Consider everything you own.
What’s the most valuable possession you have?
What’s the one thing you treasure more than anything else?
It might be a house, or a computer, or a collection of records.
It might be a piece of jewellery handed down four generations, or a notebook you’ve had for three decades.
It might be a china plate given to you on your first birthday, a baseball glove signed by a childhood hero, a camera that’s travelled with you to a dozen incredible places, or a set of artist’s tools that cost you years’ worth of saving.
In truth though, all of these objects are just objects. They’re only physical things.
If you lost every one them, or if you let every one of them go, you might be sad for a while, but you’d survive. You’d learn to move on and live without them. You’d find a way.
I would suggest that , as an artist, your most valuable possession is your creativity.
The most precious thing you have – and will ever have – is that source and fountainhead of every piece of art you’ve ever created, and will ever create.
Whether you consider your creativity to reside within you – and be some all knowing mysterious core from which all of your ideas and inspiration emerge – or whether you feel your creativity is a conduit and a channel for inspiration received from another (higher) place, it makes no difference here.
The fact remains that your most treasured possession is your creativity.
Everything begins there.
Think about how people typically treat their most treasured physical possessions.
My father was a car lover, and never had less than two or three vehicles on the drive and in garages. I remember every weekend, and often during the week too, he’d carefully clean his “pride and joy” (or that should be “prides and joys”) inside and out, until it gleamed like a diamond in the sunlight.
I can’t remember a time when I saw my father driving a car that was anything less than what anyone else would call spotlessly clean, and even then he always had a cloth or sponge on hand to give it an extra polish when he felt he needed it. Which was often.
How does this compare with the way you treat your most valuable possession – your creativity?
Do you treat it with the same care, devotion, and reverence that my father (and many other fathers) treat their vehicles?
Do you keep it in the best possible condition? Do you make sure it’s running as smoothly as possible? Do you spend hours a week with it, tinkering and stroking and bonding even further?
I suspect you don’t.
I suspect that instead you ignore it for days, weeks, even months on end, then when you do turn to use it, you expect it to fire up instantly and perform better than ever.
If you abandoned a car on the side of the road for weeks on end – just walked away and let it roll into the ditch – when you returned, would you expect it to still be shiny and pristine? Would you expect it to start up in an instant and be able to take you on a 500 mile journey across the Alps without missing a beat?
It’s very unlikely.
So why do you have that kind of expectation with your creativity?
Why do you feel that you can neglect it for long periods of time, with barely a nod or a glance, then return and expect it to glide you effortlessly through a complex, lengthy new project in a medium you’ve not tried before? And then you get frustrated and angry when it doesn’t perfectly flow.
You can abuse a vehicle and treat it with complete disdain and it’ll work for a while, but eventually it will stop. Then you can either get it fixed, or if it’s a terminal case, get a new one.
You’ve only got one source of creativity though.
You can’t just pop into the local showroom, hand over your money, and drive away in another sparkling, sporty new model at a moment’s notice.
You need to take care of the one you’re going to have your whole life.
So how can you treat your creativity a little better?
How can you give it the care, attention and nurturing it needs?
How can you start respecting and valuing your creativity in the ways it deserves, and as much as it deserves?
How about using it every day?
How about every morning or every evening devoting a little time for just the two of to play and tinker together? Maybe at first just 15 or 30 minutes?
It would be an excellent plan.
And today would be an excellent day to begin.
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