Learning How to Breathe in Creativity

I’ve come to learn that I’m impatient…. And, I’m sure God thinks that’s important somehow, but I happen to despise that particular trait about me. Take this quick story for example:

While teaching myself Photoshop one night, I became engrossed in a particular piece about Jim Morrison, from a tutorial where I was learning how to use layer masks. It was rather time consuming, and as the evening settled, my parents decided to have a family evening at Conan’s Pizza. I happen to not be a fan of Conan’s, and I wasn’t in the mood to deal with family issues, so I procrastinated pressing Ctrl+S because I’d much rather do graphic design than “hang” with my family. I finally decided to save my work and walk away from it, more or less because my parents knew where the off-switch was.

I realized much later that I had let my passion become priority in my life, instead of my family and the relationships I was learning to heal. I had become so consumed in my work that it had taken precedence over literally everything in my life. While I told myself that I was simply in a creative mode and wanted to express my creativity in the piece, I was secretly feeling like my life depended on my finishing this piece.

Until this point, I was consumed with quantity, rather than quality. I felt like because I was 16, I had to prove that I could learn as much as I could as fast as possible, and I became what most would call a replicator. I was turning out duplicates of the tutorials I was using to learn the program faster than most would fathom possible. I considered this an important quality, as in the workforce, at least what I knew about the workforce, was that quantity was the most important, and quality would eventually come with time and practice. With the benefit of hindsight, I noticed most of my work until this point is missing something, almost like it was missing talent.

I thought if I had to go to dinner with my family, the least I could do was still be productive, so I thought about my piece for the first 15 minutes or so. Eventually, my large and lively family got the better of me and we began to laugh and talk about life in general. My previously “stuck-up” attitude about life and productivity made me believe that I absolutely needed to think about work, and anything else was frivolous and unimportant. However, God didn’t make me to act like that, in fact, I’m pretty sure if Jesus was standing next to me for that period of time, he would have (politely and lovingly, I’m sure) dropkicked me to next week.  Instead, He used this time to give me a break from my thoughts and clear my head, which unbelievably, allowed for the most creative thoughts to come to my head. After a rather funny(but seemingly irrelevant joke which would be classified in the “you had to be there” category), I took a deep breath and suddenly, I realized how to make my piece unique. A completely irrelevant topic and in a completely new setting, I found creativity. When I arrived back home, I added what I needed and made the piece my most creative(and favorite) to that point.

Juvenile as it may seem, I learned that creativity cannot and will not be forced. We are not made to create on command, and my biggest fear in working in the creative world is still that need will take precedence over desire. We cannot be creative because someone needs our creativity, we can only be creative when we clear everything from our routines and take a step back. It’s not about demand, it’s about doing what we were created to do: create. There isn’t a secret formula to becoming creative, and it’s only when we surrender all of ourselves to God that we find ourselves doing things creatively. Creativity is the artistic problem-solving. We look beyond ourselves and focus on who we belong to, and then we discover the art in creativity.

I have found in order to be the most creative, you need to take breaks from your work, even if it’s multitasking to read Stephen Brewster’s blog for a few minutes and then returning. It’s an elementary idea, but turning your mind away from the task at hand makes the task at hand much simpler. Many will criticize the generation that multitasks, but I applaud it. If you can find a way to creatively focus on many things at once, it allows you to find creative solutions more easily. If Googling for 10 minutes makes your mind as active as being at a party, then use that activity to see others’ creative solutions. Doing this will allow you to piece together a creative solution for your current task, and thus productivity increases.

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