En av mange ortodokse kirker i hovedstaden

Trust your creativity. It will not let you down – if you only have faith in it. In many ways that statement is my religion – at least when it comes to the creative process. It’s certainly the philosophy I base my workshop and teaching on. We are all born with a connection to what I call our creative well (an expression I have borrowed from Julia Cameron, writer of the book The Artist’s Way). Have you ever seen a child not being able to be playful – which in essence is the same as being creative? Unfortunately this playfulness is something most of us will lose as we grow older. Only the talented ones keep playing with their creativity after a certain age. Or is it really so? Is it only conventions and expectations of what it means to grow older that lead us to discard our creative child?

For one thing I don’t believe talent has anything to do with being creative. The fact is talent or lack of talent has never been a limiting factor for any artists willing to do the work. It might set the perimeters for your potential as an artist, but hardly any artist hits the roof of his or her potential. With hard work and trust in your creative abilities you will reach as far as you want to. Again talent isn’t as necessary requirement for being creative. On the contrary I believe creativity is accessible to everyone. If only you open up to your creative well and are willing to trust it.

Creativity can’t be learned in a traditional sense of learning. You just have to start with what you have gotten in you. Slowly (or sometimes faster) the creative well will then open up to you. You can learn to facilitate the creative processes; you can get inspiration from other artists as well as from all kinds of sources in your life. One thing you can’t do is to sit down and just wait for it to happen. Inspiration doesn’t come out of a vacuum. Creativity is something to be uncovered, not something to be wished for. If you let your self open up to the creative resources within you, you will find that it is not a scarce resource. It will not run out no matter how much you draw on it. On the contrary, the more creative you are the more creative you become. Creativity is limitless. It’s a never ending source, filling up ever quicker every time you draw from it. There are only three prerequisites: You have to open up for it, you have to work (hard) with it and you have to trust it. Sounds like religion? Well, I am not really much of a religious guy, so I don’t care what it’s called, but I believe this to be real.

A recent example from myself: Over the last couple of months I have been working on the plot of my latest novel. Slowly by slowly the structure of the novel was getting laid out. As I got closer to the end, I started to get worried about the ending. I needed a strong ending, one that turned everything around while at the same time tidied up all loose ends. But I couldn’t see it, it wouldn’t come to me. But I just kept developing the plot towards the end, trusting that something would come up in the process. I wrenched my brain; I tried to lay out different strategies like mathematical equations. But nothing worked. Not until I was only few sections away from the ending. And then suddenly it just came to me while writing it. It was as it had been there all the time, only I hadn’t seen it. But the more I needed it, the more it got revealed. In the end I got the strong and surprising ending I was looking for, and it even used elements I had put in the plot earlier without really knowing what to do with them. I trusted the creative process. And I was «rewarded».

96 thoughts on “Unlimited

  1. I find your insight into the creative process to be quite accurate. I can relate to your descriptions of the process, the difficulties, the realities of it. I spent a decade designing intricate dance costumes, with celtic knotwork. I wasn’t one who could draw up in advance. Rather, I let the fabrics and the colors speak to me and cut as I went. Could have been scary because the fabrics were high-end and very expensive, but it always worked out. I was happy that the design flowed from my head as I needed it – like I could see it as it needed to go under the scissor. Thanks for your post. Great post! ~SueBee

  2. Otto! This image is incredibly beautiful. And a creative interpretation. Wow. I am seventy-one years old. I picked up my first camera only a few years ago because I wanted to record images of my grandson as I saw him. From there, I began to see things in ways that I enjoyed. I started a blog. People encouraged me. The more I look at the world through the lens of the camera, the better I understand it and who I am too. Thank you for confirming that here. 🙂

  3. I love this post. Ive been creative all my life and started at age 4 with piano. Piano, however, was never my passion as “talented” as I was. I took up photography about three years and find I am passionate about it. My creativity is slowly unfolding. Technical knowledge needs to be gained so it can be used for creativity and I find when I work hard at it, it shows. I know photography does not come as easily to me as piano but I’ve been working hard at it and seeing my progress and smiling along the way. Thank you for the encouraging post.

