Where art thou, Muse, that thou forget’st so long
To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?
Spend’st thou thy fury on some worthless song,
Darkening thy power to lend base subjects light?
Return, forgetful Muse, and straight redeem
In gentle numbers time so idly spent;
Sing to the ear that doth thy lays esteem
And gives thy pen both skill and argument.
Rise, resty Muse, my love’s sweet face survey,
If Time have any wrinkle graven there;
If any, be a satire to decay,
And make Time’s spoils despised every where.
Give my love fame faster than Time wastes life;
So thou prevent’st his scythe and crooked knife
– William Shakespeare (Sonnet C)
Actually the title is a little misleading. The belief that you need creativity to be creative is a myth.
Every single day, I draw. It might be for 15 minute or it might be for 5 hours. But for the last year and half, I’ve rarely missed a day. You might wonder what I do to keep the creative juices flowing, to be able to consistently create art without losing inspiration.
The truth is, I seldom begin with inspiration.
I have a process that works for me. On the days that I feel uncreative or uninspired, I fall into a system — I draw a bird from my bird book. I draw in pen, because that’s my medium of choice. Inevitably, these end up being my favorite drawings. The reason for this is peculiar and hard to quantify, but when I rely less on my own creativity, I’m less concerned about trying to find and listen to that little creative voice in my mind that is telling me how to create. My drawings become instinctive, less thought-out, more expressive. It seems like a paradox, but I am the most creative when I don’t feel creative.
It’s not unknown that inspiration is over-rated but I believe creativity is too. Those of us that work in a creative field know that we have to get to work every day even if the muse is watching TV at home. It works because we all develop a system of just getting down to work. Spending time ‘trying something new,’ or ‘getting out in the woods’ is great when you have the time for it, but instead of trying to find creativity, do what you know how to do. If you’re a writer, just start writing. Write about anything. Keep a list of topics and start with the first one when you don’t know what to say. If you’re a novelist, write. If you’re an artist, paint, or draw or sculpt or do whatever it is that you do. You’ve already created the muscle memories and neurological pathways required to create. You’ve used them hundreds or thousands of times. Rely on them. Trust in them. Just get started and the rest will flow.
Now go do what you do.