An interviewer asked me some interesting questions about the value of a morning art practice, why it’s so important to get a grip on your mind, and more. Read my answers now!
INT: Is there one habit or practice that really makes a difference between getting your creative work done and not getting it done?
EM: Yes, it’s a morning creativity practice, the idea that you get directly to your creative work before your “real day” begins. Most people are too tired by the end of the day to get to their creative work; it’s much smarter to get to it first thing. That way you’ll get a lot of creative work done, you’ll be able to make use of your sleep thinking (the thinking you’ve been doing during the night), and you’ll have the experience of having made some meaning on that day first thing and your day will feel more meaningful. Those are a lot of good reasons to institute a morning creativity practice!
INT: Right off the bat in Making Your Creative Mark, you talk about how important it is to “mind your mind” – a concept I can relate to on so many levels! Can you talk a little bit more about that?
EM: Most people spend a great deal of time thinking thoughts that do not serve them. On a given day a writer might inadvertently think “There are so many writers out there,” “I haven’t written much yet,” “I don’t know if anyone will be interested in what I’m writing,” and so on—all perhaps true thoughts but thoughts that nevertheless do not serve the writer. We want to dispute, reject and extinguish all thoughts that do serve us, even or especially including those that are “objectively true.”
INT: My favorite chapter is the chapter on Freedom. I love the idea that we are free NOT to do things! Can you talk a little bit more about that?
EM: The rule in the arts is that you will not make it and therefore if you want to make it you must prove the exception and use your innate freedom to not do what your peers are doing. Instead you want to do more or employ different tactics and in other ways feel free to not follow shopworn advice or standard practices that don’t really work. By the same token you do not want to give away what marketplace freedom you do possess by hiding out, acting out, or in other ways avoiding the task of supporting your work and advocating for your work. You are freer to do things and to not do things you may imagine!
INT: Even though the book is geared toward visual/performing artists and writers, I love that with just a little bit of creative interpretation, it can apply to any kind of creative endeavor. In fact, I plan on re-reading it as I make plans for the growth of my business as a personal development coach. How do you see creativity in every day life? Do you think that everyone is creative in some way, or is that just a story we tell ourselves?
EM: Hard question to answer because we don’t have any idea what the connection might be between intelligence and creativity, because we don’t know if everyone sees creating as a meaning opportunity, because we don’t know if everyone innately feels that manifesting potential is a worthy goal and a good thing, and so on. We just don’t know. Otto Rank, a contemporary of Freud and Jung, argued that countless people “would be” creative if they didn’t fear freedom so much and that it was a “flight from freedom” that prevented millions of people who might have created from creating. Many tangled issues here!—so, hard to say!
INT: You’ve written a lot of books for artists – maybe 20 or so. Why this one?
EM: The challenges just don’t go away and there’s so much that needs to be said about how a creative person needs to manage his mind, upgrade his personality, manifest his potential, deal with his particular anxieties and stressors, accept his role in the marketplace, and more. I wanted to provide additional practical tips in all of these areas because each of these challenges can prove so daunting!
INT: I know you’re interested in “meaning making.” Can you talk about creativity/art as a meaning making activity?
EM: Creating is one of a score or so of meaning opportunities available to human beings (others are relationships, service, activism, etc.). It isn’t the only way that a person can provoke the psychological experience of meaning but for a creative person it is one of her first choices in that regard. Once you realize that you are obliged to make the shift from seeking meaning or waiting for meaning to arrive to actively making meaning on a daily basis, it follows that you will try to decide what are the best ways for you to make that meaning. For a person with the desire to manifest her potential, use her imagination and her brains, and do something she’s probably loved from childhood, creating amounts to one of her prime meaning opportunities.
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