First thank you for your comments on part 1 of this which mostly dealt with the question of “how to find the time”. Of course all that made me think about the time issue some more. And on the question of “What is creativity anyway?”. But though I’ll definitely come back to that I’ll continue with how to find resources and space today. (The problem with this series might be to find a way to stop writing it since it is basically the main theme of my blog anyway. Or the main theme of my life.) So, back on schedule.
2. Find resources
Different creative endeavors call for different kinds of resources, of course. As I gave you the advice to grab any minute you could get, when you try to find the time of course now I won’t tell you that you need a big studio, a pristine workplace and only the best tools to get started. So, here are a couple of ideas:
For the aspiring writer: get a notebook and pen. This is one of the things that I really love about writing. It is low cost, clean, easy and quiet. And you can do it anywhere. While you can look for the perfect pen forever you also can use what you have on hand. It is good to have a fast writing pen, but you don’t really need to. While I love my new, shiny, flowery Waterman fountain pen, I have used ordinary pencils for ages. (And when you want to have a new, shiny fountain pen like I do, do what I did: first select one that isn’t too expensive, second ask your parents to give it to you as a Christmas present.).
And then you obviously do have access to a computer. You can use that too but it isn’t as portable or easy. Books and classes and all that can help but they don’t necessarily do. In the end it all comes down to pen on paper or fingers on keyboard. Taking a class or reading a book about writing helps you think about it but, well, only doing gets things done.
For the aspiring musician: of course this is something I’m really experienced in. It’s my job to help people become musicians. But really, you don’t need a teacher. In fact you need less than you think.
- The best musical instrument is your voice. Most of us have one right here. “But I can’t sing!” you say. Don’t worry, you can. Only when you have a voice that’s constantly scratchy or hoarse have it checked by a physician. For everybody else it only takes practice. How to practice? Easy. Just sing. Sing to the radio, sing in the shower, join a local choir, then sing some more, then try to sing the song you heard on the radio, fail, sing some more. If you’re singing out of tune and you hear it yourself, congratulations you have everything you need. Try listening to yourself while you sing. No, really listening. And if you don’t like the sound of your voice, sing some more and try to experiment with your sound. When it hurts or you lose your voice stop. Then try again but this time a little gentler.
- The next best might be the guitar. Ask around and find somebody who has an old guitar that he doesn’t play anymore. Buy some new strings and find someone to put them on the guitar for you. Find a guitar book (the person who gave you the guitar probably has one), find someone to show you where to start with chords, play. Though I’m teaching beginning guitar students how to play chords, you really don’t need a teacher. You can learn a lot all by yourself.
- Also not so hard to find: a piano or keyboard. One of your relatives might have one sitting in the living room gathering dust. You only have to move it. Nowadays a lot of people have a keyboard somewhere around that they bought for the children. Borrow it.
- For the aspiring composer: get a cheap tape recorder, or if you want to get fancy use your computer. I have one with an inbuilt microphone and it comes with recording software. It even has a sort of synthesizer and loops. Julia Cameron taught herself how to write songs by singing them into a tape recorder and later picking the melodies out on a toy keyboard.
So you get my drift: borrow something or use what you already have. Don’t think that you need a grand piano, a piano teacher and a voice teacher. You don’t have to be able to write down musical notes. I once taught myself how to play the trumpet. I borrowed a trumpet and a beginner’s book. A friend showed me how to get a sound out of the instrument and then I just tried and tried and tried. Usually I waited until everybody was out of the house, but then I just made horrible farting noises until I got it.
To me that’s the main problem with making music, it makes noise. But nobody says anything about your singing in the shower. Sing in the car, no problem. And your children will get used to it. I once knew a woman who played her drums in the evening when her children w ere asleep. Those children were used to get to sleep while she banged on her drum set in the adjacent room. (I don’t think this is the best way to do it, but when it’s the only way you can do it, do it that way.)
For the aspiring artist: again, notebook and pen, or pencil. At first you don’t have to get fancy. Use crayons, use your children’s art supplies. In fact fancy art supplies might get in the way. When I expressed interest in learning how to draw my sister gave me a boy of pastel chalks. They’re lovely but I still have to use them. And you know why? First, I’m still not sure that I deserve them and second she told me you had to put some kind of finish to them when you’re done and I don’t know how. (Well, I know because she told me but I have yet to buy hair spray.) Do pastels go rancid? Maybe I should get into the spirit of this and draw something in pastels the next week.
For the aspiring sculptor: use play-doh. Or sign up for pottery class. Go outside, come back with a piece of wood. Find a pocket knife. Make something with paper-mâchè.
For the aspiring film-maker: write a script, draw sketches of what things should look like. Draw them even when you can’t draw. Borrow a video camera, make pictures, use photoshop and make a stop-motion film. Use your play-doh again. Or your children’s action figures. Whatever.
For the aspiring actor: act in front of the mirror, find acting classes, go to improvisation theater.
I think you get my drift. Start easy, start with what you already have. Don’t wait till you have the expensive single lens digital camera before you take pictures. When you find that you’re taking lots and lots of picture, save money and buy a better one. Buy it used. Like I did with my bag-sewing-project use the old sewing machine that drives you crazy. Or do it like my sister. She’d rather have no sewing machine than a bad one and so she is making her beautiful quilts by hand. And yes, sewing and taking pictures count as creative. Knitting too.
I’m sorry, this is too long again. So part three will be about finding the space for creativity. Physical space that is. I’ll deal with mental space in part, um, three or four.