Bob Ross tells us that “We don't make mistakes, just happy little accidents,” and that “Talent is a pursued interest. Anything that you're willing to practice, you can do.”
All respect to the PBS master, my "happy little accidents" tend to look like Rorschach inkblots. I am not a painter. I know this. There is a disconnect between my brain and my hand once a paintbrush is in my fingers and I'm unwilling to put in the hours to become better because I'm more interested in pursuing other creative interests. But I find inspiration in paintings and painters. Both have crept into my writing, often in unusual and unexpected ways.
I'm a firm believer that creativity is something you practice, that inspiration may come unexpectedly, but that you have to practice being creative for that inspiration to become something worthwhile. Turns out, science has backed this up. In a recent study, researchers at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, linked musical improvisation (i.e. a creative task) with increased brain activity compared to rote playback or other less creative tasks, suggesting that creativity is a distinct mental state. The study concluded that "Our findings further imply that creativity can be nurtured through training, and illustrate that immersion in the creative state has high cultural and economic value because it yields higher quality products.”
Would Bob's "happy little accidents" have looked more like my blobs than birds if he hadn't put in the time and effort to hone his craft? I think so. Still, I advocate that a steady diet of unusual-to-you encounters is just as vital as training. Along with your practice, spend an evening attending that wine (or whine) and paint workshop, read a book, or listen to a live band. Make sure it's something you think you'll enjoy. It doesn't have to be expensive or difficult, just something you don't always do for yourself. Call it fuel for creativity.
In her book The Artist's Way, Julie Cameron calls them "Artist Dates." Along with the daily pages she promotes for creatives, Cameron says that the purpose of "Artist Dates" is to ensure creative outflow. They're a play date with yourself, a way to replenish the creative well you pull from to...well, create. Hours to years after your brain processes that date experience, it can pop up as dance move, a short story, or part of a lesson you are sharing with other creators.
So creatives, take some inspiration this week to train your creativity. Do a little hard work, then reward yourself with something new to stimulate your brain. Tell me about your training, unusual experience, or what you're creating in the comments below.
Have a great week, Creatives.
Harley Easton is a Renaissance woman dabbling in everything life offers. She's worked at a theme park, found expert witnesses, been a guest lecturer at a national museum, and worked with medical students. Putting experience and insanity to good use, she's become an author specializing in erotic, romantic, and speculative fiction.