THE GUILT-FREE CREATIVITY WORKOUT
By Katie Anne Mitchell
In talking to our producer, Tim, the other day, I was telling him that one of the biggest challenges in going through the Artist’s Way book was the Artist Date. The Artist Date is a couple hours each week you take to do something that’s interesting, inspiring, or playful to you. The thing is, I’m actually a terrible procrastinator, mostly as a result of anxiety for the things I need to get done. However, when it comes to allowing myself guilt-free time to be creative or to be inspired, it can sometimes feel nearly impossible. It’s hard to think that allotting time to do something which may not produce a concrete product is acceptable. I think that’s why I feel most creative when driving….because, really, I can’t feel guilty–I’m driving, I’m going somewhere and being productive. Got that covered. Check. Guilt-free time to be inspired.
Recently, we at the Art of the Song have had many discussions of ways our online radio streaming program could inspire others and discussed the possibility of trying this out ourselves, taking thirty minutes after listening to an AOTS interview sans technology to allow ourselves the time to create and see what happens. Playing off the idea that creativity begets creativity. Which is why I decided to do a somewhat truncated experiment testing this idea this month. I took a song from one of our Standing “O” artists Claudia Nygaard and experimented with allowing myself the space to be creative after listening. Originally, I had envisioned giving thirty minutes to myself after the song, but given my aforementioned anxiety of allowing myself the time, I tried to weasel my way out and instead of allowing myself the thirty minutes post creative exposure we had originally envisioned, I tried to limit it to the seven minutes of the song. And I did what was easy, I drew. To be fair, I’m historically terrible at drawing but it’s what I felt compelled to do and it was simple, so I did it. It’s not pretty. At all. And that’s ok. But the amazing thing was, because I got this initial expulsion of creative energy and I already ‘failed’ in my initial creation, it opened the floodgates for more experimental creative energy. After the song ended and my drawing sat before me, I suddenly got inspired, and finished writing lyrics to a song I started over the weekend. And they were actually pretty good. Thirty minutes done right there. But was I done? Oh no, that parlayed into tinkering with 3 more songs, and an impromptu serendipitous consultation on a friend’s script approach, and the start of this article—all of which lasted a few hours longer than I had intended. Creativity begets creativity indeed. And, for once I went with it, guilt-free. Timing be damned. And I’m so glad I did.
At Art of the Song our ending tagline is “We all have a song to sing, we hope this program inspires you to sing yours” using ‘song’ as a metaphor for all creative expression. And we believe that, really. This month, we invite you to join in our little experiment. Take a song from one of our Singers and Songwriters on the Standing “O” or an Art of the Song interview and then allow yourself time–30 minutes at least (more if, like me, those muses won’t stop tapping) to create, sans inhibitions and sans judgment. And trust that, good or not, something will be there. I think something’s always there if you allow it in. It’s just a hunch, but I think it’s worth a shot.