Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Getting Creative - Week 9

Last week's card was about taking risks. I've learned that I am very risk adverse. I've been thinking about risk perception. You are much more likely to get cancer if you smoke then if you live near a nuclear power plant. That's a fact but most people think that nuclear power plants are far more dangerous than cigarettes.

When it comes to creative work, most of us think that failure is much worse than it is. And what the hell is fear of success all about? For me “potential” is the scariest word in the English language. All my life I've been told that I have “potential” and I've let it freeze me.

In high school we had to take a test every year that was supposed to tell you what field you should go into. Every year my top three choices were writer, photographer and actress. The order changed from year to year but they were always the top three. Nothing else even came close.

When I was in university I had an English professor who got very mad at me for not letting people read my writing. I walked out of his office feeling that I'd been caught masturbating. I've never forgotten that feeling but I still don't like letting people read my stuff.

Okay. That was as strange thing to say for someone who currently has four blogs and contributes stuff to a bunch of websites. Let me clarify by saying I do not like letting people read my creative writing.

I am very afraid of not living up to my potential.

Many years ago I did a writing program that had 30 students taking all the same classes for a year. Every class was on a different kind of writing. I really liked the creative writing classes best. We had to hand in something every week which would be copied and given out to everyone. At first I hated it but soon I realized there wasn't enough time in class to talk about everyone's work so I could skate by for a few weeks before I had to hear what people thought.

Two things I remember about that year. One of my teachers wrote on one of my stories that I had the best imagination of anyone shes ever known. The other thing happened during the last week of class. A few of my fellow students asked me to autograph their copies of the stories I had written. They were sure that I was going to have a spectacular career and be famous.

I did it but I think it jinxed me. I haven't done anything worthwhile, creative writing wise, since.

This week's card:
Most dimensions of the human experience have been documented in books. And there are lots of them. Most bookstores and libraries have books on creativity as well as biographies of specific artists, numerous collections of artists' work, and more “how to” books than imaginable. There is nothing like reading about your favorite artist's tortured life to put your own trials and anxieties into perspective. And if you don't like the selection that's out there – well, think about writing your own.

Okay. Reading I can do. These two books are now on my reading list: The Zen of Creativity: Cultivating Your Artistic Life and The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life. Do you have any books that inspire you to be creative? Feel free to post them in the comments.

Creativity Resources:

Gizmodo is running a cinemagraph “shooting challenge”. If you don't know what a cineamagraph is ( I didn't) check out the two videos below.

How to make a Cinemagraph with Photoshop and After Effects from Kert Gartner on Vimeo.

Assignment Wired is a challenge run by the photo editors at Wired magazine. Each assignment will help you develop your photo journalism skills.

About the image: A screencap of a game of Risk at Pogo. I was purple.

Getting Creative is a 52 week project where I will try to work my way through  52 Ways to Nurture Your Creativity by Lynn Gordon. You're welcome to come along as I do a card a week for a year.

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