The topic of creativity fascinates me. It is majestic and universal. Everyone has an inner creative genius. People who assert that they are not creative just need to broaden their view of what creativity is. We are all creating, all the time. We create homes, families, businesses, our own lives. We solve problems and build things and create software and movies and meals and thoughts. And of course, there is painting and dancing, writing and making music.
In my favorite book on creativity, the War of Art, author Steven Pressfield writes about the importance of some routine and order when trying to create professionally. I love what he has to say about the serious artist: “He is on a mission. He will not tolerate disorder. He eliminates chaos from his world in order to banish it from his mind. He wants the carpet vacuumed and the threshold swept, so the Muse may enter and not soil her gown.” So the Muse may enter and not soil her gown. I read through his book a second time just to get to that passage again. Creativity comes through the empty spaces, the open heart, the uncluttered mind and room. It is in this space that we can get creatively messy.
Pressfield spends a good portion of his book describing the perils of resistance. Whenever we intend to embark on something innovative or artistic, or even simply attempt to create a new and healthy habit, resistance can rear its ugly head. The author even goes as far as to say that yielding to resistance deforms the spirit.
Our options for distraction, or creative resistance, are nearly limitless and can slay our creativity before we ever have the chance to explore it. Reaching for distraction can be a knee jerk reaction to any kind of discomfort, from boredom to depression. It numbs our fears and enables us to procrastinate. But to not entertain our resistance, to dive into the stillness and poke around, is to invite the extraordinary. In the void, we stand a chance of churning out something new. Maybe it won’t happen that moment or that day, but eventually it will burst through as an idea, a creative urge, the solution to a problem, fresh and stunning.