Article Inspired By Workshop with Nick Makoha: “Don’t Despise The Creative Process”

5 Mar

Frustration can be like a garbage truck pouring out 2 week old stench unto your work. It’s hard to get any work done.

The way we wind ourselves up as creative people all stems from the voices inside our head. Friday’s workshop with Nick Makoha made me see that we have this creative, “good” voice which tells you the sky is no limit, only art to paint and stuff like that. Whilst it’s arch enemy is the more sinister, “bad” voice which tells you every thing you produce is utter trite, so please continue to beat yourself up or even better just give up! With these voices floating about, maybe it’s no wonder creative people scientifically have a higher risk of having a mental illness. But I am not trying to scare you, so please read on…

Many artists struggle, especially in the beginning when they think these two voices are the same and completely infallible at any given moment. So a person goes back and forth, acting on both of these voices at a whim hence causing a lot of confusion with their work and it’s purpose. Well, now I believe there is a place for both voices but only in the right context.

In the beginning at the start of the creative process. That “bad” voice will get you into trouble, making you give up before you have even started. We don’t want that. We want to give ourselves freedom to move, breathe, express and feel and let it all out, like our disorganised bedrooms. We love all the stuff in there because it is ours and we know where everything is but maybe others may not be able to appreciate the personal mess you have created in your own bedroom. Maybe they would ask you kindly (or unkindly) to clean it up.

And that is where we our “bad” voice or even other “bad” voices come in. It may tell you things that hurt and make you upset, but if you can get past defensiveness then maybe you can look at criticism for what it really is… free help to make your piece even better. Awesome! Doesn’t seem so bad any more does it? We create lots of messy stuff like children and then we use this “bad” adult voice to refine it’s potential and clean up.

This is the painful process of editing.

When has tidying your room ever been a bad thing that has caused you harm??? No it’s a positive thing, that’s helpful in making you feel happier and more fulfilled. So this “bad” voice, that is necessary to edit and improve your piece, wants to be turned into a sigh of satisfaction and into a pat on the back that says, “Well done mate, you did well.” This can only happen when you view this “bad” voice in a constructive way, listen and then put in all the necessary work.

Yes, you have to be inspired many times to be creative, but a wise person told me that you need to get to the stage where you are internally creating your own inspiration. It is all about taking control of the creative process and making it work for you. Be the kindest and the harshest person to yourself but in the right context. Then you will see creativity flowing from every source and beyond.

Lastly, it is important not to feel ashamed of your creative process as the negative voice will try to creep in from the start and tell you to hide the piece, throw it away and get as far away from it as possibly because it is rubbish!!! But we don’t throw away a new born baby as soon as it is born do we? No, we allow the baby to grow even if they are not fulfilling their life purpose yet, instead we continue to nurture it and have faith that one day it will.

I have tried to apply this principle I learnt on Friday to my poetry, by documenting the same poem in the embarrassing early stages and to a more refined (yet, possibly unfinished but I am more happy with) stage.

2nd Edit

I have done this to help myself get over the approval of needing to be perceived as good writer at all times which will only enhance my early stages of creative work. Also I have done this as well so maybe someone who has never considered writing poetry may look at my early piece and think it is possible for them to write something as well, instead of looking at the more developed piece and think it is beyond them, which it is definitely not. We all thought it might of been beyond us at some stage.

This article was inspired by a Mouthy Poet workshop with Nick Makoha (@NickMakoha)

“Creativity is playing. A child’s mind in an adult’s body.” Sacha Wise

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