Martha-Graham-Think-different“Well, obviously you need a writing instrument and you need an idea. I’m just not sure which should come first.”

Forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance ‘Bones’ Brennan (Emily Deschanel), from TV Series “Bones” (

Creative expression is not just about using outside materials and tools, but actually being an instrument oneself.

It is a valuable and challenging idea that has been a theme of a number of acting coaches, but also applies to any form of creative work.

One example was the acclaimed teacher Sanford Meisner who said, “Every actor’s instrument is different because every actors instrument is their humanity, their sensitivity. Their soul. And there is no ‘right way’ or ‘one way’ to get to that instrument. That soul.”

[Book: Sanford Meisner on Acting.]

The following inspiring and insightful perspectives by dancer, choreographer and teacher Martha Graham have been around many years, and widely quoted – but it may be valuable to think about them every now and then.

She refers to many topics that impact us as creative people, and can slow down or shut off our channels of creative expression.

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.

And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.

The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions.

It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.

You have to keep yourself open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.

Keep the channel open.

No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time.

There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.

Quotes from the book: Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham, by Agnes De Mille.

A final quote:

“If you are an artist, you are your instrument. The greater access you maintain to yourself, the richer and broader your array of creative tools.”

Psychologist Cheryl Arutt, Psy.D., in her article Affect Regulation and the Creative Artist.


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    Last reviewed: 10 May 2013

APA Reference
Eby, D. (2013). Be More Creative: Keep the Channel Open. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 1, 2015, from



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