“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere .”
While working on the Chronicle’s of The 2nd Dark Age this weekend, taking breaks to top up our coffee mugs, one drawing furiously, the other caught more often than not with her fingers hovering over the keyboard instead of actually touching the keys, I thought about what lies behind the compulsion we have to create. Once your work is completed, you set yourself up for public scrutiny and criticism. So why do it? What motivates the creative process?
I personally struggle with defining it. When writing is a cathartic expression, for instance in my poetry, it helps me to understand my emotions and resolve issues. When writing for an audience I want to be entertaining. I find myself hiding behind humorous, satirical expression. When I write academically I fall into a set of rules or prescribed notions that act as guide rails or restraints, keeping my work in check.
The moment I venture into uncharted waters I look for steadfast rules or, find myself easily distracted. Somewhere between the strict academic rule-bound occlusion and fretful humour lies the sweet spot where implication and inspiration tangle, a place where the two elements combine and some new element is formed.
This is the place where I find my writing really becomes exciting and the “flow” happens. A stream of pure inspiration that transports me to a place where neither time nor restrictions have any implication. As opposed to another of my passions, belly dancing, that almost instantly enraptures me and it would matter very little if I danced for one or eight hours.
The pure joy of creative expression lies in the act of doing. There may possibly be a million permutations of how one could or should approach it. Whatever the approach, the action of attempting seems to be the most certain way to reach the goal of achieving, at which point the act of creativity truly takes form.
What is the motivation behind creativity? Is it narcissistic or just a way to resolve problems. Are the imposing Egyptian pyramids, and the urge to take selfies etc just expressions of vanity, or are they an attempt to say: “I was here. Remember me”.
The truth is that creativity is motivated by numerous factors. As humans, we are compelled to communicate our thoughts, feelings and ideas. The need for self-expression has been part of us since the time of cavemen with their drawings of hunts, animals and rituals on cave walls.
The ability to create something allows us to leave a legacy. It allows you to vent thoughts and feelings, to record a time, place, person, ritual or object, albeit subjectively.
Throughout history, religion too has been a catalyst for inspired works of literature, philosophy, sculpture painting and architecture. Sacred conventions are expressed and conserved in places of worship, for example, Stonehenge and the Pantheon in Rome.
Art in any form connects us to each other. Watching an audience in the throes of elation as they listen to a talented performer, seeing their wonder and appreciation as they experience the music, knowing that someone derives pleasure from your creation, is a reward in itself.
There is a huge sense of exhilaration when taking an idea in your mind and making it tangible. Once you are truly engaged in your passion for creating something, you go into a form of trance that is both calming and gratifying.
The products of our creative expression are for all intents and purposes a mirror held up to society. It allows us to see ourselves through the eyes of another, both the beautiful and grotesque. Subjugating the world to our vision provides us with a sense of control over our desires.
It is natural that we take pride in our ability to express ourselves in a manner that is not easily copied. And if we achieve a state or level of execution in a specific discipline, we take joy in the quality of the outcome.
So all philosophical arguments aside and whatever it is that motivates our individual creative process, it would be a barren, boring world if there was no actual attempt at creating something at all.
On that note, It is time that I get back to my own writing. I will take inspiration from Daniel’s work ethic and actually start putting some words to paper. Who knows? The pages may become chapters and the chapters a book. Let’s see where the muse takes me.
Author: Nanieve Groenewald