Creative Magic

You may have noticed that this blog of mine has been titled Creativity Is within Us All. It’s not only something I have put there (look to the right), I truly have faith in it. I do believe we are all creative beings—as long as we are willing to uncover our creative abilities, which lies within us. It takes courage. It takes faith. But it’s there. This is how I see it metaphorically: the universe hides gems deep within us, and then stands back to see if we can find them.

Sometimes these gems reveal themselves without any effort from us. Sometimes it takes a lot of work to uncover one. When it happens, however it does, when a sudden idea out of the air appears for our inner eyes, it feels like magic.

Elizabeth Gilbert—the bestselling author of Eat Pray Live—does think it’s magic. Literally. In her book Big Magic about creative living, she writes: “I believe the creative process is both magical and magic.” She believes our planet is inhabited with ideas, as disembodied, energetic life form. These are ideas can only be made manifest through collaboration with a human partner.

“When an idea thinks it has found somebody—say, you—who might be able to bring it into the world, the idea will pay you a visit. It will try to get your attention. Mostly, you will not notice. This is likely because you’re are consumed by your own drama, anxieties, distractions, insecurities, and duties that you aren’t receptive to inspiration. […] But sometimes—rarely, but magnificently—there comes a day when you’re open and relaxed enough to actually receive something.”

Personally, I don’t quite believe as literally in ideas as real life forms, but I think, as a metaphor, Gilbert’s description gives a way of understanding how creativity works. It’s the way it feels when we are struck by ideas. As something, that just comes out of nowhere to be grabbed.

It’s up to us what we want to do with ideas that come our way. We can ignore them, we can think it’s too hard to follow through or we can say yes to the idea and make something out of is, however hard it’s going to be. For Gilbert the point is really how you embrace the ideas. She suggests to cooperate fully, humbly, and joyfully with the inspiration. You may not achieve success or make a living in your creative pursuit, but if you welcome creativity into life as such, enjoying being creative for itself, you will thank creativity for having blessed you with a charmed, interesting , passionate existence.

Another quote from Big Magic: “I believe that inspiration will always try its best to work with you—but if you are not ready or available, it may indeed choose to leave you and search for a different human collaborator. This happens to a lot of people actually. This is how it comes to pass that one morning you open the newspaper and discover somebody else has written your book, or directed your play, or released your record, or […]”

Whether or not you believe in ideas literally as life form is not important. What is important is to act on inspiration when it arrives. Not wait until better times. Not postpone until the idea is fully developed. Not put off until a better idea comes around. Not delay because you don’t feel ready.

Are you ready to act on inspiration when it strikes?

70 thoughts on “Creative Magic

  1. An inspirational post about an inspirational book. Well – like you I want to handle it as an inspiration. But I love this kind of thinking – because we don’t really know…do we…
    Acting on inspiration is both good and bad…you have to be prepared to accept any kind of outcome. Many times there just is not room for that – because you have to make certain choices in your life…where some of them means a great responsibility for other living beings. I hate irresponsible people. So – as much as I would love to act on inspiration…I hate when people do and sacrifice others on their way. What do you think?

    1. It’s never acceptable to sacrifice others. On the contrary, I think if we can use our creativity to benefit others, that is the best kind of creativity. In the end of course, it comes down to what you mean to sacrifice others. For instance, to not do what others expect of you is quite OK, as long as it’s not expectations built on something you have initiated.

  2. I believe creativity is just another aspect of who we are as human beings. We all have the ability to use our creativity, but unfortunately many have not tapped into that part of themselves for whatever reason, and I dont think that’s a bad thing. It may just be that it’s not the right time for that person’s journey. But once they do find that creativity “gene” or whatever it is, I do agree that it feels like MAGIC. There is nothing really to explain when you’re in that creative space and producing ART. It just feels right.

    1. I agree, sometimes one is not ready for the creative journey. But I often think people hold back because they are scared of the unknown that being creative involves, and thus don’t experience how magic it actually can be.

      1. But fear or being scared is part of the journey in life. People dont do a lot of things because of fear. We, as artists, can only share our joy and experience. But we cannot force someone else to be creative. It kinda goes against the whole point actually. They are not ready. But, through you photos, your words, maybe fear subsides in those who are at the ready…at the starting line. I think sharing our ART and reminding others that they have that part of themselves too is all we can do, should do.

