26/08/2018

ideas...and how to catch them

(from a series "musing with mates").
What if ideas are just floating around in the air like Terry Pratchett suggests, waiting for a receptive mind to provide a conduit - an earth? When I was very young, I imagined babies as little souls, floating around over the earth waiting for parents to call them down and come and be born. That they watched, hopeful, in the skies when potential parents began to speak about starting a family, nudging one another - "you'll be next". This is what you get for teaching obscure tenets of Catholicism to children too young to understand...Similarly, what if ideas, like energy, like static before a storm, bursting to discharge, were hopefully seeking a receptive mind...like a hyperintelligent alien, having travelled millions of miles through vaccuuous space, and seeking someone to whom it could pass its momentous message from another galaxy...How to become such a mind...is there an artists' tinfoil hat or antenna? a drug as Carlos believed? a head tattoo, a magic sign like a crop circle which will attract them?
Or maybe, as Richard suggests, the creative mind is a muscle like any other which needs training, regular exercise, and a warm-up before getting up to speed. A warm-up like a series of bad, weak ideas you toy with and discard. Or a knockabout, a conversation with a friend, batting idea-ettes back and forth but neither trying to score a point... Or a blog... 
Do your scales, run through the exercises and get ready to Be Creative.

Like a visit to the gym, a visit to Being Creative needs some preparation. Empty your head. Transfer those things it is full of to paper, or sort them out - and they are gone. Drive them out with tiredness from a long walk, with the excruciating boredom of a staff meeting, with astonishment at some fabulous thing seen or heard that you can immerse yourself in, beside which the boring little idea of worrying about the leaking roof, remembering the laundry or caring why whatshername never posts on your facebook anymore will wither in embarrassment and shuffle off to a sleepless sunday night. Play with a ball of wool, a cat, or the garden.

Dress suitably. Comfortable clothes that will not restrict the free movement of ideas. Desperately chic vintage weirdness. Pyjamas. Your brother's old seacadet jumper which is too tight and unravelling at the cuffs. Does it help, if you look and feel like An Artist? Or just provide a handy excuse for days when the ideas don't seem to come..?

Always carry a pencil, a pen, paper; something to occupy your hands, something which provides sensory feedback - the sound of graphite scratching on paper, the vibration from the drawing action travelling up your arm. If you are chosen by an idea, if you spot one passing by, if you sense one bubbling up from some corner of your mind, write it down. Draw it. Doodle, expand, experiment...shamelessly. Ignore the CCTV, ignore everything...

Immediately, the idea will begin to evolve, to morph, to develop an attitude...it will decide who or what it wants to become. There will need to be a period of negotiation, which may be long-drawn-out and fruitful; your work may become a true collaboration between yourself and the idea... Like the characters in a novel you might try to write, the ideas will refine their personalities ; they will become confident and more assertive and eventually undermine your illusion of control. Help them to satisfying conclusion, to a narrative integrity, to a beautiful or a meaningful or an ecstatic expression. Help them communicate themselves and then, if you love them, let them go.

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