The Making of a Creative Life

By December 3, 2009 culture, language No Comments

Breath for the Bones Book Club: Thoughts on Chapter 10

Are artists made or born?

My opinion is that they are born, for children are naturally creative, taking risks by following their ideas without thought of the end result. In Breath for the Bones chapter 10 (“Cultivating Creativity”), Luci Shaw says, “Everybody is born with the ability to create in one form or the other” (138).

Creativity is in us. Sometimes it just gets covered over and stuffed down and squelched. It is our responsibility—our gift of thanks to our Creator—to nurture and cultivate it, to mimic the creative heart of the One who created us. This is no easy work.

Shaw quotes Stephen Spender: “Everything in poetry is work except inspiration.” I believe this is also true of writing as a whole (and all art)—inspiration comes as a flicker, a spark. It is small, bright against my darkened mind; it is a mere spark that must be tended to if it would grow up into a roaring flame.

That stoking is the work of time, thought, research, writing, scrapping, rewriting. And creativity is the accelerant required to take an idea to its full potential.

But how does one become more creative? How do we nurture what lies dormant inside? Shaw shares from her own life how creativity is bolstered. As I marked each of these inputs in my book, a listing emerged, almost like a recipe, an ingredient list. These inputs, these ingredients make for a more creative life:

1) Acknowledge the Gift
“There are no short-cuts to becoming good at one’s craft. Where to begin? First of all, with a sense that you have a gift, an understanding for words, a feeling for rhythm in language.” (140)

2) Read Aloud
“Reading aloud and hearing language in its most dynamic form . . . fed something in us that quickened the imagination.” (140)

3) Write, and Write, and Write
“You learn to write by writing. . . . it’s one of those gifts you can’t develop without doing it.” (140–141)

4) Follow the Burning Spark
“There has to be something that springs from within you that burns in you and wants to be alive, and expressed.” (141)

5) Read in Your Artistic Field
“Always watching for new trends, new techniques, different poetic styles, experimentation.” (141)

6) Work with What You Love
“We grow, too, by affirming our loves through craft. Much of my work is centered in natural creation.” (141)

7) Respond to the World Through Your Craft
“My writing is a connection with the world, my response to the world around me.” (142)

8) Friendship with Other Artists
“Formed with others who share a conviction of faith and a dedication to artistic process.” (143)

9) Uninterrupted Solitude
“The benefits of meditation, silence, and aloneness—of listening to the Spirit in these ways—are new discoveries for me.” (143–144)

10) Community
“In church and outside of it, Communion and community bond. Each small slice of life becomes sacramental as we acknowledge our humanity and pray together for God to be made flesh in us.” (145)

So tell me—do you find these riches flowing into your life? Do you have all the ingredients to cultivate creativity? I must admit: several of these are sorely lacking, and my creative life suffers. Adjustments are in order . . . seems like some good things to think through as the New Year approaches!

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Meet the Club! Read Other Breath for the Bones Chapter 10 Posts
Queenie at Rancho Ruperto

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