There’s two of you and only one really knows how to be creative
Learning how to be creative readily, consistently, and easily comes from understanding something a little shocking: there’s two of you.
Under the general umbrella of “you” there’s two personalities, each with their own perceptions and super-powers. When one is in control, you feel awful. When the other is at the fore-front, you feel highly delightable and incredibly fun.
The Doubting Self
One of you is your doubting self. Also known (by me) as “the foul miasma of vast self-rejection” and by enlightened folks like Eckhart Tolle as “the pain body.” You know you’re in your doubting self when you feel worried, pre-occupied, rather miserable, hopeless, and disconnected from the people around you.
Your doubting self perceives the world as a hostile, competitive, alienating place and talks to you in a voice that’s like a cross between Judge Judy and Rush Limbaugh. She resists everything that happens in your life and the world that isn’t up to her standards and walks around feeling rotten and self-righteous.
She’s mean, loud, belligerent, judgmental and afraid. Your doubting self has super-powers of paranoia and despair. She’s widely regarded by much of our society as completely reasonable and normal, even though she’s just kind of a jerk.
The Magic Self
The other one of you is your magic self, also known as your genius or your soul or your heart (it’s a tricky business, sorting out the difference between “heart” and “soul” although I sure have tried- they’re essentially terms for the same energy, with slightly different connotations).
Your magic self sees the world as a loving den of possibility, a place where miracles can happen and where tons of love can be effortlessly given and received. To her, the world is basically friendly and supportive. She doesn’t feel the need to resist or argue with anything that is.
She intuitively knows what to do to guide you to the best outcomes in your life. She knows how to solve problems and invent wondrous works of art and practical usefulness.
Your magic self, in other words, has the super-power of creativity in its highest sense – what the Transcendentalist philosophers used to call Imagination (with a capital “I”!) – it’s the kind of genius inventiveness that brings stuff into the world which is full of love and beauty – not just clever nonsense or utility.
The Whole Trick of Creativity
The whole trick of being able to bring forth art that’s richly meaningful or practical solutions that work in a deep, holistic way is to learn how to occupy your magic self much more than your doubting self.
That’s it. Your magic self knows what to do. It’s just a matter of letting her live through you.
Yet this is a process that can take some time. I’m perpetually learning it myself. The thing is, I’ve gotten way better at it than I used to be. How much way better? Well, in a year I wrote a novel, a dissertation, a book of poetry, a book on creativity that’s soon-to-be-published, launched a business, helped organize a national conference and threw some really rad parties.
I don’t say that to brag. I want to emphasize that I used to spend all of my time chain-smoking and watching Battlestar Galactica and crying (I have multiple witnesses to attest to this, also known as my former room mates). I’m wanting to emphasize that it’s possible to becoming astoundingly productive when you start living more in your magic self.
A Sneaky Way to Embody Your Magic Self: Drinking Elixirs
Try this when you’re feeling sorely miserable and need to switch gears:
1. Make yourself a cup of tea or coffee. Make sure it’s nice and hot!
2. Hold the mug in your hands. Watch the steam rise from the cup.
3. Quietly dub the liquid in your cup with a highly improbable, poetical name: “You, coffee, are now the molten lava at the center of the earth.” Or, “You, chamomile tea, are now the amber blood of angels.”
4. Sip your highly improbable beverage, all the while imagining it taking its poetical effect on your system. The angel’s blood perhaps makes you feel elevated, the molten lava maybe makes you feel hot and invincible.
5. Proceed with what you’ve got to work on, now buoyed by some strange magic.
Why this works
Look, it’s hard to stay miserable while drinking the blood of angels. This little exercise moves you out of your rut of ugly “reality” and into the realm where your power lays: in play and metaphor and wonder. We all too often forfeit our inventiveness because the world seems to have been invented already. But that’s just how things stay boring.
We’ll be doing a lot more to get into our magic selves and get seriously creative and productive at the Honeybutter House for Wayward Geniuses happening in Pittsburgh in November 2012. If you’re a wayward genius and you want to find out more, you should email me about it now: firstname.lastname@example.org.