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September, 2009

"Creativity or Obsession?"

by Webmaster

"If you are possessed by an idea, you find it expressed everywhere. You even smell it." -- Thomas Mann

Sounds like obsession to me.

It also sounds like creativity.

We can be creative without being obsessed. We get inspired by a dream, a picture, a phrase, or a sound, and somehow we create a song, a tapestry, a poem, or a painting.

We get a good start, and let it go for a while. We come back to it later, and work on it again. Eventually, it is finished or we let it it languish somewhere, half-done, buried along with other abandoned ideas.

But what about those ideas that don't go away, even when we don't act on them?

They stay with us, in the back of our minds. Something else will come along, and we think, "That will go into the book [or song or painting or quilt] if I were going to make it."

Eventually, we accumulate enough that we start to make notes, lists of things to include in the fantasy project. And, if it never gets beyond the note-taking stage, that's okay.

But sometimes it stays with us, and eventually we have to honor our muse and act on the creative impulse that comes to us. If we treat it as a gift, we may get more of that creative juice -- enough to finish the project.

At some point in the creation process, we can't stop. We have to do everything we can to finish our creation and make it the best it can be. We'll wake in the middle of the night, with just the right words for that one troubling line in a song or poem or just the right color and line for the painting or tapestry. And we can't go back to sleep. We have to get up immediately and work on our creation.

Even now, I should be putting laundry away and getting ready to go to work.

But, I read that quote by Thomas Mann, and I had to come down here to capture the vague thoughts that went with it. I wrote the first three lines of this article and thought, "I'd better stop now. I have to go to work." But, the thoughts demanded to be written down, and here I am, still writing.

Oh, I'll let it go and come back to it later. The heart of the column is here. It just needs to be reviewed and polished. I have two weeks before I need to put this up on the web site.

And, the laundry can wait. But work can't. So, I'll let this go for now.

But, I'll keep a pen and paper handy today, just in case I come up with another idea, another turn of phrase that demands to be included in this article.

How does the creative process work for you? Let me know.

Thanks for visiting AcousticByLines.


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