        I realize we agree here. That’s kinda funny actually. 😁

  3. Elizabeth Gilbert’s a little ‘out there’ for me, in a variety of ways. I’m not even sure I agree that art emerges from ‘ideas’ — but don’t ask me to argue that, because I haven’t yet been able to articulate it clearly even for myself.

    What I do think is that we take in, on a continual basis, bits of experience, observations, sensations — all the raw material the world has to offer. They exist in our subconscious like bits of glass in a kaleidoscope; creativity means giving that kaleidoscope a turn, so that the colorful bits rearrange themselves into a new pattern. From this point of view, creativity means a willingness to be receptive and engaged, as well as being willing to keep turning the kaleidoscope. If we don’t give it a turn, all those pretty bits just lie at the bottom in a heap!

    1. Truth be told, I think Gilbert is a little out there, too. But she has a lot to say about creativity and creative living that I find inspirational. Your idea—no pun intended—of our subconscious being like glass bits in a kaleidoscope, is good, and that being creative means turning that kaleidoscope. However, I am not sure such a pure rational understanding gives a fully picture of what creativity is. I see that magic that Gilbert writes about, although I am not sure it’s magical.

  4. ‘Are you ready to act …..?’ That is an important question indeed. Inspiration is not enough in itself. It is necessary to develop the technical competence to mould the idea when it emerges. There is no short cut to success. The creative arts involve hard work.

  5. Great article and photo to go with. Creativity: we are so privileged that we can apply as much or a little as we feel able to. For me, now , the need to create waxes and wanes and I now do not feel guilty of bad when it is on the wane…what a relief to be less driven!

  6. Not sure I agree with Gilbert either on a literal level … but who knows how the universe works? What I *do* know is that for creativity to flourish, you have to be open to its possibilities — and you certainly teach us how to do that through your writing and your photos.

  7. I think it means we are ready to open up our mind of anything that can inspire us.. That is when creativity raises. Most of the time, we may not let ourself to see them consciously or unconsciously.

  8. I used to design hats….. I had a book where I quickly sketch any design that comes to mind. I stopped “safe designs”, and went for edgy designs. I didn’t know I had it.
    Thanks Otto, you just inspired me….

  9. Someone told me once that an idea is sent to three people. One person will be too fearful to follow up, another will want to use it only for greedy purposes. But the one who is successful with it is the one who uses it freely. I’m not sure if that is how it works, but I do believe that more than one person receives the same inspirational idea. And I agree with the comments that encourage us to move forward with that inspiration and not let fear hold us back. A beautiful picture to accent an interesting post.

  10. I, like most of us, I’m certain, have a lot of responsibilities both within my family and community engagement. Even though I’m fortunate to have choice in these matters, and I find what I do fulfilling, I need frequent refreshment. I devote some amount of time every day to either practicing my piano, baking something original or working in the garden. Even if it’s only for a very few minutes. In other artistic pursuits, I’m not all that talented, but I love to play and experiment. I think we need to give ourselves permission to think as creatives, even when our demonstrations are not as obvious to others. It’s what we feel inside. I really enjoy what you share on the topic of creativity. You have a wonderful way of encouraging creativity to take root and grow!

  11. I have an ex-husband who was consistently predicting technological advancements years before they happened. He was talented enough to have implemented their creation himself, but probably never got around to it because other ideas kept flowing from him…

  12. i read that book, but felt she made it too cumbersome and difficult by the end… have you seen her Ted Talk on it? it’s good… there’s a funny story about Tom Waits in it 🙂
    i have had ideas stolen from the collective consciousness… i know they are alive, lol

  13. I love the idea of discovering gems that represent our creative endeavors. It is up to us to either simply marvel at these gems, find a way to cash in on them without seeing their true value, or to actually explore each gem and find our hidden potential. Perhaps we may also choose to pass the gem off to someone else? There have been times when I’ve been inspired by others. Fascinating point of view, Otto. I see what you have done with many of your gems, and I’m constantly amazed by your creative energy. ❤️

  14. Shameful plagiarism or just Inspiration? 😔
    “Creativity Is within Us All, and I do believe we are all creative beings, the universe hides gems deep within us. The idea will pay you a visit, to do with ideas that come our way, the point is really how you embrace the ideas, enjoying being creative for itself. you believe in ideas literally as life form is not important”.
    oh well, I have No Idea!! 😉

  15. While reading your post, I felt ready to “act on inspiration when it strikes”…by rearranging several powerful words from your article, then I did express and throw my instant “inspiration” (or plagia 😉 hence the title on my comment!) out there, that way.Last, I enjoy a lot Splash of Color on picture 🙂 …

  16. I totally agree with you Otto. But I think the problem lies in people’s inability to understand ‘creativity’. Many think it only refers to a creative art like painting, pottery, photography, sketching and so on.

