I have been hearing a lot lately about the “Creative Muse.” It seems to be all the rage for creative people these days. Everyone talks about it, but I don’t believe many know what it is. Along with all the talk comes many suggestions about connecting with your “Creative Muse,” henceforth to be known as your CM.
Scientifically, it is known that an individual’s creativity happens in their subconscious mind. It is there that patterns are recognized and solutions realized. The subconscious, which is really quite child-like, hands its musings off to the conscious mind to provide logic, structure and in general, make the idea useful. And it is here that, for most people, it all falls apart. Not that we don’t know what to do with the idea, or we are too stupid to understand it, but rather, we can’t hear the subconscious talking to us.
Understanding this problem is key to solving it. We live in a world that is increasingly noisy, stressful and demanding. We are inundated constantly with interruptions that act a a wall of noise. Against this interference, ideas from our subconscious mind are rather like (to put it crudely) a fart in a whirlwind. We just don’t hear it. This is the reason that many creative solutions to problems occur in the shower, at 2 AM in the morning and while sitting on the toilet. These are the few places where we are not being interrupted (unless you have small kids). When the interruptions and other interference go away, we can hear what our subconscious is trying to tell us and our CM is back.
There are lots of strategies to helping this process along. Daily meditation, taking regular breaks and/or walks during the work day, getting out of the office for lunch, etc. These work and I use all of them, but they are short-term solutions to the problem.
I find that to be creative, which in my case means seeing scenes I want to photograph and hatching art projects that interest me, requires that I be both excited about what I am doing and have the time to think it through and have the necessary creative connection. For that, a longer term solution is needed. Thus comes the “Road Trip.”
The best way to quiet the external noise and interruptions is to get away from the environment that causes them in the first place. Certainly a vacation can do it, but that has to be planned and usually costs a lot of money. By all means, take vacations. They are important and generally well earned. However, for a quicker, cheaper fix, just get away for a long weekend.
For the past several years, Susan and I have, at least once a year, usually more, just gotten in the car and headed off for a 2-3 night trip somewhere. We know the area we want to go and usually make hotel reservations. We also have some idea of what we want to see. Beyond that, we just go where it seems interesting. We have some basic rules:
- Unless there is no other way, stay off the interstate highways once we get to the area we want to visit
- In fact, stay off all major highways of any type when at all possible
- If a road looks interesting, turn
- If we see something on a map that seems interesting, go there
- If someone tells us about a place in the area we didn’t know about, go there
- If we see a quilt store, we stop (Susan is a quilter and deserves to get something out of this too)
Basically, we just drive, visit, shoot, have fun and eat the best food we can find. We avoid email for the most part, and the news, and we don’t talk on the phone, other than to check in at home in the evening.
Usually what happens is that the first day, I don’t see a lot of pictures. By the second day, I am seeing more and by the third day, I have a lot to things to shoot. I can actually feel myself relaxing more and more as we go. By the time we get home from the trip, I am recharged and excited about photography again. Just what I need to get reconnected with my CM.
Give it a try. You might be quite surprised.