I can list several indictors as proof of this post’s importance: I’ve been drafting it in my head for days, and then in a Word document (as opposed to straight into the WordPress dashboard), which I’ve kept revisiting, sitting down and looking over these words.
Towards the end of last year, and I’ve touched on this a little on the blog from time to time, a hard truth became apparent: I wasn’t writing and, therefore, I wasn’t happy. It simply boiled down to that. I did my nanowrimo-of-sorts as an experiment to test if I had lost the mettle or drive it takes to craft a piece – something which, in this fast world of blogging and its tantalising (if occasionally dangerous!) immediacy, can be easy to forget is necessary. It’s like going to the gym after an absence, stepping up to some free weights you used lift and struggle with these, realising you’ve lost muscle tone. You might not be starting over from scratch, but there’s some catching up to do.
It was during this time when, at the library, while writing, I would select from the CD racks a new CD to listen to every day. I did this here at my local library, and while I was up at NYWF, too. I thought rather than sook to myself that I need to listen to more artists and music than what I am normally exposed to (sad, but I listen to a 90s digital radio channel most of the time), then I should do something to change that around. Proper albums, too, when I could find them, not just compilations or ‘Best ofs’. It’s a better way to get to know an artist, I’d argue. High and lows, range, etc.
I listened to Amanda Palmer, Regina Spektor, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Panic at the Disco, Fleetwood Mac and lots more. Not only did I enjoy the exercise (and I didn’t like all my choices), but I wondered what impact it was having on my creativity, because it was doing something. Maybe it was distracting my overbearing superego, or placating my anxiety like a lullaby. And the words came.
I thought if I could do this for music, I could do the same for movies (after all, I am doing a 1001 movie challenge). This pairing of productivity/consumption could be good for me. A nice balance. I’m the first to admit I watch too much television when I’m depressed or down – the culture of ‘binge watching’ has a deeper significance I don’t think is often addressed in the media – and so I’ve made a resolution to keep a balance. Do the work, and only then treat myself. By not doing the work, I’m cheating. And how can I get better at writing if I’m cheating at it?
There are a lot of writers who have quit blogging or social media, either temporarily or permanently, in a deliberate effort to improve their craft. I can’t do this, but understand the reasoning behind it.
So this is my solution:
The Year of Creative Engagement (#yoce) will be my attempt to document my creative journey, put greater stock in accountability and output, while also showing what new work I’m reading or listening to. My monthly book reports already feature here on the blog, and this exercise will also appear on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. These will be hashtagged #yoce
I’ve already begun this journey, for I’ve been participating in the Month of Poetry project, posting micro poems every day this month on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #mop14. Whether I can continue this throughout the whole year is unlikely, but I’ll try do to some here and there. My plan is to also attend more literary or cultural launches and gatherings (lucky for me, Melbourne is full of them; unlucky for me, I live so far out of the city).
Most of all, for me, creativity is about play, exploration, comprehension and embracing imperfection while in search for an artistic end or goal. It’s the lure of the computer keyboard, or the need to pick up a pencil. It’s why we makes notes in the margins of novels. It’s why we blog, make jokes and sing.
If you’re endeavouring to be more productive this year, more engaged creatively, if you’re getting up early, or staying up late, to write a novel or a screenplay, draw, anything, please let me know. Let’s band together.
If you have music recommendations, I want to hear them.
Tell me your definition of ‘creativity’. How important is it in your life? What are you doing to help fulfil your potential?