Thursday, March 05, 2009

Capturing the muse...

I don't know about how other creative types work, but I don't choose when I can muster up the full force of my creative mind on something. So, when I heard the title of a lecture series for educators here in WY was Teaching Creativity... It brought to mind the two major questions I have always had about creativity.

Is creativity innate, or can it be learned?

Can creativity be forced or directed?

Well, here's my answer as a performer, writer, and generally right-brained person. Creativity is innate, and you can't force or direct it (much to the chagrin of people like myself).

You know the chorus of that song by Sara Bareilles where the chorus says "I'm not gonna write you a love song 'cause you ask for it, 'cause you need one." For me it's like that. I don't choose what inspires me, and it isn't always logical. I can't set out to write (poems are the worst) about something because I want to write on a certain topic. Things either come to me or they don't. It was the hardest thing about being a live performer playing characters... It would sometimes take me a long time before I saw that character in my mind, before the whole thing came to me. And I still can't choose to write a poem, I can't sit down to do that before it comes to me spontaneously. I have often wondered how artists paint commissioned works. How do they draw inspiration to do something someone else is choosing for them? And writing for a deadline must be really hard. I think this must be where the myth of the muses comes from. People knew that things just came to you, and they wanted a reason that would explain why creativity couldn't just be turned on when you needed it.

What I do think we can do for our children is offer them a variety of creative arts so they can find their niche. Somewhere inside of us all there is some small seed of creativity, and I do think we can help our children to nurture that. I want my kids to try all sorts of mediums as they grow, maybe they will find something they love. But I disagree with the idea that I can teach them to "be creative". Do you see what I mean?

This is where you see that some people are crafty, and some are artistic. You can see it when you go to classes for arts and crafts. The person who has a very logical brain will produce a replica of the instruction sheet. The artistic person (if they dig the project) will somehow give it their own flair.

I wish we would just accept that you can't force someone to love and be inspired by anything. You can't teach someone to love reading novels. No matter how good they are technically at reading. You just can't, and what a crazy disorganised world it would be if we all just went around pursuing artistic endeavors. We NEED the diversity of logical and creative... So I hope they NEVER find a way to teach creativity, or logical thinking for that matter.


Ruqayyah said...

I think creativity comes in many many forms. And I also agree with you that it can't really be taught. And since I am not artistically gifted, I am really glad they have a HS art class offered at the "arts castle" (local arts foundation) and if we are homeschooling (insha'Allah) I plan to enroll the Emster. I really want her to be exposed to many different things so that she can discover her "creative niche", insha'Allah.

Another great post, alhamdulilah!

American Muslima Writer said...

I love this!

Lol I like you admot you can't jsut force a poem out. I used to write poems like I breathe now I rarily do but force myself with my yearly goal to make one every month. At first I felt it would be tedious but as the ball got rolling I look forward to something that will turn into a poem for me. It could be a scene ina movie, or it could be the way the light looks glowing one soemthing but either way I sieze the moment and use it. SubhanAllah.

But as for teaching my kids creativity lol. I agree it's already inside us waiting to be unleashed. But ther are ways to show kids to look at something from a new angle that might change something in their brains.
I once saw a children's book that had on every page three buttons and the artist drew various creative things having to do with positioning the buttons. Like a red, yellow green button in a row turned into a stop light.

So I do think you can show them that there are differnt ways of thinking but as for making them DO that too it would be difficult. They either can or cant

I love this post!

Faith Confusion said...

I agree, you can't just create creativity (how ironic). It is something that is there or it's not, and it comes and goes, I find.
I am writing a book and I try to do a good amount of writing every day, but many days I do not have it in me to write new stuff. On those days, like today, I go over what I've already written and just tweak the wording etc. On the days I feel creative though I HAVE TO write. It flows out of me like water.
I hope one of those days come soon....
otherwise there's always coffee to keep your mind sharp.

Brooke aka Ummbadier said...

Asalamu Walaikum Sis,

Ahh, what a timely post :D I do think everyone is creative, though some more than others and like you said there is a matter or finding your niche--BUT I think Americans have a very strong tendency to discredit the importance of creativity as misrelated to being heedlessly artsy-fartsy, but that is not what creativity is about. So we shun creativity as if all it leads to is being an "artist" (which is a profession that is totally under appreciated) when actually fostering people's comfortableness to be creative is extremely important. Without creative thought there is no innovation, only stagnation. Yuck. Sure, writer's block happens, but that doesn't actually make you any less creative, it's just blockage and most people are very backed up!

So what I am came here for today is this--I can't find yer email addy and I don't have you on facebook, which is where I posted this:

Let's Crank 'em Out: Book Writing Support for Muslimas

Asalamu Walaikum Sissies-
I've caught this buzz that there are several talented sisters who are itching to get into this novel habit (see my puns?). I'm doing a ~cough,cough~ Professional Internship this summer in which I will being assisting a sister (you know who you are!) in getting herself ready for publishing. She is going with a traditional publishing route and though I have some vague understanding of what that entails, my motto for this summer is fake it 'til I make and inshallah I aspire to be a part of whatever Allah's plan is for this sister's writing. --That means I have high hopes for her/our success in this endeavor.

Now I know there are gazoodles of resources out there, so what I am proposing is would ya'll be interested in doing some sort of support club for aspiring novelists? We could share ideas, push each other to achieve goals, bounce stuff off each other--whatevers. I could be dead wrong here, but I think stagnancy is the biggest obstacle for most of you would-be novelists--the rest is qadr. I believe you just need to push yourselves a bit.

Writers can be grossly competitive, but artists can also be supportive and inspiring to each other--so pick a side! Seriously, you in? Please tag anyone who you may think is interested. There are a couple of people I'm thinking of who are not on facebook ; maybe we could do this as a yahoo group or just through emails--we could do some fancy conferencing stuffs too, inshallah :D

Love and Peace

Ahmed said...

Woody Allen says that you can't teach stuff like being funny or being a writer, etc.

But I disagree. Perhaps you can't teach it to the highest level, but you can certainly get people off the ground. You can certainly teach people to be "good", not necessarily "great", but good.

The creative process _can_ be managed, have set deadlines, and habituated. Lots of artists attest to that.

For me, it's a question of repetition. The more familiar I am with the process, the more I learn to manage it.

UmmLayla said...

Thanks for all your input. I love to hear how other people think and how their creative process goes. I think there is something to be said for tapping creativity, and I hope everyone gets a chance. I still hold that some of us are creative in a general way, and no one taught us we just are... Which is good and bad at the same time!!!LOL

Brooke, Yahoo groups baby. That way you don't have to be into any other social networking site or anything to benefit... You just have to have e-mail. I have been thinking of joining the Muslim Writers Alliance, have you??? Let me know if you need help setting up the group, I'm in.

Ahmed, I think the more you do a thing the better you will be at it, sure. But there is a little spark in some people's work that has nothing to do with practice... Which is the highest level of skill like you said. I did the novel in a month thing and my results were mixed... I had good days and bad days, but it did make me see that there is something to writing every day that I would benefit from. Did you see my 10,000 hours post? Outliers (a book about successful people and what sets them apart) suggests that the truly excellent person in any field will always have 10,000 hours doing the thing they are great at in their background. So repetition MUST be a factor. I guess it just happens naturally that if you like something you spend time doing it, but the more time you spend the better you are.

Anonymous said...

Cool! We start Mayish :)
I belong to the Islamic Writers Alliance; first formal group-thing I ever joined and am now seeing that it is very good to do so for sources, inspiration, etc.

UmmLayla said...

Brooke, e-mail me girl!!! When are you planning on starting the group? Do you need help?