In this issue ~~
We adults are too serious. As we grow up, we're taught to give up "this foolishness" and get responsible. But being responsible doesn't mean you can't be harmlessly silly at times. A little silliness, at appropriate times and places, can be good for the soul and help your creative juices flow.
A few weeks ago, I was determined to go ice skating in Central Park one Friday. It turned out to be the first hot day of the season, and the rink, although skatable, was covered with puddles. While we adults were carefully skirting around the puddles, the kids were deliberately falling into them. They came out soaked, but what a great time they were having!
Back in my acting days, my theatrical friends and I used to play some theatre games that are great for stimulating the imagination and a lot of fun. One is based on an old method acting technique called "endowment." You take an object and pretend to use it as something else. For example, a lightbulb can become a pen, a cigarette, a telescope, a spoon, a doorknob, a baseball, etc. An ashtray can become a hat, a frisbee, a rice bowl, or a compass. Some of the ideas you come up with may be pushing credibility, but the point is to stretch your imagination as much as you can.
Another fun game is storytelling. You can do this with as few as two people, although the more the merrier. One person starts a story with a few sentences and abruptly stops, perhaps even in mid-sentence. The next person takes over the story and adds a few more sentences, passing it on to each subsequent person. The story may take a lot of bizarre turns and get very silly, but it's a great exercise for imagination and thinking on your feet. The important thing is to just keep it going and not worry about making sense. This can be a great game for a party or a writers' group.
People who are creative tend to be creative in many areas, and stretching creativity in one area can enhance the others. So why not join a community theatre group or take an improvisation class. Sing in the shower. Get some crayons and a sketch pad and go to it; post the results on your refrigerator. Doodle. Write limericks. Tell bad jokes. Get in your kid's sandbox. Play a sport whether you're good at it or not. March through puddles and splash around. Write your name (or something else) in fogged-over windows. Do things that make you laugh.
It's hard to create when you keep yourself in a box of acceptability. Allowing yourself to be a little foolish, even if you do it privately, can help you to give yourself permission to let your imagination loose in your work and in your life. (And you can always edit later!)
One of the biggest bugaboos in being creative is the thought or belief that you're not good enough. As you do your work, you have that nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach that whatever you do just isn't going to cut the mustard. Experience doesn't matter, nor do credentials. You simply aren't good enough and neither is anything you do.
If we all waited until we were perfect or knew everything before we put our ideas out into the world, nothing would ever happen. If Edison had been afraid to fail, you might be reading this by candlelight. Humanity would be deprived of that and numerous other beneficial ideas and products.
When I was in school, I wasn't particularly good at writing or art, so I never pursued either one. Years later, as an adult, I consulted with a psychic who told me I should be writing. I thought she was out of her mind, but decided to give it a try anyway. Although I wasn't one of those people who *has* to write, I disciplined myself to practice and managed to knock out a few pieces. Nothing special, but I got through them. I still didn't know why the psychic told me to write.
A couple of years later, I got my first Macintosh computer. The thing I loved most about it was the drawing capabilities (this was back in the pre-Windows days of the dull C prompt). Although I wasn't very good at it, it was fun to create little drawings and print them out on my Imagewriter. By making changes pixel by pixel, I could compensate for my lack of freehand drawing ability.
While playing with the drawing program, I came up with a cute little character that I liked. As the character developed, along with two little friends, I created a story about them and more drawings. I even used picture fonts and adapted them to create what I wanted. In time, Alpha, Beta & Gamma was printed in several small magazines and newspapers. A few years later, I started a publishing company and, with additional pictures, my story became a book. Although I'm neither Hemingway nor Rembrandt, there are people who enjoyed and benefited from my creation.
You are enough -- good enough, smart enough, knowledgeable enough, attractive enough, have enough. You don't have to be perfect or have it all. Who and what you are now is enough to create something that matters, that will benefit someone. At the very least, it will be a wonderful outlet for your soul and spirit. And who knows where it will lead you.
There's a saying in the Bible about hiding your light under a bushel basket. We are all lights in this world, and it takes all of our light to make it shine as brightly as it can. Listen to your friendly neighborhood psychic -- or better yet, to yourself -- and trust that if you're drawn to create, there's a reason for it. You are enough!
Do something childlike to unleash your creativity. Borrow your kid's Legos and build something. Get some clay or dig around in the dirt. Build a sand castle. Fly a kite.
"People want to know why I do this, why I write such gross stuff. I like to tell them I have the heart of a small boy -- and I keep it in a jar on my desk."
"When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap."
(click on the book graphic to see a description at Amazon.com)
The Confidence Course:
Seven Steps to Self-Fulfillment . . . Walter Anderson
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