By Jacob Warsaw
Way back when, a young me discovered himself while taking a creative writing class. It was then when I learned that being creative isn’t just a personality trait or something that some of us are more talented at than others. It’s something one must refine, develop, and hone after time and time again. To practice your skill enough to the point that what you’re putting together in your head can be translated onto the canvas that lies in front of you. It’s no easy feat, and it takes a breaking down of mental walls in order to let your creativity flow like water. But I’m going to contradict myself. One’s creative skillset isn’t a coursing river–it is a burning flame.
The hardest part is sitting down in one’s quiet, creative domicile and igniting the fire. Rubbing flint against stone, pen against paper, brush against canvas, until something sparks. It’s the practice that allows one to create a spark more naturally, but it takes the enduring artist to find ways to feed that flame over time. Don’t let your flame dwindle by not writing, by not painting, by not finishing that screenplay. The creative person must find a way to maintain the skills and structure that they exhibit every time they create. Neglecting the practice of one’s creativity will cause the fire to die.
The latter is exactly what I learned in that fateful creative writing class. The thought absolutely possessed me that perhaps one day I may lose my flame. That is not true. One may always reignite their flame; it’s something we artists will always have within us, so don’t give up thinking that it’s forever dead. It will just be harder to reignite once gone for too long. We have to be sure to keep revisiting our flame–our creative pastimes–and practicing in order to keep our minds warm and primed. It’s the indulgence in content and experience that can help kindle the fire. It’s the poetry book at Target that’s on clearance, or the creative writing workshop you were always too hesitant to sign up for, or the art project that you started to prepare months ago that you never got around to doing.
We all get in touch with our kindling–our inspirations–in different ways. It takes trial and error to find your own way. For me, inspiration invades and burns the mind moments before sleep. It will be 2 a.m., my brain an inch away from the unconscious release I’ve craved, and then a new fiction or poem idea barges in. It may even be a moment of mania where I have to start journaling suddenly, or a quote that I find while watching television that starts an inferno in my creative mind. Whatever helps you to find your inspiration, do it. Make a routine and follow it. Find your place of oasis that you can sit in and create. Fan the flame and feed it.
With practice, sparks will soon fly effortlessly, and you will make a proficient fire-starter out of yourself. With each burning idea, you have an opportunity to make a mental connection and strengthen it by bringing ideas to fruition, to exhaust heat from the fire. Only then is it made easier to have ideas and birth them. Kindling for the fire, a whetstone for the sword, oil for the engine, coal for the furnace…whatever analogy you prefer, you owe it yourself to maintain your creative mind.