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What exactly is creative lightening? If you’ve ever experienced it, you know how it feels. You have a NEED to create and it can’t be quelled. If you haven’t felt it and it sounds unfamiliar, it’s probably because you just didn’t recognize the form it takes in you. I’m a firm believer that every single person includes the quality of creativity. I’ve seen it hit my daughter when she’s hungry after a long, arduous run. She opens the refrigerator door and you can almost see HER version of creative lightening strike. She looks, her mind is working and then BAM! Suddenly, she’s off and running. She doesn’t just grab what’s in front of her, she’s able to creatively create a snack or meal that 1. is healthy for a runner 2. tastes great, and 3. looks beautiful. It’s beautiful, in its’ own way.
I’ve seen people in my classes have it hit them in the form of color, pattern, details. I definitely know when it hits me. The thing is, you can’t order it up when your conscious thought needs it; it usually strikes when your thought is calm and open to unhampered ideas. Too much thinking can slow the flow. More times than not, the simplest and easiest ideas are the ones that exceed all conscious expectations. Nothing stops the flow like conscious trying.
Often, in the midst of a creative firestorm, I’ve let my conscious thinking do too much bossing around and my whole flow stops. Self-doubt is the ultimate buzz kill for creative flow. It’s a cruel and tenacious saboteur of the creative process. So how does one manage their thinking when their livelihood depends upon creating something others are willing to pay for, whether it be art, furniture, a book, a script, a song, whatever? The old and familiar ‘writer’s block’ is the universally unwelcome little scamp who quietly creeps into the back door of creative thought.
Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how thoughts take you here and there, yank you to and fro. It’s exhausting to stay aware of, and fend off useless thoughts that look large, but like fear, are simply illusions once you confront them and unplug the power they seem to have over you. That’s no easy feat while in a mental wrestling match, but during a more peaceful state of mind it’s easy to see how fear only usurps its’ power from thinking that’s allowed to run amuck.
For instance, if you’ve got an idea for a piece of fabric you want to create and you gather up all of the materials you need, and then in the process you let your guard down. This might FEEL like it’s a good thing to let your creativity run wild. But that wide open mental permissiveness can take a bad turn and suddenly your idea and focus has faded into the background while that little imp, self doubt, has crept into and nestled into your thought. It can show up in thought as the voice of reason that suggests where the problems are, what might go wrong, how many other people have already done what you’re doing. Eventually, you look at your gathered materials, and you’ve let that strike of creative lightening be bullied away by what we refer to is logical thinking. Personally, I think that’s a misnomer. It seems more logical to let the creative lightening have its’ way, but people need a word to describe the opposite of creativity, so logical, it is.
You may wonder what my point is here. It’s this—in order to succeed at anything where nagging self-doubt, anxiety, outside negativity, or just plain loss of steam try to hijack your innate and valuable creative talents, you must learn how to discipline and manage your thoughts. It helps me to visualize someone hopping on a horse and hanging on for dear life with no bridle or harness, or, carefully taking the time to fashion a bridle so that you can have control over that wild, free, and exhilarating ride, and also be able to end up at your desired destination.