Public and Private Creativity

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Last weekend I finished reading Kim Werker’s book ‘Make It Mighty Ugly’.

I love this book.  I love you, Kim, for writing this book.

There are a load of reasons why I love Kim’s book.  For me, the main reason–she is clearly a kindred spirit when it comes to creativity.

On page 116 she describes an aspect of her creative process.  This is the first time, since I began reading creativity books, someone has described a pattern that is dominant in my creative process.

As a writer and artist, I cycle between two creative states.  I work full on, taking everything in, being connected, being public with what I am doing thinking making—art shows, blog, social media, leading workshops.  Then I go dark.  I retreat to my studio, shut the door, and continue making but in private.  I do not want to see, talk, or interact with anyone.  Leave me alone.  In this creative state, I bite.

I have always created in this way, always shifted from one state to the other.

I used to think because I wasn’t entirely one state or the other, there was something wrong with me.  I thought I was being wishy-washy and inconsistent, possibly unreliable.  Isn’t that one of the myths, artists are unreliable?

It took me years to understand this is my creative process.

My creativity has and needs both my public and private states of making.  These states are not opposites.  They are partners.  Each feeds, supports, and inspires the other.

Maybe this is obvious to you, but for some reason I couldn’t see it.  I had to learn by doing, understand through experiencing, that this pattern of creating is my normal.  I learned there is not something wrong with me.  This is the way I operate.

The other thing I learned from accepting my pattern of creating is there is no single creative process.  There are as many processes as there are people.  Each of us has a unique way of making what we make.  The creative process is as wildly creative as creativity itself.

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In this post:

Kim Werker, book, ‘Make It Might Ugly:  Exercises and Advice for Getting Creative Even When It Ain’t Pretty’, Sasquatch Books, 2014.  http://www.kimwerker.com/  Thank you, Kim, for sharing your book and your creativity.