Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nourishing Your Creative Soul, Or How to Avoid Becoming a Crack Fiend

Often times we can get caught up in doing what we have to do, whether that's pay the bills, or cook dinner, or go to work.  We have outside obligations, rent to pay, etc. etc.  However, as artists, sometimes you get a sudden wave of inspiration, or maybe you've just been putting off creating for too long, and every fiber of your being screams "Create!"

In these cases, unless it's not totally dire (and really, how bad will it be to take an hour off before doing the laundry?) you need to take care of your inner artist and make something.  If you don't nourish your artistic soul, you may find that you'll end up like a crack junkie.  How?  Let us explain.

Scientific studies have shown that if people have a finite amount of mental capacity (we'll call it 'brain juice.')  When you're working on memorizing the alphabet backwards, you're using up brain juice.  When you're doing a calculus problem, or trying to draw a 2-foot straight line freehand, or are trying to juggle ten different client accounts and write five urgent emails, you're using up brain juice.  You only really have so much, so when you're super mentally exhausted (ie, running low on brain juice), you don't have any brain juice to make good decisions.

Still with us? Heavy mental strain = bad decisions.  Cool.  We'll get to the crack addiction in a minute.

So when you feel that urge to create, and you don't listen to it, you're really spending brain juice to fight that primal instinct you have to do what you love to do.  Of course you'd rather be creating that making spreadsheets.  Of course you'd rather paint than write all those emails, or practice your trumpet rather than file all those receipts.  So when you fight down the urge to do something creative in deference for some other task, you're using up twice the brain juice.  Not only are you using the brain juice to do the task, but you're also fighting down your inner spirit that's trying to make something awesome.

If you're out of brain juice because you're trying not to create, then you could very well make some terrible decisions.  What if you're finalizing that cost-benefit analysis when you really wanted to work on that novel and then a co-worker asks you to a bar after work, and then you go and get drunk, then someone offers you crack and you try it, and then you get addicted and end up losing everything and living on the street addicted to crack?  What would you do then?  Well, you'd be doing crack, but besides that?  Nothing, that's what, so if you want to avoid becoming a crack fiend, then nourish that creative soul!

"But Monkey + Seal, what do I do?" you might ask, "I really have to file my taxes, I can't just stop and write my novel, the IRS will take away my house and I'll still end up addicted to crack!"  Well friends, we're not advocating you to drop everything forever.

We all understand that you have obligations.  Everyone does.  We do, so do you.  However, when your inner artist is screaming to create and you won't let it, you're doing yourself a serious disservice.  You see, when you desperately want to paint, or sing, or write, or dance, you don't have to do it full force.  If you're looking to write a novel, maybe take a 10-minute coffee break at your desk, writing out some dialogue. Or if you're looking to produce a mammoth of a graphic novel, start slow and maybe sketch out the layout for a page while you're at lunch.

The trick here is to give yourself little bits of the good stuff.  Ideally, you could just stop and sit down and make your magic happen (because remember, what you do IS magic), but the reality of it is that most of us can't do that.  So feed your inner artist little art snacks here and there, and you'll find that you'll feel much more rested, happy, and you'll feel less guilt about not creating as well.

Ideally you can even schedule times to create so that your inner artist will never feel so totally deprived that your brain shuts down and you start doing illicit narcotics.  By taking a few hours out of the week in order to make sure that you're still creating, you can plant the seeds that will grow into a more productive, creative, crack-free life.