You Are Not Creative Pt. 2

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With the rise of my blogging career (you're free to laugh at that), I've come to realize that there's little I want to discuss which does not involve creativity. It's surprisingly complicated and misunderstood. I think that's why most people either a.) give up on their dreams when they involve being creative or b.) never consider themselves "creatives" in the first place. My husband is in the latter group. 

The concept as a whole seems draped in this fake fog, which I blame the entire industry for. Just like how successful people don't like discussing their failures (thus making their road out to be easy), creatives don't like being honest about the real process of creating. We like shiny things. We like people thinking that every inch of our brain is made up of nothing but beauty and inspiration.

But you want to know the dirty secret? 

It's nothing like that.

Almost everyone I've explained my creative process to has acted shocked. Like it's a surprise that I don't pump out songs with every intense wave of emotion I feel, right in the moment I feel it, with tears in my eyes and swells in my heart, as every word rolls off my tongue like honey. 

No.

(And no, not every creative can live in the city, no matter how much they want to, because cities are expensive and art is under appreciated.)

It's more like I walk around with a notebook for months, read books and highlight anything that hits me, and sit down by myself one night, praying to God I can create anything that doesn't make me turn my nose up. 

And yes, this process has gotten easier over the years. But only because of one very important thing that nobody wants to admit:

Creativity is a muscle, and you have to exercise it. 

You have to write 100 songs, sift through them, and come out the other side with only 2 worth exploring further.

You have to fill 5 notebooks with thoughts and emotions and completely disregard them if you're lucky enough for inspiration to strike. 

Because just like you can't wait to be motivated to do work, you can't wait for "inspiration" to create. Inspiration is a fickle, passionate lover. And if we know anything about those kinds of lovers, it's that they're unreliable. 

And if we wait, we get stale. We get cold, depressed, and no longer feel as deeply as we did. Because humans are supposed to create without motivation, and some of us are acutely aware of that. We've seen parents and friends settle into lives and jobs they never wanted in the first place, and we use that as our inspiration, because we know that no matter how bad the stale moments get, it's sure as hell better than the alternative. 

The moments you slam your head against your keyboard, not able to find a single word in the wasteland that is your brain? Worth it.

The spiel you've pieced together over the last three holidays to explain to family members "what you do with your time"? Worth it. 

Every cold, winter night you've driven home from a photoshoot, gig, or coffee shop (where all you can afford is the small coffee), with only $20 to show for your time, and are so exhausted you can't even cry? Worth it.  

The moment you're on the floor, surrounded by papers, with nothing to show for your 3 hours of songwriting? ...Worth it. (I have to convince myself of this one sometimes.)

So no, we are not professional creatives because we have a God-ordained gift that is only given to the chose ones. We are professional creatives because we've had the stamina to push through the bad moments, when others gave up.

If I could give you one piece of advice, it's this:

Don't rely on inspiration, it'll fail you ever time. Rely on your human need, it will always be there.

Feeding The Crazy //Columbus > Atlanta//

If I have learned anything over my (nearly) 21 years of life, it's that the best way to stay sane, is to not fight the crazy. Everyone has some extent of crazy in their minds and the human race is obsessed with surprising it.

But me? I feed it. 

Welcome to my world. A world where weeks of emotional crisis don't mean staying home, but day trips, loud music, and exploring places you probably shouldn't be. 

(Un)Lucky for me, I live in Atlanta, my best friend lives in Columbus. So when the crazies come crashing in, or I have weeks of confusion and doubt, there is nothing better than a long, mindless drive to my best friend and her cats. 

I usually listen to whatever gets me through traffic on the way there, but my drive back is a sacred time with a history of great ideas and entire songs being written. This is the soundtrack I have accumulated over the last year of this ritual. And yes yes, I know that the entire thing sandwiches most of The 1975's albums, but it just isn't a Columbus drive without their brutally honest lyrics. 

