Fearless Creating by Eric Maisel

28 Nov

Well, I’m in the odd position of wholeheartedly recommending a book that kind of tripped me up for awhile.   The book is Fearless Creating by Eric Maisel.  In it, he goes through the whole creative process step by step, and really encourages going through the creative process the whole way through.

The thing is, creating for me is making stuff, whether that be a poem or a story or a painting or just some silly ditty about shoes, making stuff for me is as natural as eating or pooping.  If I have a problem, I make stuff about it, if I’m happy, I’m making stuff, and only in my unhappy frozen moments does making stuff elude me.  Maisel sets up creating as a sort of mystical/psychological journey, sure I can dig it, but that’s not my relationship to the process.  Would I like it to be?  I don’t know.  I like creating being a sort of friendly, cheerful endeavor–a process of bringing ideas into the light, even if those ideas aren’t always  pleasant.  It’s like a discussion with myself, not a tapping into the great depths of the universe.  And hey, maybe I will tap into them, but it’s not something I can really chase.

When I got this book, a long time ago, I was hoping to get into the depths, to really dig deep and pull something out that was wonderful.  The thing is, the deeper I went, the more difficult it was for me to proceed–it’s like I got too self-conscious and would start waffling on every step.   For me creating is like riding a bike, you get into the swing of it, but if you overthink, well you might as well give up before you begin.  Keep in mind, I don’t think this was Maisel’s aim–I just think it’s how this book got to me.

The one thing I learned is that while I can be creative, that I can make things, I’m pretty darned bad at the salesmanship thing, which is part of it for good or ill.  I have never learned to effectively monetize my efforts, but then again I haven’t felt the need to.  I prefer my creations to be labors of love and life, and to let other things bring in the bacon–for one thing, even the most successful creators have to struggle to make it work for them, and for another,  having a day job is a good thing for me, it provides structure and socialization–and also I think in the end I wouldn’t make much more even if I had all day to do it.  The worst situation would be where I was making stuff and I felt like I was a one-man factory–ugh–I don’t want to be a production machine in whatever I do.

And as for the depths, well, my little odd paintings and poems, and yes even my blog, are ways to touch those things–but it’s a conversation, and I can’t really force the depths to cooperate. Sometimes they’re sullen and dark, sometimes they willfully elude me, and still I must make stuff–even when it’s just about a sunny day, or a crummy doodle that I put in the corner of some paper.

However, I think Fearless Creating would be good for people who would like to make something and haven’t a clue as to where to start.  The person who wants to paint but is a little nervous to even pick up a brush, or the person who wants to write but can’t even imagine what they would write about, that sort of thing.  I like the book, but I need something of a slightly different flavor to push me ahead.

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