the MIRREN LEE

The 2012 Act Three Journey of an Actress/Coach/Writer.

Day 38 Creative Voids

Posted by themirrenlee on 07/02/2012

Creative voids.

That’s what people get when they’re not able to express the creative part of themselves that feeds their souls. I believe every single person in the world has the creativity lobe – the part of their brain that needs to express itself through some form of creativity.

It could be doing absolutely anything. Some find a sense of creative fulfilment through cooking, others from doing some sort of craft work, some work on cars, and others find it in the different branches of the arts. You’d think that last one would be obvious, but I’ve run many creativity workshops, and it was very interesting when people would discover that they weren’t really creatively satisfied by acting, for instance, but would rather be making quilts (true case)!

Creativity is expressed in endless ways, yet so many people don’t think of what they do as creative. I’ve often heard someone say, “Oh, I’m not very creative,” as I admire the sweater they just knitted! Often people discount their creative achievements because they are so easy for them to do. What they don’t realize is that this just means they have a natural talent for it. Talent is something we have no control over. We’re either born with it or we’re not. If we don’t have a natural talent for something, however, it doesn’t mean we can’t do it. It just means we’ll have to work a bit harder, sometimes a lot harder, at it than the person for whom it comes so easily. (Ironically, the ones with the talent often don’t want to creatively express themselves with it the way that the ones without the talent really, really want to!)

Expressing ourselves creatively makes us feel tremendously happy – satisfied, contented, and filled with a great sense of achievement. It’s better than a drug!

It’s no wonder then that if we can’t express ourselves creatively in the way that we need, we get out of sorts; we feel flat, unfulfilled, and if it goes on long enough we can find ourselves fighting a great sense of depression.

Creativity is not high on the list of people’s priorities – I’m pretty sure spectator sports, for instance, are considered far more important. They think of creativity as a kind of luxury, something that “artistic” people do.

But that’s because they don’t realize what creativity is – the act of doing something, anything, in a way that puts their own personal imprint on it. This is of crucial importance to a person’s sense of identity and feeling of achievements in life. And being a wonderfully creative parent is just as important (and valid) as being a wonderfully creative ballerina.

Our brain has two sides: the left and the right. The left is the side that’s rational, linear, practical, safe, analytical, reality based and uses logic.

The right side is intuitive, creative, imaginative, spontaneous, risk taking, lateral thinking and uses feeling.

Some expressions of creativity use more of the right side, some more of the left, and most use both. I also teach Memory Techniques, and it’s interesting to note that anything that makes you use both sides of your brain will also improve your memory. So creativity serves an important function as a “brain improver”!

The ones that use both include anything to do with music (almost perfect: mathematics based but creatively interpreted), puzzles like crosswords/Sudoku/jigsaws, word games like Scrabble/Boggle/Pictionary, or card games (especially all types of poker), along with photography, renovating anything from houses to cars, cooking, or even playing sports. If you think about it, you’ll see that while it takes the left brain to do anything requiring “logic”, it takes the right brain to see that logic applied creatively. The test question I use for left/right brain creativity is: can a set of rules be applied to it, while the person doing the activity supplies the personally creative aspect of it?

Right brain only creativity is usually expressed in forms where the person doing it makes up the rules: acting (surprisingly true – no matter how many “rules” are laid down by the various teaching methods, at the end of the day the creativity involved is simply actors following their instincts), abstract painting, interpretive dancing, writing free form poetry or anything that breaks the rules of traditional writing (as when e.e. cummings decided to write only in lower case letters) or craft projects such as collaging.

Left brain only creativity is almost an oxymoron, as it involves things like exploring math, linguistics, anything to do with a love of word exploration, and science based creative projects (although they often need the right brain as well). The more rigid the rules of the creative project are, the less “wiggle room” there is for your own creative input.

Some analysts like to say that reading is a left brain activity, but I disagree. As an avid reader, I know that I am following the “rules” of reading the words, but my right brain is working very hard conjuring up the images that the words create, which obviously means I’m using both sides.

Some of your creative interests may be hobbies, and some you’d like to get paid for, if you’re not already. Pretty much any creative expression can make money, if approached from a financial point of view. That’s when the definition of bliss makes sense: find out what you love to do, then make a living at it!

And now we’ve come full circle to the opposite of being creatively fulfilled: feeling a creative void. I’ve experienced both, at times being involved in so many creative streams – and even getting paid for most of them! – that I was in a permanent state of contented happiness. But I’ve also gone through dry periods, where what I was doing didn’t match what I wanted, needed, to be doing. It caused me what I call “soul pain”. The Catholics, in fact, have a saying coined by St. Augustine called “The Dark Night of the Soul”. That’s what it feels like.

The big reason for my new Journey this year, and the start of this blog, is that my life had gotten off kilter and needed to return to a more creative balance. It’s so easy to for us to wander off the path we really want to be on, as our lives are overtaken by circumstances. Maybe it’s money issues, or family commitments, or it “just happens” when we’re not paying attention! Before we know it, we look around at what we’re doing and realize it’s just not how we want to be living.

It can be hard to get back on track, but of course it IS possible. You’ll need to make Commitments (Goals) to whatever creative pursuits you want in your life, and then make detailed Plans to achieve them. (The capital letters are because they’re the title of posts I’ve already written on these subjects.) It’s as simple, and as incredibly difficult, as losing weight by eating less and exercising more!

If you find for some reason that you can’t follow the exact creative path you need, then use your right brain to think laterally about how you can approach it from a different angle. That’s why actors often turn to writing their own projects, and then starring in them!

I’m blogging about this because a good friend of mine is struggling with her own creative issues. The gift she gave me is the idea for writing about this tonight. The gift I’d like to give back is to say, “Hang on, you’ll be on the right creative path soon, and your soul will find the light again.”

To one of the most creatively gifted people I know: this one’s for you, Tracey.

I’m just creatin’ …

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