The Percolation of Creativity: A Purpose to Restlessness
Before we launch into talking about creativity and growth and learning and all the wonderful, joyful things that come with creation, let’s take a step back to ponder where that creative energy comes from.
Unfortunately, this answer is different for everyone; there is no singular well from which we all draw inspiration, nor a treasure map to lead us to the mecca of creativity, or a divine entity that is shared universally as the be all, end all creative- breathing life and energy into our souls. I know some creatives describe that perfect moment of inspiration as a stillness that descends, a daydream that takes hold and refuses to let go. My own experience is not quite so peaceful.
Creativity, in my world, is restlessness. Maybe this comes from dance being one of my earliest forays into creativity, but that energy comes in the form of movement. Now, the movement I’m talking about is nothing as graceful as dance, more of a fidgeting - the bouncing of my knee, tapping of my toe, drumming of the fingers, the feeling that I need to move in some way. It’s why I have a theory about the link between physical activity and creativity.
Creativity, in my world, is RESTLESSNESS
I find the concept of restlessness interesting as an intersection of need and expulsion. It is a way of indicating that there is something we feel we must do, a stirring of something wither without or within that has engaged our senses, but sits just under the surface of true awareness. Restlessness, I believe, is an instinctual response to stimulation; a way our bodies become aware before our conscious minds can connect all the dots and let logic take over - in short, it is the original factory of imagination and creative energy. It is the need to explore, but we may not be able to stretch our wings and fly, to soar above the clouds and see the world, but we can traverse the caverns and terrain of our own selves.
Back to the matter at hand; restlessness. Sometimes it begins smaller than a fidget; sometimes it begins as a flutter in my chest, a drop of the stomach. It manifests as a feeling of intense joy bubbling its way to the surface - the need to create, to do something becomes overwhelming, and when ignored or stifled comes out through movement as an expulsion of that energy working through my body. Even the classic sedentary forms of creation, writing for example, require the movement of the hand at the very least.
If I sit with that restlessness long enough, ideation begins to take place. My mind recognizes restlessness as an unfulfilled need - the need to create - and it begins to search for the reason why. Why do I feel unfulfilled in his moment? How can I realize this need? Perhaps I was listening to a new song that grabbed my attention, or maybe it was the way the light came in through the window that made me envision a scene for a novel.
During this phase I let the ideas flow until I circle back to one that catches my eye. I take that idea and sit with it, maybe I continue watching t.v, or cleaning the kitchen or pacing the floor, but I allow the idea to rattle around my brain until it begins to develop. I could be in this stage for days before doing anything with it or it could be something as ordinary as having a hankering for cupcakes that drives me to pace the kitchen and begin to make them myself; a guided act of creation.
Now I create. I write notes to myself - in detail or vague musings; move around marking steps, physically begin making something. It may begin as an outline, headings, sketches, numbering exercises for a workout program or doodling, but I begin to allow the creative energy to do what it must; make something.
For as long as there is restlessness in my body and spirit I will know the joy of creating
Not every idea may be worth pursuing to fruition, but by engaging with the idea I can better understand what it is I want to accomplish. If that means I leave one idea to hop to the next in search of it, I do so. One such example is my passion project; a novel I have been writing and re-working and editing, and outlining and changing for ten years now. This project has led me to write more, write differently and explore the evolution of creativity in real time. It is the restlessness that never ceases, and I hope it will continue to endure. For as long as there is restlessness in my body and spirit I will know the joy of creating, even and most especially when, it is not perfect.
Let me know what creativity feels like for you - drop a note in the comments or head over the forum section where a discussion thread is waiting for you!