I was chatting to a friend recently about the books we've read that have shaped our outlook on creating art. There is one book that I always recommend if people ask about developing a deeper understanding of the creative process and that's Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
The main principal of the book is one that I use often and is the most profound message I took away from reading this. It's the idea that (I'm paraphrasing here) every idea in the Universe is basically flying around looking for a home and for someone to bring it to life.
Essentially when an idea comes to you, you need to grasp it with both hands and wrestle it onto paper and into existence. Like, there and then. Even if you just scribble it down on paper. Her theory goes that if you don't actually get that idea out of you and down on paper it'll kind of fly away and leave you and move onto the next person.
Have you ever had an idea come to you that you thought was brilliant but never acted on it or noted it down and then you may come to think of it a few weeks in the future and it's lost its spark? That's how her theory works - it's happened to me so many times in the past where I've just not acted on an idea or developed it and it's gone soon after.
If you don't believe in the powers of the Universe in this way, then maybe the takeaway message for you could be that everyone should get on with things and not procrastinate.
She touches on lots of other issues too and examines her own creative process. Her examination of creativity almost makes it out to be like a religion which can be like marmite to some readers I imagine but it works for me.
There is a theme of validation running through her book that I love- one that reassures you that it is okay to call yourself and artist and that you are allowed to create whatever brings you joy.
She talks about the idea that if you want to do something or be something, then just start doing it. When I first started my journey into printmaking, I did just that - I changed my social media bios to call myself a linocut printmaker. No-one told me I could or gave me a certificate to say I was now a printmaker, I just started doing it - living the way I wanted to live and being the person I wanted to be.
I'm not a purist when it comes to art - I've always believed art is for everyone and everyone can create. Just by learning printmaking, I truly believe you can call yourself a linocut printmaker. No-one has the right to tell you otherwise.
The last point I took from this book was just the fact that there is no 'right time' to create. Something I used to struggle with was putting things off - like saying I'll block out time 'next week' to work on this print - and then the week arrived and life happened and I wouldn't have started. Just like it's nearly impossible to say 'right, between 3pm and 4pm I will be creative', I think it's also true with trying to wait until all the conditions are right in your life before you can create. The important thing is to just begin.
I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did if you read it- if you've already read it, what were your thoughts on it?