It is important to get past our mental voice of self-censorship. Each of us has a series of voices in our heads. One such voice, we can call the “watcher at the gates of the mind”. The Watcher is the voice that judges our choices, desires and impulses and, when listened to and obeyed, can lead to inaction and inertia. The Watcher says, “That is so silly”. “Everyone is looking at you”. “You aren’t doing that right”. “You are not good enough”, etc. It is vital that we push this voice of self-censorship down and, instead, listen to another voice within our heads–that of our stream of creative impulses. This second voice is a life-affirming voice and says, “Do this. Do this. Do this”.
Our goal in creating something new is to develop momentum. Once we develop some momentum, we are in the field of action and are, consequently, much more likely to continue actively creating.
If you could create anything, what would it be?
This question is at once liberating and terrifying. It is liberating in that you can create anything you want and it is terrifying in that there is so much possibility, so much potential, that were do you start?
A blank canvas, for many, is terribly intimidating. The American theatre direction Anne Bogart describes creativity as a violent act. It is violent, in that you must make a choice and by making choices, possibility begins to become limited. This said, we can always change our direction of choices. We can always change from the structure we first begin with.
If you are struggling with a blank canvas, allow yourself to have the courage to “jump off of the proverbial cliff” and just “vomit it all out”. Let all impulses land on the page, not censoring yourself one bit. Try to not give thought to whether anyone will ever see what we are writing, whether what we are writing or creating is socially acceptable, dark or light, good or bad. Instead, vomit it all out.
Vomiting is not a gentle act. To vomit is to purge. We can sort through what we have purged later, to perceive if there is something of use or potentially valuable for creating with. But first, we must get it out.
In order to create something new, what previously existed must first change or break. The blank canvas must be covered with paint. To start a new relationship, perhaps an old one must die. In order for a tree to grow, the seed must first crack and give way to the potential of the plant. Again, here we see a violent act. Want an omelet, you have to crack some eggs.
Most artists can identify with hesitancy, procrastination and self-sabotage. These are all products of an unwillingness to commit and further leads to inertia. The hardest part of the creative process is to start. But once we start, we have begun our journey and as we have heard from Lao Tzu, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”.
Don’t wander around the task at hand, forever circling it, but not daring to go inside of it. Go into the inner part of the circle. Immerse yourself in your act of creating. Jump off the cliff. Vomit it all out.
Jim Hart is the founder of The International Theatre Academy Norway and Austin Conservatory of Professional Arts.