LET’S GO ON A CREATIVE ADVENTURE!
My name is Dari.
Actually Darylynn Starr Rank. But, dari.
I’m a writer, I’m a therapist who specializes in working with artists, and a teacher, guide, instructor, professor, whatever you want to call it.
I’ve taught my courses, workshops, retreats, adult camps, in many many different places for many different types of organizations, colleges, universities, businesses, non-profits. All of them designed to help artists of every type get to their art.
NOW I’ve written a book about it.
The Art of Becoming An Artist.
Don’t Just Read This Book – Do It!
The fundamental purpose of the book and the courses is to help artists actually get to doing their art.
THE ARTIST’S CHALLENGE
Now the glitch… And the glory… is that every one of us is different!!!!! Of course. So that makes it even more fun.
Needless to say the topics covered in the courses and the book are endless, almost literally. Artists deal with one of the most complex universes around.
FEAR AND CREATIVITY
But my very first (please wish me luck….) blog topic ever, is fear (which I am definitely feeling while writing this!). Fear. Or anxiety. Nervousness. Timidity. Even terror!!! When writing, or trying to write. Painting, or trying to paint. Sculpting, or trying to sculpt. Singing, dancing, cooking, composing, acting, taking photographs… I think you’re getting the point. When doing or trying to do ANY kind of art at all.
I submit that many of us feel fear when we’re trying to do our art. Duh!
The fear shuts us down, gets in our way, silences us. We may not even be aware of it, or know enough to call what’s going on fear. But it’s there. It’s almost always there.
Ernest Hemmingway, in addition to being a world renowned writer, was a world renowned adventurer. He was part of three different wars, went on safaris (yuck…), was a deep sea fisherman, sailed the Caribbean, and ran with the bulls in Pamplona – maybe. (There is some dispute about this one.) But because of this adventurousness, a reporter once asked him, “What is the most frightening thing you have ever encountered?”
“A BLANK SHEET OF PAPER”!
Yes, fear is definitely and absolutely often a part of the pursuit of art.
So now the question is, what do we do about it? And the answer to the question, or my answer, anyway?
We need to figure out ways to feel safe!
Almost every time I say this I get arguments against the idea of needing or wanting to feel safe when doing art. It happens in my courses, in therapy, in conversations with anyone who has any yearning to do art.
“Art’s not supposed to feel safe.”
‘Creativity is about daring and courage.”
“Safe is boring”.
“Artistic endeavor is about taking risks!”
And it is. Partly.
It’s not even about taking risks. Doing art is taking risks. Doing art takes courage. A lot of it.
When you do your art, you’re going into a new, unknown world. That alone is scary. Plus there are about another hundred and fifty million reasons that we all have for feeling scared. And so many of them are special to each one of us!!!! Which makes it that much scarier.
So courage, adventure, risk, absolutely. No matter what.
I suggest that you won’t have the courage to face the danger, to take the risks, if somewhere, somehow, some way, you don’t feel safe enough to face it.
Let me say it again:
I believe, with my whole heart, that we have to feel safe enough to do our art.
Here’s my bottom line????
THERE AIN’T NO SUCH SPORT AS JUST JUMPING OFF A CLIFF.
There’s jumping off a cliff into water – all kinds of water. Warm, cold, clear, murky, tropical, glacial fed. There are oceans, rivers, lakes, and ponds.
There’s sky diving off a cliff with a parasail, a parachute, or a glider.
You can attach a bungee cord and fly into space. You can climb down the cliff with camming devices and anchors.
Or you can just climb down the rocks free style, with bare hands and sticky rubber-soled shoes.
There are all sorts of sports, and fun activities, you can do off a cliff. All sorts of adventures. But they all involve SOME KIND OF SAFETY NET!
Water, parachutes, or sticky shoes…
THERE JUST AIN’T NO SUCH SPORT AS JUST JUMPING OFF A CLIFF!
So in my courses and even in my book, SAFETY is always my first concern. Some feeling of safety, at some level that suits you, is critical.
Now I’m a therapist. One of my main activities is providing a safe environment for my clients. NOTHING worthwhile is going to happen in a therapy session if your client doesn’t feel safe. No delving, no struggling, no grappling, no exploring the past, dealing with the present. You get the idea. So I work extremely hard at it, particularly with my clients.
Or I used to think, ‘particularly with my clients’.
SHUTTING DOWN CREATIVITY
Then I started teaching. Well, it instantaneously became clear to me that my students needed to feel safe just as much as my clients did. They absolutely needed to trust me and feel safe. When they didn’t feel safe, they didn’t open their mouths. Not a word. When they didn’t feel safe, their writing or drawing or whatever art form they were doing, stayed at the most superficial, boring, meaningless level imaginable. If they could do any art at all.
Did you ever had an experience in a class that made you not want to share???
I’ve heard soooooo many awful stories.
So I’m guessing that if you do express yourself to an uncomfortable level – too fast, too far, too personal, or intense (for that moment) – or if you get a response that is harsh and inappropriate, you either never go back, or you shut down even further for the remainder of the course.
You do exactly what you need to do to feel – safe.
Keeping yourself safe is a fundamental survival mechanism, hardwired in from the beginning of the universe.
Bottom line: the safer everybody feels in my courses, the better the art!
The safer everybody feels ‘doing’ my book, the better the art!
Less containment. Less shutting down. Less controlling, or disappearing. Instead, there is digging and delving and soaring through the air.
I believe this is pretty much always true about doing your art. Doing art is truly one of the great adventures.
SO WHAT IS THE CREATIVE ADVENTURE?
I have spent years misquoting who I thought was Thornton Wilder. But when it came time to journey through the world of acquiring permissions for all the quotations I have in my book (that particular, seriously insane – but fascinating – journey is a blog for another time.), I discovered where it really came from. It was from my very favourite professor in university. What he said was:
“You know you’re having an ADVENTURE when what you wish you were doing, is being at home in your own living room, sitting in front of your own fireplace, reading about someone else doing it!”
Art, the other word for adventure!
But only when you’re feeling “SAFE ENOUGH.”
Enjoy your adventure.
And take care, all!