Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stress and Creativity Part 2

Last week, I started a discussion on handling stress and how it affects one's creativity.  This week, I'm going to share other stress reduction strategies that worked for me.

First, I have routines. Now, when I was a teenager, I thought that routines were for Muggles. I didn't need no stinkin' routine. One of the cool things about being an artist in my little pea brain was that you set your own schedule. You did not punch a time clock or work nine to five. As an artist, you could work at three in the morning if you so desired. As a teenaged artist, I was quite the idealist. I grew up. I matured. I got a life. The truth is an artist needs discipline and structure. Now, I have a schedule. My schedule is flexible. It's not a rigid Muggle kind of schedule where I catch the same subway every morning. (Actually, I think I am thousands of miles from a subway,) Anyway, I have learned that there is a great advantage in have structure to my day. In particular, I have routines. Every morning, I begin my day with coffee and morning pages and every evening, I close the day by feeding the birds, washing whatever dishes are in the sink and making the coffee for the next morning. These are my "bookends." With these in place, I am better prepared to handle whatever falls in the middle.    

Then I tried to keep things in perspective. Is this the worst that will ever happen to me? No. As stressful as life seemed at times, I would remind myself of that and move on. I even developed a really hokey way to assess my situation. Say, for example, in another fifty or sixty years, when my brilliance and genius is finally recognized by the world (and I'm dead, of course) would these past few weeks merit a sentence, a paragraph a chapter or a Part, like Part III The Texas Years in my biography? Would my biographer, a fresh faced young gal from some ivy covered New England college, even know that September and October 2011 were stressful? Possibly, but unless she planned a really boring 1000 page tome, these few weeks would barely rate a sentence if at all. That's what I mean by keeping it in perspective. 

So to manage stress as a creative person, I keep things in perspective, have routines, recognize when not to start new projects and accept help when offered. Finally, there's a fifth thing, use stress as inspiration. I just did. 

How do you juggle stress and your creativity?         

Monday, November 21, 2011

Stress and Creativity

The last two, three months have been most stressful for me. Now, stress for a creative person is a necessary part of the creative process. Really, would you want to read a novel by someone who has had a fairy-tale life and never had stress? How would she impart the tension to her characters that would make us want to turn the page?

But sometimes, stress, which is also called life can seem overwhelming. Looking back over the last weeks, I realize that I used several strategies that helped make life manageable. So I'll share them with you. 

First, someone I barely know offered to do something very generous for me. I said yes. I didn't think oh, that's too much to ask or how can I pay her back or I don't know her well enough. She would not have offered if it was too much. Somethings I learned long ago can never be paid back to the people who give them to me but I can pass on the goodness. And I know, too, that this woman, at the time, needed to do something herself and there was something she could do for me. So it wasn't all about me.         

Another thing I did was recognize my limitations. I advanced to the rear. Times of stress are not the times to begin the Great American Novel or the ten foot sculpture or the twenty by ten foot canvas. Times of stress are for reading instead of writing, cleaning brushes instead of painting, taking inventory instead of buying. So I took the pressure off myself to create. Now that I look about my studio, I can appreciate all that I have done in the last few weeks. I've accomplished more than I thought myself capable of under the circumstances. 

I'll share two other strategies for dealing with stress and creativity next week. For now, how do you deal with stress? 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!