creativity: lipstick and cowboy boots
April 23rd, 2014
I’m so glad you guys enjoyed my last post about creativity. Now we know you and everyone around you is creative, whether or not you define yourself by your creativity. But how do you access it? How do you turn it on? The absolutely best way to kill all creativity is say, “Be Creative!” Arg! I think I even did that in my last post, sorry. It’s so easy to do, because if you are telling someone else to be creative then you probably aren’t the one doing the actual creative work.
And being creative is work. Like work it is really hard to get started and it totally sucks sometimes. Other times it’s so awesome you can’t even stand it.The part of creative work I want to talk about today is the getting started part. Before you have an idea, before you even try to have an idea about an idea, you have to get up. You have to literally get your ass up and get to work.
After college I lived in Chicago and decided I wanted to learn ballet. Well I had wanted to for years, but my insecurities held me back. Luckily, I lived close to a small, super fantastic ballet school, Hyde Park School of Dance. I was the lone 20-something in a room full of 14 year olds, but I quickly got addicted and was going to class 2 or 3 hours everyday. The school was run by two sisters who were both kind and strict. All of their students were attentive and hard-working and doing their best. And they were teenagers! The sisters inspired something in these girls (and me). I remember both of them talking about showing up–not actually showing up to class, they’re parents drove them there–showing up and being ready, mentally, for the work. Each of the sisters had a trick they used. The older sister August would put on bright red lipstick when she needed to be on, even if she didn’t want to be. And the younger sister, Aimee told a story about being nervous for an audition and wearing a white leotard. In a sea of black leotard clad dancers, she felt bold and different and of course got the part.
This was a revelation to me. I didn’t know that grown ups had to do this (I was 20, remember), or that people I considered throughly creative had to do this. And had to do it all the time.
Often just starting (sitting in front of your sewing machine, opening your sketchbook, taking out the mixer) will let loose your creativity. But there are times when getting started seems overwhelming and devastatingly difficult. That’s when you need a trick. When I need to get myself up, get serious, get moving, get something, I put my cowboy boots on. As you can see by the boots, I have to do this often.
When I need a little bit more motivation, I use August’s red lipstick trick. My favorite is Red Revival by Maybelline. [Quick disclaimer: I know next to nothing about makeup and all of mine comes from the drugstore. Also, these are affiliate links] And two new favorites are Revlon’s Just Bitten in Gothic and Cover Girl’s Smoochies in #textme. Yes, I’m 36 and I wear lipstick called Smoochies (the i is dotted with a heart, of course). But it works!
There is little motivation for doing creative work when you aren’t getting paid, no one is demanding it of you, and really “Why am I making this painting, cake, shirt, blog, headboard, raised bed garden, [insert creative endeavor here] anyway?” We can get caught up in the why, when really creativity is often about saying, “Screw why!” Stop thinking about why, really just stop thinking. Put on your boots or your lipstick and start.
Do you have to trick yourself to get started Do you have your own trick that works?