By Sharka Waite
“In your very imperfections you will find the basis for your firm, way-seeking mind.” ― Shunryu Suzuki
It feels great when your thoughts float on the paper (or keyboard) like dancing angels and everything works in perfect synchrony. However, there are times when nothing works quite as well. I had one of those a couple of days ago as I was sitting at my desk, trying to write, trying to think, trying to be creative, though I couldn’t find the path to my heart. Ideas were asleep and no words seemed to be coming to my mind. I felt lost. I felt hopeless, helpless, restless. I turned my favorite instrumental chillout music on and tried to follow some sort of rules for writing. Rules of discipline, but no creative force was pushing any poetic thoughts onto the paper.
Although we as culture are so focused on perfection in everything of physical nature and every endeavor, there are some days when we just can’t be creative and produce our craft the way we’d like and are forced to accept the imperfection of such moments. Sure, some people are disciplined enough to sit at the desk for as long as it takes to squeeze a page of writing out of them, or a painting, or a song, but that doesn’t seem to be the most organic way of art to me. I have to feel it. I have to get lost in it, get torn into pieces and then gather them up in order to be touched by it or be changed.
I found three easy ways to restore my creative mind when there’s no creativity in sight:
- FORGET ABOUT IT
What I mean by this is quite literal. When I feel empty for poetic expression or creative vision for illustrating or drawing, I leave it alone and go for a walk. Even if you’re the type who allocates certain amount of time per day at certain hour, if your ideas are dull without much flow, the allocated hour at the desk staring at the same spot in the wall in front of you won’t help with finding new treasures. What will help is fresh air. The scent of newly mown lawn, young blooms in the neighborhood, the view of tall trees towering over you and touching the morning sky, the puffy clouds dancing around the setting sun, will refresh your senses. You might be energized and even get a new perspective. So, go outside, and take your dog along…he might cheer you up.
- FEEL IT
Often times people think they’re only supposed to write when they are in the best frame of mind. When life is grand, positive and sunny. When life is going their way and all is well. That might indeed be a wonderful time to write or be artistically creative, however, often the most moving, mind stirring, thought provoking or touching art is when the writer, painter, musician, is at their worst, at the very bottom. When they don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t wait for the perfect time or circumstance. To explore your innermost strengths and weaknesses is to write when you feel like dying, with no hope for tomorrow. You might be surprised at the depth of your soul and the perseverance in your heart you might find.
- BEFRIEND IMPERFECTIONS
I am a self-proclaimed perfectionist. It’s a gift as well as curse. When things go well and I am in the groove I love my attention to detail, a keen eye for perfect alignment and beauty. However, when things are not quite “perfect” the fear of imperfection often keeps me at bay. There are times when I don’t even want to start a new project if I fear I won’t be good at it. This state of mind is unnecessary and not at all useful. This is one of my most frequent struggles and I’d be the first one to admit how paralyzing it in fact is. This is a constant battle but, once viewing imperfection as a genius, uniqueness and a fresh set of eyes (so to speak), it becomes liberating. Who’s to say my drawing is imperfect or my poem incomplete? It’s all subjective and in some cultures it’s even encouraged to create a piece of art with a flaw in it – that’s what makes it unique and irreplaceable.
So, if it doesn’t come naturally – forget about it. Then get back to it and feel it deeply and, in the end, embrace the imperfections in your art. Don’t be so harsh on yourself, set yourself free. Your soul will thank you for it.