  4. Your first paragraph is very interesting to me. I think I’ve lived this in the reverse in that my creative child was always kept in a box, and never let out until now that I am older. I was playful, yes, but in a very serious way what with the Catholic school nuns dictating as much, along with family dramas. But now, until just a few years ago, has the child come out to play. The creative well was always there, only it had a lid on it; I’m just starting to pry the lid off.
    I’ll look forward to your novel.

  5. The photograph is amazing…. Your thoughts on about creativity is so nice, and great sharing with us. I always love to hear your thoughts and experience about photography: Thank you dear Otto, love, nia

  6. Otto, I love this post. You have answered a question about creativity in the best possible manner: “Have you ever seen a child not being able to be playful – which in essence is the same as being creative? ” It is not a talent of being creative, it is a state of mind which we all have excelled at in life (some more than others). Beautiful.

  7. “Inspiration doesn’t come out of a vacuum. ” This is a key. We have to learn to look for inspiration, to create an environment where we can get ideas, to work in order to start something, than the follow up will come.

  8. Excellent post. In fact, I feel that everyone has an innate need to be creative–to create some form of art. Our families, friends, schools, and society in general tend to beat down that innate need. And we internalize the voices of all the naysayers, becoming our own worst critics. Talent, creativity: it is there, I believe, ready and eager to be found, if we will let it. (All this, by the way, I base on my experience as a teacher, and especially my time spent teaching returning students at the college level.)

  9. Insightful and inspiring text–wonderful to learn about your novel. For me creativity is on a continuum–it has no beginning or finality. I agree that the more we nurture it, the more it thrives.

  10. A great description of creativity. Most of the time I just need to pick up my pen or my camera and take the first step, write the first word, then the next. I’m always amazed when I’ve reached the end.

  11. Hurray for a true happy ending to your novel! And yes, I completely agree that talent has virtually nothing to do with creativity or artistic success. Commitment and effort and practice make all the difference in the world. And playfulness, or joy in the process, is more likely to lead to commitment and the rest than doing things we feel we have to do!

  12. Great post. So true! So true! And what an apt photo to go with the theme of your post. The image is just magnificent! Where is this place, if you don’t mind my asking?

  13. You write, too, Otto? My goodness but you have a wealth of interests and talents. I do agree that creativity cannot be taught. It’s accessed when we’re open to really being ourselves and we don’t censor or compare. I think comparison is what often leads us down the wrong path and we begin to censor our offerings, hoping they stand up to criticism. Your photo at the top of the post has amazing qualities to it. The perspective is very interesting!

  14. “For one thing I don’t believe talent has anything to do with being creative.”
    This truly says it all. Thank you Otto, for another truly inspiring post.

  15. Your photo is like polished silver with gold accents. The clarity is striking and, yet, with all that light, you still created quite an atmosphere. Very impressive. Your narrative touches so many of us because we are indeed “concerned” about creativity; we feel that inner yearning for it to come out successfully. Trusting it is sometimes difficult, but we need to have the courage and determination to test that creative urge and direction. When we do, we will either continue with it and improve or begin a new direction with all the learning that entails. Cogent thoughts, Otto. Thank you.

  16. Otto – thank you so much for this essay on creativity. It is exactly what I needed to hear, at exactly the right time. I have been retired exactly five days, and am committed to get acquainted with my creative self. Your post reminds me of that truth — “when the student is ready, the teacher appears.” In fact, teachers abound.

    Please, add my email address to your list announcing the publication of your novel.

    1. I am glad this post could be somewhat of an inspiration. Enjoy exploring your creative self with that extra time you have gotten now. The book is still a long way in making, but I will add your email. Thanks for commenting.

  17. That photo really moves me! amazing photo.
    I can also relate to your words. Adults should play more often ;-). This would really inspire their creativity.

