Friday, January 24, 2014

On Creativity: How Does It Feel...

So, I've got questions for you, fellow creative types (I'm working on a little project.) When you are creative/when you make art, how does it feel? What sensations or emotions register as you create art? When you make art, do you feel more present or less present? What kind of a mental space do you envision (if any)? What, if anything, is consistent about the emotional space from which you create? Thanks for any thoughts you choose to share.

Also, orange you glad it's almost the weekend? 


  1. This may sound odd, but it's a lot like being asleep, for me. I go into a creative space that resembles lucid dreaming, and I get so focused on it that I won't stop to eat or pee or anything until I'm finished. It's definitely a different mindspace, and it's the time when I feel most deeply contented and engaged. Editing I can do any time, but the actual creating is its own special thing.

    Weirdly, my dog somehow knows when I start a poem. I don't know if my breathing changes, or if he knows the pen being uncapped and the page opened means mom will be unavailable for a while, but he has taken to asking to go out every time I start a poem. It bugs the hell out of me, but the only way to make him stop is to let him out and then get back to it. If I shut him out of the room I get the guilts and can't write.

  2. This is not weird at all. I very much relate to that sleepy thing (it sometimes feels like I'm falling asleep while writing)'s what made me start this project about process. I am so happy you commented about this!!

    So funny about the dog!! My cats come over, but they always want to sit on my lap while I'm on the computer :). Maybe he senses your mood (or your attention being shifted away from him :) ).

    Thank you for your thoughts here!

  3. For me it's the opposite.. I feel like I'm in a heightened state of "awakeness" and awareness when I'm creative, especially when it's going well. My senses are more alert, my physical body feels more engaged, and I feel like I'm operating with maximum efficiency... no wasted energy.

    But while I'm trying to get to that state, I feel constantly distracted by any number of things (I need another cup of coffee; I forgot to pay that bill; my dog needs to go outside; shouldn't I vacuum the living room?), and it takes tremendous effort to focus so the heightened awareness can come.

    Does that make sense? Good luck with your "little project!"

    1. That makes complete sense, Elaine. And what a clear description! Huh--when I am writing prose, I feel more engaged and quick-thinking (although not to the degree you described). I feel excitement and ideas coming and going (but I don't feel as in my body, I don't think). In any writing (creative project of my own...not true of some things I write, like assignment instructions or promotional materials), I almost always feel some degree of spacey-ness...

      Distractions are interesting, too. I feel them (especially with online work)....but I feel like I'm unfocusing to forget them (like relaxing your eyes to see a Magic Eye image).

      (I'm creating a presentation on this and it is so helpful to hear others' thoughts...thank you!)

  4. Hannah,

    When I'm writing something that feels like a keeper, creativity has shape and movement; it is tangible, and I feel exhilaration and energy. I call this creative high being in the "zing" of writing.

    But the zing is fleeting, and even while in that space I know it is rare and precious.

  5. Hannah,
    I'm hesitant to add my two cents on how creativity feels to me -- because it may make me seem crazy. Nonetheless, here I go. When I get in the zone where words flow onto the page, I feel like some part of me is floating above the keyboard watching. It's a wonderfully elusive sensation, and the smallest interruption instantly snaps me out of it. You know that quote from the movie Chariots of Fire? "When I run, I feel [God's] pleasure." This phenomenon I've described is like a sliver of a glimpse of the runner's experience.
    I love your daily poems -- thanks for doing what you do.
    : )

  6. What interesting questions. When writing, I feel a constant low level hum, a banked excitement that I never look at head on. The closest physical sensation is riding a bicycle ---I'm always a little surprised that I remember how, but while riding I never want to think too hard about what I'm doing, in case thinking about it makes me fall off. While writing, I feel much less present in the room, in my body--here and gone at the same time. One fascinating thing I've noticed in recent months is how quickly and consistently I can drop into that creative space---I began writing a daily poem a little over a year ago, as a way to get creative even when I can't manage something big and unwieldy, like a novel. The poems aren't great, but great poetry wasn't the goal. The goal was to write every day, keep a creative spark lit. And it works. Most days, a poem appears and I slip into that bike riding, less present space and write. Over time, the habit sends off little sparks of stories and drawings and other bits of creativity. When I'm done, I land back in myself, awake and happy that it worked again, like a magic trick.
    Thank for asking. I love your daily poems.


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