Introduction

Note: this page is part of the Cliffjump! Manifesto. If you’ve arrived from an external link, and haven’t read the previous parts of the book, you might want to start at the beginning

introduction

photo credit: Powderruns *

Creativity fascinates me. It is the focus of my life, the thread of my narrative.

Creative people are a profound mystery to me, despite the fact that I have been told all my life that I am one. On good days I suppose I am (at least, on good days I manage to get some creative work done, which is not exactly the same thing), but this doesn’t diminish the magic of it one bit. Creativity is a small miracle that happens every day, all over the world, and this document aims to help you get in on the fun – or do so in a deeper, more empowered manner.

I have spent my life in pursuit of creativity, and I’ve also spent a lot of time around other people who are on the same quest. I’ve watched myself and others wrestle with the process, frustrated by its unpredictability and with the futility of trying to control it. I don’t believe it has to be this way. I think we can do better.

This is not just about getting you creatively ‘unstuck’, though that is a noble goal and hopefully, a positive side-effect. This is not just about presenting techniques or tricks to get the creative juices flowing, though we’ll certainly look into a few of those along the way. This is not even ‘just’ about digging deep into our fears and creative blocks and finding ways to transcend them, though we’ll be doing a lot of that too…

I want to offer you what I believe to be a set of keys (not necessarily the only set) to a better way of creating: a healthier, more empowering model of what creativity is; a more fulfilling and joyous, less angst-ridden and self-destructive way to create. A way with soul and purpose that can be applied in every aspect of your life – not just your creative work, whatever that may be. In fact, as you go down this path it will gradually make less and less sense to try to separate the two. Your innate creative energy will be deeply embedded in every aspect of your life, inextricably entwined with every decision, every act.

Fair warning: this is likely to involve some potentially uncomfortable and possibly even painful self-examination; certainly it has for me, but the results have made it more than worthwhile. Remember the old saying about making an omelette and breaking eggs – nothing good comes without some sacrifice.

Will this make you more money? Probably not, at least not directly… although we will be investigating some of the psychology that inhibits creative people from successfully marketing or promoting their work, and pointing the way towards a healthier mindset about it. But that’s not my main goal here; others have covered that ground, and I’ll link to some of their work in the Resources section later on.

Will it make you happier? Well, I can only speak for myself – the model of creativity I am presenting here has made my creative life more satisfying and enriching than I ever thought possible. It lets me truly enjoy my own creative work, and the work of others, without jealousy and cruel self-judgment. It has given me the tools to tame self-doubt, silence the inner critic that sabotages our creative work before we’ve even finished it (or even worse, before we begin).

Completely? Permanently? No. I am human, I slip, I lose focus like everyone else and old habits creep back in. I do not promise that the model I propose here is infallible, or that it will in and of itself permanently erase these tendencies that are so much a part of our human condition.

However, the method offers a structure to fall back on, a way to reset and get started again when the wheels get stuck in the mud. It provides a framework for seeing these doubts and fears for what they are, for assessing the case made by the voices of self-criticism against a more encouraging, supportive set of messages, so we can choose the course that seems most promising. I know which one that has generally been for me.

Of course, it is perfectly possible to be creative when motivated by fear, by competition, by the desire for attention, fame or fortune or by the drive to make one’s mark on the world before we die. Indeed, there have been countless highly creative people through the ages who were and are motivated by these things…

However, I believe that over the long term, they tend to make us unhappy and unfulfilled – always chasing impossible goals, never satisfied with what we’ve accomplished. I know that way quite well, and my experience has been that it’s really not all it’s cracked up to be.

And at the end of the day, I believe there is a better way, a way more joyful, more rewarding, more ‘spiritual’ if you will… I believe this, or rather I know it, because I have followed this path for years. Like many things in life, it gets easier, and better, with practice. This book, and the larger discussion and community I hope it fosters, is my way of sharing it with you.

continue with How is Creativity like jumping off a cliff?


* used (with much appreciation!) according to a Creative Commons license:
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0