Creative advice abounds in today’s world of everyone-has-a-hot-take. We all have different ways that work for us, different things that inspire us and compel us to make stuff. This however isn’t a self-help article to tell you how to harness that magic for yourself. This is simply me, musing about how my imagination ignites, because it’s on my mind and I have to shake it out somehow. If it manages to spark something in you, well than all the better.
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
This past year is when I began actively writing poetry. I say actively because truth be told, my poems prior to the last year and some change were all accidental. They were sporadic moments when the spirit moved me to write something down. Then I’d tuck it away, not to be seen until months later when I was moved by something new. But last summer, I did my first poetry reading event, and within me that night, something shifted.
Whether it was the way people responded to my words, the confidence I felt in delivering said words, or something different entirely, I cannot say. All I know is that night, I felt awakened. A new candle was lit within me, and I wanted nothing more in those moments than to fan this new flame of it into something bright and strong and beautiful.
Writing poetry became a more frequent occurrence. The poems got better with each one, and expanded from internal struggles that I didn’t feel I could talk to anyone about, to bigger world issues that I wished more people would be talking about. I started getting more funky and creative with them, mixing my styles and my rhymes and my rhythms. When I was writing poetry as opposed to my usual YA sci-fi work,which always feels like it must be so carefully written, there was a certain freedom and a new-ness that made me feel more alive and present than I had in a long while.
By the time I started sorting these new poems into an actual collection, I found myself wishing I had an artist who would be willing to do illustrations for it. I thought of all the artists I knew, but then thought of the empty-ness of my wallet. As someone who grew up with an artist for a sister, I know the value in their work, and didn’t want to ask someone to do it for free.
Around the same time, I’d entered a giveaway by an author I really admire, and actually won. Included in the prizes was a cool beanie, a bookmark, a pair of sweet headphones, and a sketch book, one that has the words ART HEALS painted on the cover…
Another new something had awakened. Another candle was lit.
Slowly, I started to find my medium. Sketchy ink doodles and abstract-y watercolors. I found a healing and a transcendence and a joy in making the art to accompany my poetry. It made them feel full, each work of art like the period to the sentence of each poem — something to complete them and make them whole. I was reminded of the Greek myth in which Zeus was said to have cut humankind in half, leaving each of us to spend our lives searching the soul we were split from. This fusion of poems and art pieces was like the two spirits of my creativity finding one another again.
The words informed the art, and the art deepened the meaning of the words. The further into my creative consciousness I ventured, the more myself I feel I became.
The original idea for this article came from my mulling over the phrase, “write what you know”. It is always the one creative piece of advice I have tried to follow, probably just because it is the set of advice most often heard. But as of late I have realized that writing what I know is only one small piece to the puzzle of being a creator. My poems and my paintings, my sketches and my science fictions, my blog posts and my Instagram stories — all of these things, different from one another though they may be, are part of who I am and what I create. Each of them ignites something different within me. Every form of art a single flame in my artistic bonfire.
When I walk through daily life, working a day job just to make it, I feel like I cannot wait to just lay down and go to sleep. But when I am creating, writing, drawing, and living the life that feels like I belong to it as much as it belongs to me, I am awakened.
I hope that you find the spark that awakens you, and I hope that you nurture that flame into a blaze that only you can make.