Limits to creativity

Most of my life is focused on creative pursuits. I’m surrounded by artists, and my own work — even the dullest copy — requires some creativity. Lately, though, it just hasn’t seemed enough.

I looked around for a photo of something I’d painted, but didn’t find anything I wanted to put up, so here’s one of the canvases I painted with Adam for our wedding.

I feel the need to try something new. I’ve always dabbled with various art forms. I’ve regularly painted, and it used to be a standard way of clearing my head. It was a distraction from the words that fill my brain most of the time. Visual art became a shorthand for me.

My paintings were always angsty cliches, but I was a teenager. It was okay. I hung a gagged and bound Barbie upside down from a hook on my bedroom ceiling. One of my bedroom walls became a 10-foot-wide mural, full of human heart diagrams, playing cards, and depressive references. (The only time I got in any trouble for any of it was when I decided that the background needed to be filled in, using silver Krylon, and without covering any of the furniture or opening the window. The results were as to be expected.)

In the following years, once I was in New York, I again used visual art as a way of breaking away from words. Sketching kept my head clear. I’d sit in the park and draw rocks, or go to the Met and do crude renditions of various sculptures. It wasn’t a matter of being good, just of it not being words.

In many ways, art became the same as walking. When I wasn’t able to do meandering and occasionally self-destructive walks through the darkened Manhattan streets, I would draw. The words were still there, but they weren’t the focus. They couldn’t get to me.

There’s something beautifully solitary about writing, and any other art forms I’ve put my hand to have also been somewhat isolationist. They gave reason to sitting in a park and not doing anything. Sketching and writing kept me from being the crazy woman just sitting there, watching squirrels.

Most of my sketching, and almost all of my painting, involved words eventually. They were always there, creeping back in. I could only fight them off for so long.

Lately, I’ve felt the need to have something to distract me from the words. I need some other shorthand for the ideas. I’ve played with photography, but struggle with its lack of input. I need to observe and create at the same time, but there’s something about photography that has never fully satisfied my brain. It also doesn’t help that my vision is slightly blurry, making it more of a challenge to get what I want out of it.

I still have too many craft projects around, but most of those are just things to occupy my hands at night. They aren’t the right sort of creativity for head clearing. They don’t distract enough.

As of now, I’m unsure. I don’t know what to do, and what will give me the level of distraction I need. I need something to make the thoughts flow freely, but holding back the torrent of words. I’m open to suggestions. What can be the dam for the words that swirl around? What will let through the ones that need to be let through?

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About jeninher30s

A writer and procrastinator.

3 responses to “Limits to creativity”

  1. vivisunoriginal says :

    Music? I forget what instrument it is that you used to play? I know lots of people who relax by playing guitar…not that relaxing is exactly what you’re after. Does your creativity have to have a physical result though, an object that will last rather than a sound which is instantly gone.

    • jeninher30s says :

      I used to play a few things… none of them very well, and nowhere near well enough to ship any of them over when I came to the UK. I always tended to get more frustrated with my inability to play well than anything else.

      I don’t know that it needs to have a physical result, though. I could try to learn guitar. It might not end well.

  2. The Wandering Youth says :

    Just keep going and you will get through this slump! Maybe try writing down your ideas. That’s what I do to get them out of my head

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