image by olaerik
For the last few weeks I have been in creative hibernation mode. I didn't blog. I was hardly on social media. Some of you may have wondered what I have been up to - and for those of you who care, I'm about to share.
Every so often my creative muse strikes me exceptionally hard and I'm compelled to listen to its call. I was recently given an opportunity to direct a musical here in Portland, Oregon. We're doing Seussical, which I love. On top of that, I recently premiered my one-man show, Mormon Redneck Thespian. It received a couple of good reviews, and mostly sold out, which I'm thrilled about. So, you see, things are going rather well for me from a creative perspective.
But why should you care? Good question. Let me tell you.
Follow Your Instincts
The Gurus and Experts will all tell you that you should blog regularly. You should email often. You should even Tweet daily and Facebook all of the time. But sometimes, that's just not true. Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all. There is all sorts of interesting research that shows that creativity sometimes needs room to breathe. It needs silence and a dark place to ruminate. Sometimes the collector or the audience just doesn't get to see the finished product until it's actually done - and it's better that way.
When I was in college I learned that Greek priests used to come on stage before a play and bless the stage, invoking the Gods' blessing. The Greeks believed (or, at least Plato did) that there was an invisible form that corresponded to the physical; that priests and artists had the ability to make that invisible form manifest.
This ability to make the invisible manifest is what I think of as creativity in its purest form. What some people see as an act of conjuration is simply the artist having the ability to see the invisible object or hear the silent word.
If an artist is constantly distracted and annoyed by social media, or email, or the need to answer phone calls, what happens? Many artists continue to function on a superficial level. They create things because their technique is good. They have a style. They're working on a series. It's become rote and easy.
But what about when you're creating something truly new to yourself? What is that masterpiece that has been sitting inside of you for years? That thing that you occasionally get a glimpse of, but which you never quite make manifest? Perhaps you think, "Oh, I have no idea how I would even do that" or "that's too expensive to do" or "nobody will like that."
If you have that thing inside of you, perhaps you need to take the time to unplug, power down, and go off grid for a while. Perhaps your creative energy needs to go away from blog posts and tweets, and into making the unseen seen. Someone is probably waiting to see what you create - wouldn't it be a shame to never bring it out?
Why Listen to Me?
Sometimes I am amazed at the number of artists who read this blog. I don't consider myself the world's foremost authority. I know a few things about art and internet marketing, but a number of artists seem to think that what I write here is valuable, and I'm grateful for that. It's a gratifying experience, and I'm truly humbled by the artists who write me and thank me for the help. It's fun see artists start to make a real living from their art.
Sometimes I think - hey, don't listen to me. You know some pretty amazing stuff about your own art, about the people who buy your art, and how to communicate your story. Go listen to yourself! I think the artists who listen to what I, or any of the gurus, say and then go create their own way forward are the ones who seem to succeed the most.
You can learn about websites and about how to sell art online here - but I hope that if you do learn something at The Abundant Artist, I hope you learn that art is your unique selling point, your creativity is your unfair advantage, and that you have the ability to make your passion into something that is more than just a humdrum existence.
You can be successful, powerful, daring, and dangerous. You can be an artist that people RAVE about. You can be an artist that people emulate. But it starts with believing that you have within you the ability to succeed. Once you have that, all of the other stuff falls into place.
So, gratefully, I have my show. It's one of those pieces that's been a long time coming. I'm really excited about it. I'll share more of it in the near future when I get the recording back.
What Is Calling You?
So, in the mean time, what is your muse calling you to do? What is the thing that keeps pressing on you? How are you going to make it happen?