Heed the Process
Rick Warren writes that an intimate knowledge of our life-purpose brings crystal clear focus. (Pg 32 / The Purpose Driven Life) I add that having work in progress helps. As faith-driven artists, when we’re in the midst of making, our purpose is being realized, literally. We have energy and our sense of self-worth goes up. We feel complete.
The opposite happens when we’re sitting and stewing about what we ought to be doing. I find it draining and even debilitating. Unless I learn to take to exploration and experimentation with the same enthusiasm as my art-making inspires, I’m lost. I need to remember to “play”. Actually I need to remember to give myself permission to play, to experiment; taking risks, and exploring possibilities without knowing what’s ahead.
I’ve been conditioned to pre-plan, to avoid making “mistakes”, and to produce work of a predictable outcome. It’s proven to be a really tough thing to shake. The arts, however, are anything but predictable, and I’m having a tough time making this stick with me.
I need to stop thinking that all of my work time must be “making” time, producing finished work. That’s what we do in the mindless factories that have populated this earth for over two-hundred years. That’s why our government schools have cranked out generations of production-minded droids.
Madeleine L’Engle writes that long ago she stopped feeling guilty about taking “being-time”, as she called it. (pg 12 / Walking on Water) It was time she would walk, or sit at a pond, or just ruminate. In this being-time, she’d become refreshed, recharged, and refocused. Obviously I still struggle with this. I feel guilty unless I am making “product” in the studio. Apparently, I need to to revise my view of what being productive really is.
Someone once said that ideas do not spring full blown from the mind. How very true! Art-making, like both science and spiritual faith, is a journey of curiosity, risk-taking, and experimentation. It requires the benefit of all three stages of creativity – and I keep forgetting this. They are, Gathering, Incubation, and Birthing (to use L’Engle’s term).
I need to see exploration and experimentation as the first essential step in the art-making process. It’s not frivolous, but necessary. I also need to upgrade my view of being-time. Maybe my art-practice would be far better served if I would remember how vital the gathering and incubation processes really are to creativity.
I think I will live far more peacefully and creatively if I would simply submit to, and serve the process of creation to which I claim to be so deeply committed. If I not only recognize but embrace this awesome three-step process, I will always have fresh, new work to make.
By constantly gathering, I will have ideas in incubation. By allowing my mind and spirit to ruminate (being-time), I will end up with engaging, meaningful art to make. By making or birthing, (L’Engle again) a work, I make room for the new work that God has maturing in my soul.
In short, God will entrust me with all the work I can handle. What I need is to live within the creative process, keeping it fed, and making the new works He entrusts to me to make. I need to embrace not only this time of making, but the process from which it springs as well.