Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dig Out Those Crayons

The other day I was cleaning up after one of my children’s many creative projects and found that I had a giant pile of art work to contend with. Although everything they create, in my eyes, is a masterpiece, most of it quickly makes its way to the recycle bin. I usually pick one or two outstanding pieces from each session and toss the rest; if I didn’t, we would be drowning in paper due to the sheer volume of art they make each day.

How wonderful to be so prolific, to create with such abandon. They have yet to find their inner (and outer) critics and I hope they can hold onto their freedom for as long as possible. As I disposed of piles of self-portraits and abstracts pieces (and tried not to feel guilty for doing so), I came to the idea that my children did not expect me to keep every scrap. For them it was more about the process than the result. The sheer joy of creation was what they were after. Whatever they make, they do it for themselves first, then show me for approval. As every parent knows, my job is not to critique, but to bear witness to their creation. Once I have seen what they have done, the piece is quickly cast aside and a new work is in progress.

Learning to enjoy the creative process without judgment is an old refrain, but we need to be reminded of it often. When was the last time you created something purely for joy, without the attachment of expectations? How many of us write for ourselves, alone, without worrying about what agents want, or how big our advance will be, or if Steven Spielberg will want to buy the movie rights?

Today, create something for you, alone. Just for the fun of it.