The trap of myths
The realm of creativity continues to maintain an aura of mystery mostly due to the abundance of myths surrounding it. Myths are sometimes beautiful stories meant to provide some sort of explanations about the things we know little or nothing about. They help us believe that they fill in gaps of knowledge and allow for an apparent understanding of the topic they are concerned with.
The problem with myths is that –for the most part- they only give us the illusion of knowledge and truth which also tends to stop us from asking reasonable questions and challenge even the most basic discrepancies we might perceive or assumptions that we hold.
One such myth is the idea that creativity is only possible in chaotic environments; add to it the ways in which media presents highly creative people’s lives and working environments as always disorganized, messy, and structureless and you got yourself a myth. At times, even artists will buy into the myth of creative chaos and will live up to its’ standards afterward complaining of creative blocks, inability to focus or get inspired; I too fell in this trap in the beginning.
A personal account of rituals
Creativity revealed itself to me from a young age and while for most of my life I identified as a creative person it was only when I began to question and challenge some of these myths that I had the realization of how I am creative and what it really means to integrate creativity into my life. With this realization came an interesting set of rituals or habits that I began engaging in on an almost day to day basis. It is not necessarily what you do that helps the creative process, rather their repetitive nature that create a sense of focused flow as well as the benefits on mood and well-being in general. The realization I had led me to a sense of commitment to my creative side as well and internal pull towards encouraging and feeding my creativity through these rituals.
Benefits of rituals
Rituals are important to creative people because repetitive behaviors are easy to assimilate and once assimilated they become habits; rituals are meant to give you a framework in which to function. A ritual can be as basic as having a cup of tea or coffee at the beginning of each day or doing headstands as Stravinsky used to do.
When you engage in a ritual you help yourself become more focused because rituals are meant to offer structure particularly if you’ve been submitting to the myth of chaos in creativity. Aside from helping you focus, rituals create an almost seamless work flow that makes the process of creativity easier to engage with and navigate. Ideas flow more freely if the environment you work in is set up in such a way that it doesn’t require you becoming distracted and taking the time to second guess the things surrounding you. There is less stress and pressure when you don’t have to anticipate or take your focus away from creating to whatever unpredictabilities you run into every single day.
The ability to focus when doing creative work is a necessity and real focus is possible by minimizing the unknown variables in our immediate creative environment (having some sort of basic structure or framework as rituals provide).
Rituals can also give you a sense of accomplishment, as you’re crossing things off your list, if you have one. When we feel accomplished we become empowered, more energized, and confident in our abilities to create.
Highly creative people throughout history and today have used rituals (a lot of them quite odd) and recognized their ability to keep creative work grounded and manageable. A world of chaos and unpredictability is very hard to navigate, make sense of, or even function in and daily rituals can give you the time and space to think and make sense of what is going on inside you so that you can freely harness those emotions in your creative work.
What are some of the rituals you engage in during your creative process? Sometimes, we are not even aware that the things we do are part of our creative process and only later realize that we get creatively stuck or uninspired because we stopped doing them, unaware of how they were helpful.
Photo credit: Nahuask