I challenge you to feed the crazy a bit in the coming weeks. Pick a destination about two hours away, go explore, and drive back after dark with this playlist playing. It's amazing how much clarity you can gain. 

 

Playlist:

COLUMBUS > ATLANTA

You Are Not Creative

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About two weeks ago on a Tuesday I reconnected with a very old friend. After all the hugs and squeals were over with and the obvious questions were asked, (“How are you?” “How was your trip?” “How on earth do you use this parking meter?” …A lot of how’s.) It wasn’t lost on us how different our lives were from our last meeting. In the span of two years we had both gotten married, and she had moved states and had a baby.

I guess she had gone through more changes than me, but whatever.

A little background: She and I were born on the same day of the same year, and basically mirror versions of each other, if one side of said mirror was extraverted and the other painfully introverted. I don’t believe in astrology, but if did our situation would be a goldmine.

So as we shot photos and gabbed about various life changes we came across the topic of creativity inside of marriage, her with her photography and me with music and writing.

 

 Highlights of shoot

Highlights of shoot

I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but at some point in my young life I started believing marriage would destroy creativity. This point was only ever enforced with the things said around me. You see writers and musicians project this belief daily. I actually have a distinct memory of my sister and brother-in-law saying they weren’t the same creatively after they got married. And as a proud creative myself, there is nothing that will make me run faster. Who could really blame me for pledging myself to a marriage-free life after such a lovely sentiment?  

So the question to myself was: Why? Why did the expectation even exist in the first place? You hear a lot of things about marriage, and I’ve actually found most of them to be true, but true of the most unenlightened, unmotivated, begrudged take. So where was the grimy root of this?

When I was single, it was myself against the world. I could say whatever I wanted, about whomever I wanted, no matter what that feeling was. And the freedom was that I could put it in whatever format I wanted. I could write the ultimate love song, or I could say screw you in as many or as few words as I wanted.

But now I am not single, and it is no longer just myself against the world. It’s myself, my husband, and my two ferrets against the world. Now I don’t just speak for myself, I speak for my family. I am rightfully more careful with both my pen and my tongue.

But is that how it’s supposed to be?

I have always believed and preached on individuality in relationships (even friendships), so seeing myself mesh into the guarded-tongue housewife mold, I have to ask myself if it’s best for myself and my love, or just easier? And by guarding your spouse from your artistic expression are you actually doing them a disservice? Keeping them from seeing the raw emotion and opinions of who you are, and masquerading it as “being kind”?

Since that conversation I’ve stepped back into my choice of expression, and closer into my relationships. I have felt like myself for the first time in over two years and it has been better and sweeter than anything else. Books have once again become the best company, and Seth is even cuter than before (if that’s possible).

Here is the bare truth: If your only muse is rotating romantic partners, you aren’t creative; you’re emotional and unsatisfied. Until you can look past your relationships and into stories, nature, and experiences, you are not creative.

So no, marriage does not cause you to loose creativity, but it does push you to be brave and find it in other places.

Where do you find yours?

 

My Hopes.

     Today I woke up feeling more loved and appreciated than I ever have before. There's a strong sense of peace within me, knowing I'm right where I'm supposed to be, doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. The support from yesterday has even spilled into today and is continuing to make me smile. I am forever regretful to both the friends and strangers who have shown me such love.

While I am in this elated state, I will tell you my hopes for this next year.

My hopes for...

Paper Shores.

For me, it's an old song about being called to greater things and breaking promises I swore I'd keep. For you, I hope it brings you back to a time when you finally felt one door close and another open. I hope it ushers in closure and clarity in those areas, if you haven't gained that already.

My hopes for...

Theadora.

I'm not going to play modest and pretend I don't have high hopes for the upcoming year. In addition to planning on playing live shows again, I will continue to record and develop my sound. I hope to bring more of the euphoria and dreaminess you hear in Paper Shores through electronic element. But my biggest goal is to get back on stage and use my performance skills again.

And with that I'll continue my day, knowing that I'm not settling, and that there are beautiful people in this world worth sharing my art with.