A young painter asked me what she could do to get out of the funk she was in. She said she felt blocked and depressed.
I said, "Go make a bad painting."
"Really?" She asked.
"Yes. Just go to your studio and do a terrible painting. Nothing about it needs to be perfect. Just have fun and make a mess."
Although she seemed receptive, she was hip, young, cool, and has had some success in the past. So when we parted ways I wasn't quite sure how much credence she'd give my suggestion.
The most practical advice given to stimulate the creative process always seems too simple, unscientific, and contrary to reason. That is why whenever I share it with someone, although hopeful, I usually doubt that they'll follow through with it.
It was about a month or more before I bumped into this artist again. It felt like I was meeting an entirely different woman. The sullen and somber woman I had met just a month previous was no more. Here was a bright attractive young woman smiling from ear to ear. When she noticed me she ran right over.
"I did what you said!" She told me, "I went home and did a really bad painting, and I couldn't believe it. It turned out to be one of the best paintings I've ever done. It felt so great. And I've made several more successful paintings since. Thank you."
Self-imposed pressure is the switch that cuts us off from life, and creativity in any form always turns it on. Let yourself off the hook. You don't have to be creative to be creative.
"There is an energy in the creative process that belongs in the league of those energies which can uplift, unify, and harmonize all of us. Doing and making are acts of hope, and as that hope grows, we stop feeling overwhelmed by the troubles of the world." –Corita
Darrell Fusaro is the author of What If Godzilla Just Wanted a Hug?, co-host of the Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed podcast and a contributing columnist for i-Italy Magazine.