Creativity in the Business of Being an Artist

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I had a wonderful time this fall on my school tour. It always feels so delicious to just be an artist. By that I mean, very specifically, engaging in activities like writing, editing, rehearsing, collaborating and performing. There are no other experiences like it for us writer/performers. There are no experiences that provide such satisfaction and peace. Of course, making art can be full of conflict and high drama, don’t get me wrong! But those of us that stay with it do so because it provides us with a sense of being exactly where we are supposed to be in this world, in this time.

Unfortunately, for most of us artists, we spend far more time doing something that is not our favorite thing: marketing. Looking for jobs, grants, connections, etc. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past couple of weeks: organizing myself around doing a major submission push to theatres around the country.

Today I feel good about it though. I just wrote a synopsis of my show, and it turned out to be a very creative piece. At first, I wrote it as a summary, and I was painfully bored before I even finished it! I wondered how anyone else could be interested if even I wasn’t… then Lady Muse visited.

Creativity isn’t just about creating something new or original. It’s also about synthesis. It’s about how to organize and structure your ideas. Edward de Bono, a master creativity researcher and trainer, put together a 4-part creative thinking process:

1. Focusing – warming up with games to get the creative mind sparking
2. Generating ideas – coming up with new and possibly impractical ideas
3. Capturing ideas – identifying the best ideas that have been generated
4. Implementing ideas – applying the “practical”; organizing and creating structures within which the new ideas can flourish

So you see, creativity is not just a right brain occupation. It involves both originality and organizational skills.

With my synopsis, it meant finding the 3-act structure: What happens in the first “act” or the first 3rd of the play? What happens in the 2nd act? The 3rd act? Once I had the structure, I could let go of summarizing and just tell the story.

Creativity may start off chaotic, but does not remain that way. Creative thinking can lead us to real solutions in our personal and professional lives… and, dare I say, in the world. It does so by encouraging a beautiful synthesis of fresh ideas applied to practical realities.

And the synopsis? I’ll share the final draft of it next week…

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