The Creativity Danger Zone
Creativity can be dangerous. It is fraught with anxiety, peril, isolation, displacement, boredom, dread, pain, and damnation. At the same time, the desire to create things seems to come from a joyful place. It’s the joy we experience when we accomplish the goal of finishing our work. Of course, there is the happiness we experience during the process. Then where’s the danger in undertaking a creative endeavor? Setting out on a creative journey is dangerous in that it’s a lot like exploring the bottom of an ocean.
Be a Witch
Witchcraft is a good metaphor for the creative process; it’s rooted in an ancient and arcane art. So, let’s imagine that you are a witch and you can breath under water; after all, this is an article about creativity. What do you think you would find? There would probably be pollution: garbage and waste of all sorts. What does the bottom of the ocean smell like? Is this a smell you can live with? On the surface, there would be enormous boats passing by: tankers and cruise ships. Drunken tourists toss bottles of beer or martinis at you from the luxury deck (remember, you’re a witch and, alas, after all of these years, you are still being persecuted). Suddenly, the ocean reveals itself as a not-so-friendly place. Will someone rescue you?
“Any publication is an act, and that act exposes one to the passions of an age that forgives nothing.” — Albert Camus
Just as you are about to abandon this hostile place, you pause. None of these things really bother you. In fact, you welcome them. You begin to explore and ask questions. You play with the fish and the wildlife of the sea. If a large fish tries to eat you, you make it go away. If rude tourists throw things at you, you can collect them and put them into a magic satchel; maybe you will use them for a spell one day. When the current gets rough, you brace yourself for the ride.
Abandon All Hope
A curious thing happens when you give up any hope of rescue: you begin to notice all of the things around you in much greater detail. They become part of your world. You’ve just given yourself a lot more scope and your field of vision has grown larger. Now, you have choices to make. The decisions you make become the blueprint for your project. How you make those decisions depends on your personality as an artist, your style, if you will. At some point, you miraculously find your way back to the surface and examine the bulk of your journey. You’ve learned a bit.
When you begin your creative project:
- Dive deep
- Accept danger as part of the process
- Be a witch: transform the raw materials of your journey
- Abandon the ship: get off the luxury deck and into the water
- Take a hard look at everything around you
- Cultivate joy and accomplish your goals
Sinking to the bottom of the ocean is probably the best thing that can happen to you when you work on your project. If you are not seeing the danger in what you do, look a little harder beneath the surface of the water. Your creative project can be like walking into a construction zone; if it’s not, don’t worry, danger will find you. The more you do it, the less terrible it seems to be. You might even cultivate a certain amount of relaxation when undertaking a project. You can grow and you haven’t even used a single magic spell to do it.