Flashes blind you as you step out of the back of your limo. You wave to the press as you walk up to the revolving glass doors of the grand hotel. When you walk into the lobby you blush, semi-modestly, as you see the giant poster portraying your fabulous book cover, beckoning everyone attending your launch party into the swanky bar.
A constant flow of eager viewers slowly file past the stunning paintings you have on display in the gallery. The viewers marvel at your talent, the way you capture light, and the essence that you portray through your paintings.
You smile as you see the eager light in your daughter’s eyes as you hand her the new book – you are her favorite author, of course it helps that you know what she loves. The hours of enjoyment she has gotten from first your children’s stories and now your novels is all the reward and praise you need, and the fact that orders keep pouring in for your books lets you know that other people are reaping the same delight from your writing. That is what keeps you going.
What is your ultimate creative dream? What accolades do you long to have heaped upon you? What dreams prompt you to write (or paint, draw, cook, sew…)?
Do you know what the one single most important component is that you must have to achieve those dreams of success that you hold dear?
The Content in Your Creative Bank
To be able to write, you must live. After all, no matter how good your imagination is, you absolutely must still have some raw material for your imagination to turn into an incredible story. Do you think if Rudyard Kipling had never been to India, that he could have created such imaginative stories as The Jungle Book? I’m sure he never talked with a panther, or ran from dingos himself, but he would have seen the creatures, and would have been intimately familiar with the countryside. And what about Jane Austen? She never could have written her intricate books full of keen societal commentary if she hadn’t observed people at every opportunity she had. You have to imagine, too, that her lack of luck in love helped her create such realistic romantic suspense.
A good writer observes. She (or he) takes in everything around them. And she seeks out new experiences, and new opportunities to observe. All of this observation and all of these experiences are the wealth in your creative bank. This creative wealth, combined with a robust imagination, is what allows you to become an excellent writer.
What Are You Putting Into Your Creative Bank?
Do you invest, money that is? Have you thought about investing? I am sure you have invested, at least once or twice. After all, the purchase of a house is a type of investment – a rather large one – and so is the purchase of a car. Now, you don’t go about these investments in a haphazard manner. I’m sure you think carefully about buying a house or a car, weighing the pros and cons of each options. In the same way, we need to deliberate over what we invest into our creative bank.
Everything around us, everything we put into our minds, is an investment into our creative banks. What we read, what we watch, even the conversations we have will be reflected in our creative output…or lack of creative output. With everything you do, you are educating your creativity. Just like everything a child does, even play, is educating them about the world around them. If you want your child to be empathetic, you will probably make a point to both model empathy and kindness for them as well as expose them to kind and well mannered children – we too must expect to get out of our creativity what we put into it.
So, what do you want your creativity to do for you? Do yo want it to be filled to bursting with exotic scenes, plots heavy with twists and turns, detailed sights and sounds and scents of places? Do you want it to be filled with minute knowledge of human character? Would you like to be able to realistically describe the emotions flitting across a character’s face? Be able to realistically predict how someone would react to a situation? Then you have to make sure you are storing up the details of scenery and people!
You must spend your time watching the faces around you in a crowd, constantly asking yourself, “What are they thinking?” Really listen to your family and your friends and discern what they are saying through body language and expressions, on top of words. Observe by mindfully experiencing every moment. Don’t walk around with your to-do list running through your head all the time. Instead, notice the feel of the floor under your feet. Hear the birds outside your window as you brew coffee. Smell the scent of sage and feel the steam on your face as you check your stew tonight. Feel the play of light across your face as you step out the door into the sunshine on your way to the grocery store. Take the time to notice the details around you and store them up in your creative bank.
What Are You NOT Putting Into Your Creative Bank?
What you are not putting into your creative bank is sometimes just as important as what you ARE putting into it. For example, you wouldn’t give your small child violent media to watch in fear that it will make your child violent. It’s just the same with our creativity. Lets say I’m exhausted one evening (which is a pretty common occurrence) and I just want to brainlessly relax. So I turn on a tv show and pour a glass of wine, snuggling up to my husband if he is home from a work trip. Or, I open up a novel and travel to a world far, far away. Both options are fine and good – we need to relax! (Okay, reading a book is definitely better for my brain, but a little tv now and then never hurt anyone.)
I still have to be careful what I put into by brain during its “free time” if I want my creativity to continue to thrive and grow. If I put junk in, I will get junk out. If I put bad creative material, lazy plots, trite dialogue, and violence into my brain, that will be reflected in my creative output. Just like if I put tons of sugar into my body I can expect to get sick, have a mottled complexion, and just feel gross.
Can you identify anything that you are putting into your creative bank that is harming your creative output? I know, personally, I have to be careful to make sure I read in the evenings rather than melting into the living room couch with a glass of wine to unwind after a crazy day. What is your personal “bad habit”?
Are you ready to purpose with me to only invest good material into our creative banks? What are you going to dwell on, entertain yourself with, relax to, indulge in even?
I would love to know how what you are investing in your creative bank! Please, please, please leave a comment below! I would love to start a conversation with you.