  18. So glad I clicked on your page! What a beautiful page, mind, creative soul…. you name it! I just put a post out there and I see that you and your page would be just the match for me! I will have to stay in tune with you and your workings! Thanks for what you do!

  19. Your blog entries are a pleasure! How interesting that you write novels, on top of your blogging, photography, and social involvement. Right now, I am working on novel length spiritual quest story, where I followed a dream to the sacred island of Iona in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides. Your linking of creativity with your photo of the monk speaks to me.

  20. I believe in the truth of these words, “Trust your creativity. It will not let you down – if you only have faith in it. ” Faith in what we can do, and what others can do is a big step towards achieving something bigger than we dreamed about. Beautiful picture with priceless words. Thanks for the recent thought and prayers…Best wishes to you and your family.

  21. Godt skrevet … og jeg følger deg i det du skriver. Har aldri sett på meg selv som en person med kunstnertalent, men noe kreativiet finnes det jo 🙂 Og jeg utvikler meg og lærer stadig mer.

    Bildet er både kreativt og stilig behandlet!


    1. Det er ikke så viktig om du kaller deg kunstner eller talentfull. Det som betyr noe er hva du gjør. Og når jeg ser på bloggen din, er det ikke tvil om at du er veldig kreativ. Takk for de hyggelige ordene, Irene!

  22. I, too, am familiar with Julia Cameron’s books and adapted her theories on “making” art when I was teaching art classes to high school students. At times, it seems, we need to read or hear fellow artists speak of the “permissions” that we should embrace in our own creative processes. The struggles and doubts are universal. Your words…”Trust your creativity…” resonate…like the ripples on smooth water they become far reaching…with no end.

    1. I am glad the words resonate. And I think it’s both necessary and nice to have an art community encouraging us to find our way to our creative well. Thank you for the lovely feedback, Jots!

  23. Great blog, It`s very true what you say about about creativity, I find it a great asset as life is never boring if your mind is active.

  24. There is nothing better than getting that creative “high”. It can grab hold and if you go with it take you places you didn’t know were possible. One creative thought can have me going all day and it just gets bigger, like a snow ball.

  25. another great article – i see now that we must trust in our abilities that we can create, we just need to be. be part of it, just doing it and somehow it will flow out. you are a man of many talents – it will be an awesome novel for sure. thanks ☺

  26. Reading your posts is like drinking a tall glass of l imonada on a blistering day!
    thanks for encouraging others who havelost that inner spark or fear venturing out into new waters.

    your novel sounds interesting, and i lookforward to when it’s =shared w/the world!
    (perdon for possible typos – the slow connection half loads the page,and i cannot see what i’m typing!!

    i’ll post,and then see what’s here!

  27. A beautiful image, Otto, with the human element here being really the icing on the cake for me.
    A very inspiring post to keep us all moving along our paths. And I’m hoping to read that novel some day!

  28. You really struck me when you said creativity can’t be learned in the traditional way of learning. That’s true. It really is a gift, this inspiration and vision. Enjoyed this, Munchow.

    1. I don’t think it’s a gift either – that is if you don’t mean to say that all are gifted with creativity before we lose sight of it while growing up. What I mean is that you can’t read a book about creativity or go to school to become creative. You still have to get in touch with your inner self and your creative well, which is only something you can do yourself. You can be guided into that state of mind, though, just like any other spiritual experience. Thanks again for the comment, Noeleen!

      1. Creativity is truly what we can’t creat and we can’t buy because it deals mostly with the spirit man which is you

  29. Your ideals about the creative process are so accurate . A blog I wont forget . Thank you for posting and sharing .

  30. Hej Otto,
    Vill bara säga att jag följer dina blogginlägg både framåt och bakåt i tid. Tycker du fångat kreativtet, skapandets vedermödor och glädjeämnen genuint och äkta med stor insikt och gedigen kunskap.
    Allt gott.

    1. Takk skal du ha, Monica. Det var virkelig varmende ord. For øvrig vet jeg nå hvilket bilde som du vil ha tilbakemelding på – og jeg vil gjøre dette i løpet av de neste dagene.

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