily, 2. confront your inner critic, 3. connect with readers regularly, 4. write for yourself and your audience, 5. keep it positive, 6. tell a story well, and 7. find your own voice. These habits, when practiced and integrated, become part of who you are. You don’t just write better… you become a better writer.
What does this have to do with art-making? It’s two-fold.
First, art-making, despite its stereotypical emphasis on spontaneous bursts of creativity, is really all about habits. We have to train ourselves to see the art in everyday objects, to understand why two colors–when placed in just the right combination–make your heart sing. We have to acquire the habit of being creative, not just possessing creativity.
This has been incredibly difficult for me. I was born with creativity, but becoming a creative person has been a challenge of habit-building. My current habits have made me crave routine yet often reject it. When I gear up to make art, I often find myself overwhelmed by the process, underwhelmed by my ideas, or talking myself out of perfectly great ideas before I even get started. I need a more consistent schedule… if nothing else than to help me realize that art-making is a necessary part of my day. But don’t fret… that’s coming.
Second, the creative process has the astounding ability to incorporate multiple forms of outward creativity. The artist who paints is also the artist who builds frames, stretches canvas, mixes paint, and ponders the ultimate significance of daubs of color washed over a canvas. And if they are lucky, they are also the artist who draws an audience–no matter what size that audience is.
My own creative process incorporates this blog. Writing (even though I wrote papers last minute in college and grad school), is a uniquely creative and soul-bearing experience for me. I may not be “good” at it yet, but building the habit of becoming a writer is as important to me as becoming an artist.
That is why I have chosen to develop a more consistent routine with you, my readers. I want to write here (in the JacquieMade portion of my blog) at least twice a week… about what inspires me, what I’m currently working on, and other topics in art-making and liturgical life that appear.
Here’s hoping that a more consistent schedule will help me to become a better artist, a better writer, and a better person.
But I’m curious to know what you think: how does creativity work for you?