Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Creative Cycle and A Beautiful Anarchy

Pretty much every self-aware creative person that I know has come to the same conclusion.

Sometimes you are at the top of your game, making art that inspires you and resonates with people.
Sometimes you suck at everything, have always sucked, will never make good art again.
Sometimes you're in the middle, maybe you could make something, if only you were a *little* more inspired.

Many of us do not realize that this is a universal experience to creative people. We all go through stages where we feel like this. It's a cycle, which means it repeats endlessly and will continue to do so for as long as we live.

Furthermore, we don't necessarily realize that we have some control over this cycle. We may not wake up in the morning and decide "I want to be stuck in a rut today," but if we choose to watch Netflix all day instead of getting out of the house and making new art, taking in new sights, or taking time to just get away from it all - we are effectively making exactly that choice.

David duChemin released a new book recently. I've been reading his books for five years - religiously purchasing those that resonate with me. The new book, A Beautiful Anarchy is an honestly-written experience that I think all creative people should read. It is one man's experience with the creative cycle, with the struggle of avoiding stagnation and procrastination. It sheds new light on the cycle not because David knows anything you don't already know, but because he is willing to talk about it, to honestly put it all out there, to be vulnerable.

You will find yourself nodding and smiling as you read because you know exactly how he feels, but you've never bothered to put it into words (probably because you've never bothered talking about it with anyone). In this sense, the book is very much like having a conversation with the author, who knows what you're thinking while you read it because he has been there, done that, and (most importantly) gotten through it.

As I write this, I feel like I'm on a roll with my photography. I've been making images I am happy with, getting sound feedback from those around me, and generally I am on the crest of the wave. Three weeks ago I was in the trough and I hated everyone and everything and couldn't imagine making a good picture. This book is going to resonate more clearly with those in the trough, because that's where it is most difficult to be a creative person. When you're at the crest, "it's all good" and you don't need a book about creativity, especially one that is listed in the Amazon "self-help" category.
[David, I agree they should call that category something else.]

Regardless of where you are in the creative cycle at the moment, you need to read this book. If only to help you recognize where you are and what your particular cycle looks like. Honest conversations like these are always worth having - being more aware of your cycle will allow you to guide it, shape it, and in so doing guide and shape your life as a whole.

David, thank you for putting this out there, for being vulnerable and for adding to the conversation about life as a creative.

Now, I'm off to create something. You should be too.