Discard What You Don’t Need.

This is an easy piece of advice to agree with.

Until we open a drawer, or look in a cupboard, or try and find a file on our computers.

There are lots of reasons and theories about how and why we accumulate so much stuff and our parents, spouses or partners, and professionals, telling us to cut down or not buy more to begin with.

The same can be said about our creativity.

We accumulate.

We accumulate attitudes, ideas, ways of doing, which over time can leave us in a mess.

Every now and then we may have a tidy up but how many times do we discard.

The writer Stephen King was stern in his advice to ‘kill your darlings’ – those characters, paragraphs, ideas, which are you need to discard.

It is difficult to determine what we don’t need.

Creatively, surely the more skills and techniques we have the better we become?

Yes and no.

The more skills we have the more versatile we can be, but they can also lock us into a particular way of doing things which maybe limiting.

In art, think of how differing brush strokes created whole new movements such as the Impressionists

In music, think of how discarding notes from a chord helped to produce the deeper and heavier tones of Rock/Metal.

But what do we discard?

Discard whatever is holding you back.

Creatively experiment by removing things.

If, as a writer, you spend ages writing descriptive passages because you find them difficult, then discard them. Be simple and straight to the point. Your reader will help by filling in the gaps.

If, as an artist, you struggle to draw faces then don’t draw them. Most fashion designers don’t. Go further and don’t draw the bodies either.

Discarding isn’t always about getting rid of something.

It is about making space where you can choose to bring something new in.

Replace lines for dots, chords for individual notes. A human character for a non-human character.

And remember you can discard your thoughts.

You don’t need to remind yourself of what you can’t do.

Discard.

Remind yourself of what you can do.

Discard.

Having expectations and an overall aim are widely believed to be useful for success.

Some suggest that to be truly successful you have to break everything down into stages and specific blocks of thought and action.

Many people do achieve what they set out to using this style of methodology.

Sometimes, however, we are not clear or honest enough in our criteria.

I want to paint a cathedral is perhaps only part of our thinking, and maybe it should read I want to paint a cathedral just like Monet did.

When the image doesn’t look like we wanted it to, then we feel a sense of disappointment and doubt our abilities as a creative.

This type of thinking can affect every creative no matter what the medium.

So what can we do?

Discard.

Search through those drawers and cupboards of expectations, find them out hidden at the very back, and recycle them, or if they are plain broken then take a trip to the skip.

Discard what is not useful or helpful, no matter how long we have held onto it.

When we approach any creative endeavour we need to know the direction of our journey, but let go of the way markers we think we must count before arriving at the destination.

Like a pilgrimage, the Way should alter us.

The experience, spiritual and physical, of the journey will effect and influence us, and this will be seen in our creativity.

Monet was changed by the light. He realised that it couldn’t be captured in one painting, so he chased it. across a number of canvases, switching from one to another as the light moved.

Monet started out painting a cathedral. He finished painting light, which happened to have a cathedral in it.

Imagine if the French painter had only produced one canvas of the building in the way he thought it should look originally?

Discard your assumptions and expectations, and learn from the process, tools, and the materials you are using, how the image should finally look.

Like home and business experts advise us, take time each month to declutter and discard (or recycle) our things and our environment.

As a creative person, a major part of this should be our expectations in the realising of our final pieces.

Creative Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the new mantra covering a lot of areas from simple meditation to a mental health checklist.

Some meditation and mindfulness techniques exhort you to think of ‘nothing’.

Hit the eco-setting, dim the screen, go to a blank screen rather than screensaver.

If you are a creative then this is probably impossible.

If you have managed it, I would argue that it may not benefit you.

Being creative is who you are and not a menu-setting.

Imagine asking a dancer not to move their body whilst you play a piece of music – they would probably cause you of being cruel.

Whether you are a writer, musician, or artist, you are tuned to be creative.

It is how you respond to your environment. It is how you communicate. It is you.

So, rather than emptying your mind, sit for a short period and reflect upon your creativity.

What are you happy about in your output? What are you finding difficult? What are you being drawn to which is new?

Afterwards, write down the strongest thought which came to you.

Pursue it.

Be creative with it.

Create.

DAY 414 – The Saturday Answer and Other Stuff.

So The Friday Question was, What is the one immediate thing you need to do for your creative endeavour to improve?

And The Saturday Answer is, Be Consistent!

What was your answer?

For me, I need greater consistency in my writing habits and in the words which go down on the page. Creative thinking time and writing time can vary too much for consistent output. Sometimes I focus too much on the dialogue and other times I focus too much on the narration and descriptive details.

The Other Stuff:

With news the The Long Way Up had begun, I started back through the first instalment of Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman going a very long way on motorbikes with The Long Way Round. London to New York – about 20,000 miles – what a trip.

Lots of folk music listened to this week – Imar, Julie Fowlis, Breabach, Talisk, and Calan, mostly.

By some miracle Wigan Warriors have moved up from joint bottom of the table to 4th in Super League. What’s also incredible is that only four of the twelve teams are in positive points difference.

After his Glastonbury Headlining performance most young people would probably vote for Stormzy to be the next Prime Minister of the UK.

I finished an Audiobook on The Irish Identity from The Great Course series – very informative!

I’ve started reading The Outrun by Amy Liptrot.

Day 100 – Silencing the Inner Critic.

If you are creative, then you have an inner critic.

If you are not creative, then you definitely have an inner critic.

Exactly what that inner critic says and how it makes you feel, is different for every one of us.

Check out this edition of the Chase Jarvis Live Podcast with Danielle Krysa, on how Your Inner Critic Is A Big Jerk.

What Danielle says will have you nodding your head and saying ‘that sounds familiar’, and she gives some great tips on how to deal with your ‘Tim’ or ‘Elaine’.

There is a lot in this podcast to take away, but two key points, based on her interviews with artists and other creatives, for me were:

  1. DEDICATION – Creatives make every day.
  2. TIME – Creatives give space and time to create everyday.

Enjoy the podcast and Silence that inner critic!