Some “Dear Abby”-esque relationship guidance for all your creative suitors…



Dressing the Part - You wouldn’t show up for a date in your pajamas, right? Working on creative projects deserves the same degree of gussying up. Shower, brush your teeth, get dressed. Then, set the scene. Create mood lighting with candles or open the shades for natural sunlight. Light incense or burn oils to get your senses stimulated. Let your work space be clean and clear, not cluttered with the contents of your distractive everyday life. Or, why not take yourself out on a date and do your work at a park, coffeeshop, or bar? Romance your realization! 

Foreplay - Begin to stimulate your idea with journaling and free-associative writing. Create a slam page. Highlight general thoughts on a subject with bullet points. Jot down every phrase or half-phrase that comes to mind. Make an adjective list that you can associate with your subject. Prime yourself for creativity by getting the juices stirring. And DON’T EDIT YOURSELF! Censorship, at this stage, is detrimental. Stockpile all your thoughts and sort them later. 

Press the Buttons - Record everything! Documenting the process is essential. Whatever your form, document ideas using multiple mediums. Utilize hand-written text, computer or typewriter, video, audio, photography, etc. (However, turn off email notifications and shut down social media on all devices to prevent being sucked into a vortex of distractions.) Research references that emphasize your themes. Make look-books, collages, and archives using images and quotes from your work or others’.




Steamy Start- So things are moving fast. You’ve got yourself firmly nestled around the hips of a great idea. The inspiration is flowing. Ride it wild. Do a ton of research. Immerse yourself in the process. Review your work as part of your morning routine and before you fall asleep. Let it seep into your subconscious and waking life. 

The Advice Column- To keep momentum moving, it is wise to extend the conversation. Engage in discussion with friends about their creative techniques and tricks. Get opinions and suggestions about other people’s work methods. Reach out to teachers, mentors, trusted peers. Everyone has a unique tool in their kit regarding the creative process. By sharing experiences, you may discover the impetus to your continued success and inspiration. Chat it up.  

Getting Rubbed The Wrong Way - There reaches a point in any new relationship where fantasy yields to reality. We will ultimately encounter struggle, misunderstanding, and road blocks along our path to guiding an idea into fruition. You may find that you have the endurance and passion to move through these hardships. You also may feel that a temporary break is needed for clarity. In some cases, the temporary break may showcase that permanent break is in order. Some ideas are just not ready for commitment. But ALL ideas, whether realized, stunted, or abandoned will influence new ideas to come. 




Finding The One - So, you’ve found it. That creative love that continues to excite and expand. There may have been hiatuses from active involvement, but your desire never ceased. You may have broken up and gotten back together. Or maybe your relationship persisted without truncation. Remember that long-term love succeeds by consistent demolition and reconstruction. You may have to completely decimate an initial concept, impulse, line, or foundation in order to give way to an idea that creates long-lasting support to your vision. Try not to grasp too tightly to stability or expectation. Recognize that change is an essential component to longevity in art. You are constantly shifting and evolving. Allow your ideas to do the same. 

Keeping the Spark Alive - All successful long-term relationships need attention, respect, and spontaneity to keep the fire burning. Try to spice up your patterns. If you have a specific time/place that you tend to work, change the schedule. Or try an exercise where you flip the perspective. For example, if you are working on songs for an album, write something musical that is completely contrary to your theme. If you play bluegrass, write in the style of hip-hop. Shaking things up creatively is essential to staying fresh with perspective. Then when you return to the task at hand, there won’t be so much pressure attached.




Wandering Eye - When your interests and creative inclinations cross mediums, it can seem difficult to get individualized goals achieved. Logical thought would suggest that we should focus on singular subjects and tasks in order reach our objectives. However, “crossing the streams” creatively is a wonderful way to stay stimulated across the board. Think of it as useful ADD. The moment your creative attention to a project wanes, hop over to a different interest. If you have reached capacity for the day learning lines for a play, take a break and doodle a drawing. Whatever your mixed mediums are, try devoting smaller chunks of time to ALL of them in a given work session. This way, your blossoms of thought receive equal watering, which yields a larger crop! 

Branching Out - Extend yourself into other creative disciplines that you are NOT actively interested in! Take up photography, poetry, pottery. You can gain insight in the most unexpected places. Keep stirring the pot and the flavors will broaden and explode. 

Keep Your Dates Straight - Buy separate journals and notebooks for all your individual creative subjects and ideas. Organize them in a way that feels helpful and fun. Give them the individualized attention they deserve. You can’t adore them equally if one is at the forefront and the others lie dormant. If you prefer digital to analog, use bright colors and photos to spice up your work files on the computer. 




In art, as in relationships, not everything survives. There will always be casualties of love. Whenever we put ourselves out there to romance an idea, whether it succeeds or fails, there is something to be learned. We can’t know what we want, how to evolve our ideas, or how to express ourselves without experiencing failure. Allow your defeats to inform and inspire new desires and dreams. 

“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.” Jalaluddin Rumi

Leave a comment