breaking free of autopilot


Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way (Edward de Bono)

I could feel it creeping up on me: this not caring. Words failed me and canvases stood waiting - blank.

I questioned my ability to live life as an artist - it wasn't like I was creating something. So I watched a lot of TV, washed a lot of clothes, did a lot of cleaning and for the most part, avoided the one part of me aching to be exercised: my heart. My words. My art.

In his book The Crowd, The Critic, The Muse, Michael Gungor writes about what it feels like to live as a creative. He says "only real things get to create things, not ghosts or phantoms. Dead souls do not produce the same stuff as living ones do."

And I get this. So much. 

It's easy to fall into a rut - to experience burnout. It's easy because our culture believes to live numb is to live normal, and this is not okay.

As an artist, I know I'm about to burnout when I stop myself from feeling. 

In order to avoid this, I break open my art journal sitting closed for too long on my desk. I do it even though sometimes, most times, it's the last thing I want to do because I know the honesty will hurt. I know the feelings and words and questions and doubt rallying for attention inside my heart will spill out unheeded.

I exhale paint and let it fall where it may. I pull out a canvas and scratch prayers on the blank space only to nail them down with color.

I sit and let myself read.

I let the words spill - regardless of what it looks like

Usually, I get honest. Words start forming and suddenly I'm not tired anymore. Suddenly I'm aching for a pen and paper and writing, writing, writing until I'm absolutely spent because the emotions just keep coming and I have to capture it - have to grab those words while they're here.

Sometimes, this looks messy.

But, I want to be honest. I want to know what it means to feel. 

I don't want to be on autopilot.

I'm learning what this looks like for me - what it means to separate myself just enough to grab a breath before going deep once more. It's not always clean - not in the least. But it's good and it's holy, even if it's broken.

How do you fight autopilot? What keeps you from creating?

Posted on October 26, 2012 and filed under remembering art.