Since we left New York in January and ventured Into the Woods, we’ve learned quite a bit about the creative process. Each morning it is necessary to renew our commitment to spend the day curating the most ideal creative environment for ourselves – physically, emotionally, spiritually. Depending on the day, this may mean a variety of things:
Physical // Some days we wake up, we drink our coffee, we journal for a while – about our dreams the night before, about our emotional states upon waking, about what we hope to accomplish that day – and then we set off running. Literally. Some days that may be all we do. Run. Those are days when we need extra self-care/tending-to and then the goal becomes to spend as much time outside in the fresh air as possible. Running outside in the fresh air has gotten us through every problem we’ve ever come across, therefore, we do it every day to clear out our brain muscle and make it feel light and fancy.
Spiritual // Other days we coffee, journal, run, and then, after we’ve CJR’d, we spend the rest of the day being social (in person! facebook/twitter/blogspot/instagram/pinterest/etc doesn’t count). Socializing is one of the most important aspects of our creative process, but it’s also one of the parts to which we must tend most carefully. In this way, we consider socializing a spiritual activity and not an emotional one. What do we mean by this? Well, you see, recently, we received some advice. In order to sustain a thriving creative drive, we’re told, the 5 people we spend the most time with must be inspiring, supportive, stimulating, and challenging. All in all they must be people with whom there are no negative dynamics or undercurrents that can distract us or drag us down. This sounds impossible to do, but understanding how to navigate this element of the creative process is similar to understanding the difference between envy and jealousy.
Take this example of two friends: both are on a the same career trajectory, one is at her peak – productive, successful, validated – the other is not at that point yet. Clearly, the one friend would like to be as successful as the other. But before that can happen, she has a choice to make: she can regard her friend’s success, be proud of it, and feel motivated to push herself to that same level – which is a symptom of envy, or she can regard her friend’s success, secretly think her friend does not deserve it, and get grumpy about not having it, which is a symptom of jealousy. Because while envy can be motivational, jealousy is purely toxic. What choice do you make in reaction to the success of the 5 people closest to you? Do you get grumpy when a friend does/gets something awesome that you would also like to be doing/getting? This person is probably not a real friend…therefore this person would not be an ideal candidate for your circle of 5. Your circle of 5 directly affects the quality of the work you put out, and if you have a relationship with someone that is sour and shitty, whom you happen to be spending large amounts of time with (or any amounts, I think) then the quality of your work will turn sour and shitty. Think about it (Also see: The Comparison Game, written by our friend Ana).
Emotional // Some days we completely abandon the CJR/Social Routine. However, the only time it is acceptable for us to abandon a CJR/SR (Although we never abandon the C. Never!) is a day when we wake up and get to work immediately. Ideally our day consists of CJR/SR + WORK, but that is just not always realistic. On work days we take the yummy fruits of all our physical and spiritual efforts and feed them into our creative little bodies and turn their energy into productivity. This is the last step of our creative process, but it is also the most important because without it we’d eventually
lose our will to live be forced to get a 9-5.
Another piece of our creative process which also falls into this category (cos sometimes WORK + THIS THING = same thing) is what we refer to as Spending Time A-LONE or STAL time. The name is really fancy. We’re artists. STAL time is the opposite of stalling, even though to an outside observer it may look like just that. It isn’t (AND it is just as necessary as work time – but wait…they’re ALL necessary – and since it is so hard to come by it is very highly coveted). STAL time is ANY thing you do A-LONE. Do you share a bed with someone? We do. She’s 19 years old and she’s sitting on the bed listening to the Aladdin soundtrack right. now. When she’s at school we like to lay on the bed, take it up entirely, and watch episodes of Nashville for the 90 minutes we have to ourselves. We also like to take 30 minutes to shave our legs in the shower, cos: precision, and we also like to stand with the fridge door open and drink all the Apple Juice out of the jar when no one is home. STAL-time.
The Best Ingredient // The above quote from The Last Unicorn* is how I chose to initiate this discussion about our creative process because for us, the key ingredient to maintaining creative inspiration and output is believing in ourselves, and nothing is more essential to this part of the process than our design partner and #1 in the circle of 5, DUSTspell. If ever there are creative doubts there is always a little sunshine head (now sunset head, cos she died her hair pink) to bounce ideas off and either validate or dissipate any unanswerable questions. This is not to say that everyone needs a design partner; some people are truly better suited for working through their creative processes alone. But around here we definitely need our other half (or even a group of carefully chosen slices). It helps us avoid whatever slumps we may get lost in without someone else to snap us back to reality or give constructive criticism. Like Molly Grue right before Schmendrick turns the Lady Amalthea into a human to save her from the Red Bull, she’s always there reminding us: We have all the power we need if we dare to look for it (See?! She’s the kind of person you’ll want to have in your circle of 5 if you take that advice!!).
Do you have a similar creative process or is it something completely different for you? What things are most essential for you to get through it? Let us know! We’d love to hear about it
*The backdrop for the quote is a Landon Metz painting from his series, Varying Degrees of Absurdity. I picked it because the color palette reminds me of the Lady Amalthea as she is climbing the stairs to King Haggard’s castle, wearing Schmendrick’s blue cape.