Sunday, September 16, 2007

creative overload

First off, let me preface this monologue by saying I feel truly blessed to be doing what I do. There is absolutely, without a doubt, no career or hobby I would rather have. HOWEVER, lately I've been wondering if there such a thing as too much creativity?I had an interesting conversation last night with my friend Kristie about creative energy. She was asking me if I experienced creative lulls in which I found it difficult to work. My answer, of course, was "YES!...all the time." In fact, more and more (take this particular drawing for instance) I feel I am forcing myself to be creative even at moments when I don't have to be, which, in turn, leads to creative burn-out. My teaching job requires that I use my brain to help my students become better designers. My freelance career mandates that I always try to think of innovative solutions to design challenges and, on top of that, my favorite hobby, drawing, asks me once again exercise creative muscle. Is it all too much?

Kristie and I recently started taking a pottery class. At first I thought this would be a great thing for me. I've had hardly any experience throwing clay and therefore I thought it would invigorate me to do something art related where I wasn't expecting to achieve particular results. However, despite how much I like messing around with clay and spending time with my friend (yes Kristie...this is true), I find myself anxious about attending class rather than looking forward to it. I'm feeling as though I have a limited amount of creativity and I need to be turning off its valve rather than keeping it on.

Hmmm...I wonder what you all think... Is it possible to do what one loves too much? Any suggestions for me?


Max said...

My zen master said one should not make things too nice, for he could start thinking "Me!..." :)

Megan said...

I think we share a similar problem: the thing we love most is both our job and hour hobbie - our passion. It's hard to see the reason to stop doing your passion.

Until of course, we are completely burnt out.

My advice is to find the other things that give you a lot of joy and make you just want to sigh with satisfaction. For me that's painting (because it's not my job), reading, movie watching, walking outside, or even lounging on the bed doing nothing.

I'm sure if you thought about it there are other things that you really enjoy that aren't necessarily creative expressions. Going out for coffee with friends. Walking the dog. Reading a good book.

I don't think you can have too many creative outlets - I just think you need to balance the outgoing energy with incoming. So, if you are going to do pottery class then you also need to do something that fills you back up. KWIM?

This ends the lecture of the pot calling the kettle black :).

Joan Y said...

Megan said it all ... needing to balance the outgoing energy with incoming. I only discovered this recently myself. So, if I don't post any art for a week ... it's because I'm watching some really bad television with a really good beer in my hand.

Knitting Painter Woman said...

I think some creative people develop a sort of ADD: too many ideas, too many changes of direction and not enough focus-- and for me, not enough rest-- REAL rest as in SLEEP or watching clouds.
Is it possible you have a stripe of perfectionism? When I can trust that who I am is enough (and OK) I can work AND play and all goes well. When I NEED to do "well" (or better) everything turns to ... well, you know.
How about you just explore the clay and how it allows different solutions than your other media...
Self-promotion warning: I am a life coach and particularly enjoy working with creative people... let me know if you want coaching to get past this obstacle!!

Adolfo said...

Your squetehs is fresh and espontaneos, (like they must be) very good, I have opened new blog single with esquetchs, with the difference that are removed from my monitor or any form, I have not even put myself to copy to the natural one, at least in this opportunity

Cathy (Kate) Johnson said...

I think it's especially difficult when your work is also creative. Everything turns into you just have to stop and allow your spirit time to catch up with you, as an old friend used to say.

m allison r said...

Picasso said that he tried to steal as much as possible. In other a sponge. Absorb some creativity without having to put any of it out.
Take some time to enjoy just being and enjoy the little things that come your way. And the occasional pedicure or massage doesn't hurt :)
And of course, repeat to yourself until you believe it "I am not wasting time right now."
Good luck :)

Lynne said...

For me, creative burnout happens when I am putting too much pressure on myself to be perfect, and not spending enough time simply enjoying the process of creating. Not being my own worst critic is a very hard thing for me -- and probably for you as well... but I would encourage you to try to be gentle with yourself... and do the things that you love to do.

Your creative engine needs some fuel every once in a while... and that can come from all kinds of places. My personal favorite -- watching kids createe... but of course, there are tons of others ... including NAPPING! (Also one of my favorites!). Seriously -- be good to you, and release some of the self-imposed pressure... and all will be well... I promise.

ujwala said...

i remember while working through "the artists way" reading about making deposits in the creativity bank by spending time on your own, looking through magazines, museums etc at images, scribbling thoughts etc. maybe a bit of time away to charge yourself and get that bank balance close to full. the other thing about scribbling, doodling the ideas was to keep a record and tell your brain that it was noted and that you could come back to it another time. you didnt have to action everything immediately. sorry for going on and on but i have similar problems :D

Felicity said...

Suzanne, it seems to me by your wording that although you say you love what you do, none of it is spontanious. You have a job to be creative and a class you must (now you have signed up) attend. I disagree (respectfully) with the comments about perfectionism (for tons of reasons I won't go into) I think it sounds like you need to lead the way (to do what you want) rather than being creative as a result of the job or the class. Haing to be creative must surely impact the creative energy you have left for the stuff that is just fun or comes from a period of introspection and day dreaming.

suzanne said...

Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful, and insightful, comments on this post. Wow, I'm surrounded by some special people!

I believe the key message in all of this is for me is to slow down, think about what I am doing and the reasons why I am doing it. I recognize that a lot of the pressures I feel are self-imposed and this is something I need to work on.

Thank you again.

phthaloblu said...

I can't comment on the creative overload subject because I seem to suffer from the opposite; not enough. I like this drawing, mostly because it reminds me of what I should be doing! :-) Hope you are able to find some balance.