Letting Creativity Lead the Way

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It’s Monday morning, and I’m navigating my regular routine despite last week’s heartbreak. Putting one foot in front of the other. Breathing. Forcing a smile when the barista wishes me a nice day.

Aside from the post I wrote about Holly, this is the first time I’ve sat down to write. I have had zero inclination to put words together, to write sentences, to form stories. Zilch.

Which is very much unlike me.

Last week, every time I thought of revising my WiP or writing anything new, I had a visceral resistance. My brain and body said NO. But even as I resisted writing, I found myself longing to create something with my hands. I wanted to paint or dig my fingers into clay or do something tactile. And that prompting was just as visceral as the resistance I had toward writing.

I’ve never experienced that before. I’ve never felt such a physical barrier to writing, or such an intense desire to work with my hands. It’s difficult to explain, and if you’re not a writer or artist, you’re probably shrugging and thinking, “Weird. Whatever.” The experience has caused me to be hyper-aware of who I am as a creative and how that spirit to create moves.

This is starting to sound a bit woo-woo, isn’t it?

On Saturday, I took a glass blowing class. It’s something I’d signed up for months ago. If I’d known the grief I’d be experiencing, there’s no way I’d have registered. But since I’d paid for the class, and it was something on my List of Things To Do Before I Die, I went.

That three-hour workshop was the first time I’d relaxed in days. The first time I’d smiled. Or laughed. First time I’d allowed that creative prompting some freedom and worked with my hands. And the first time I’d felt like myself again.

It’s true what they say about art being restorative, healing.

Now, as I sit to work on my creative writing, I’m wondering about that physical resistance I felt to putting words together in the midst of my sadness. Why the urge to express myself in visual art, but not words?

I don’t have any solid answers, but I do have two ideas floating around in my brain.

The first is that perhaps words and stories are — for me — a direct tap into my emotions. And maybe the resistance was a protective measure to keep me from breaking down and falling into despair.

The second is that words — for me — require a certain work and energy and crafting that visual art doesn’t require. Creating artwork with my hands frees up my mind. When I paint or sculpt, I work quickly without much thought or planning. Just an idea in my mind and then my hands going to work. Perhaps that creative essence knew visual art would give me the emotional/creative release I needed in proportion to the amount of mental energy I had to spend. This is just a guess, though.

I don’t claim to understand it, but I know now to trust those promptings.

So it’s been a live-and-learn time for me. I understand my creative self a little better. I have a better understanding of the importance of both writing and art and how they function in my life.

What I’ve gained most, though, is this awareness of my creative urges. I believe — obviously — that last week’s heartbreak is going to shape who I am as a person, but I also believe it’s going to shape who I am as an artist. And I believe the art I create — both visual and writing — from here on out will be richer, deeper and more authentic as a result.

I hope this self-indulgent sharing of what I’ve learned (and am learning) might help you be more aware of how creativity functions in your life as well.

8 thoughts on “Letting Creativity Lead the Way

    Kimberly Sabatini said:
    December 6, 2010 at 11:46 am

    I understand you completely and I really love you. Wish I could be there to help you feel better. ((((((hugs)))))))

      Amy K. Nichols said:
      December 6, 2010 at 11:53 am

      Love you, too, Kimmie. ((hugs)) I so wish I was going to see you next month.

    Amanda Hoving said:
    December 6, 2010 at 11:52 am

    I believe you’re onto something with your theory of using the hands, frees the mind. Sometimes, it’s easiest to just not think for awhile. And, when we write, we think. So deeply.

    Very sorry for your loss.

      Amy K. Nichols said:
      December 6, 2010 at 11:55 am

      I think you’re right, Amanda, about writing and thinking. It’s more introspective or touches something deeper. I think it’s healing, though, too. In its own way.

      Thank you for reading and for kind words. ❤

    Laurie L Young said:
    December 6, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Nothing self-indulgent about this. I can totally relate to needing to do something that doesn’t require mental energy. I think that is why people take up knitting. When I am the most emotionally depleted seems to be the time I start new design projects—it’s therapeutic. And you made something beautiful!

    Milo James Fowler said:
    December 9, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    “I don’t claim to understand it, but I know now to trust those promptings” — likewise. Great post.

    Lisa Nowak said:
    December 11, 2010 at 9:04 am

    “And I believe the art I create — both visual and writing — from here on out will be richer, deeper and more authentic as a result.”

    I think so to. You just need to go with your gut on things like this.

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