    Creativity, to me, is the ability to see beyond the obvious. “Think outside the box.” Create anything that is pleasing to the eye……or to the Mind. Your Mind can be colourful and enriched with an experience or idea (of any kind). Your senses of sight, taste, smell (and so on) can be expanded to really enjoy each experience. I remember one night some 35 years ago when I cooked a simple Barramundi fish. It was perfectly cooked and lightly salted. Tangy with the scent of the sea and the lemon juice I had squeezed over it. Each mouthful was tender and melted on my tongue. I ate slowly and Mindfully. It was an exquisite taste sensation. I had a similar experience (with the same breed of fish) only about 3 weeks ago. That to me was Creativity. It was a feast for the eyes, taste, smell and Mind. After finishing I sat in my chair for some time remembering each mouthful and how succulent it was. I wanted the smell of the Fish to linger in the room for a while too, so didn’t wash the dishes til later that night.

    A friend expressed it, when she said to me last year. “I’m so envious of your creative ability.” “You can paint, draw, create a cosy room, hang a picture, pottery, craft, tapestry, arrange flowers, garden, sew, dress (well, not that so much now I live on a frugal pension – I live in the same 2 sets of clothes LOL), cook……..even place the food on a plate so its pleasing to the eye and appetising……you even did your office work in a creative way.” I was flattered do doubt. But I also thought she could have improved, or expanded her own Creativity. Her words had part of the answer to her own perceived lack of Creativity. She made all her own clothes and had a beautiful home and yet, she could not see her own Creativity.

    She was too bound up in her inability to be satisfied with herself and abilities. She wanted to be someone else, when all the time she had many of the qualities she so admired in others.

    People think some have talent, or are creative, and they are not. Not true. We can be taught to ‘see’. In most cases, its about slowing down your lifestyle a little, giving you the opportunity to take notice of the small details around you.

    Ask yourselves the questions, why do you like what you see. If you can expand your thought process in regards to the Why, How, When – what works and why does it work, then you can start improving or expanding your own Creativity.

    Some great selling artists don’t necessarily create in the traditional way, but have the insight and creativity to tap into a market. Create what people want to buy. Use their creativity in a business sense. They have the ability to channel ideas into marketable and profitable careers, but they can’t draw or paint a simple apple.

    They are just as creative as someone like myself who can serve an appetising plate of food in a room lit with brilliant light or brilliant ambience.

    1. I totally agree with you. Creativity does not only relate to classical art forms, but yes, can shine in every day life, at work, when cleaning up and so on. And I think you are right in that many don’t see their own creativity because they don’t understand the diversity that creativity may unfold into. Thanks for sharing your own experience. Reading about your dish with the Barramundi fish made me all hungry. 🙂

  17. Dear Otto,
    it’s a great topic this creativity, indeed! Actually, we suppose that creativity is a way of life. Our experience is that you need others to be inspired, creativity seems to us a result of communication. Well, therefore we are blogging 😉
    Wishing you an easy weekend
    The Fab Four of Cley

  18. I can’t say I really go along with Miss Gilbert’s perspective, or the somewhat related new age “law of attraction”. But just the same, consider a quote from Arthur C Clark, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” What goes on in our minds is pretty advanced technology – whether we call it creativity or magic is really just semantics. Whatever we call it, we might as well enjoy it and take advantage of it when it comes around. In that respect, I do agree with Miss Gilbert.

    1. I don’t it really matters what we call it. We all have different ideas about how creativity works, but I still think Gilbert’s underlying words that we need to chose to act and chose consciously to be creative are wise words.

  19. There’ snot much to add at this point, except to say that creativity always resonates as a topic, which is interesting in itself. Today I was reading about a metaphor for creativity, which is that one can think of it like the sun, always shining, but sometimes obscured by the clouds that are our thought processes, negative emotions, etc. But underneath, it’s always there. You can learn to watch for the clouds, and help them dissipate.

  20. Can’t add much more except to say that I resonate with her views about seizing creative inspiration! Also, this image – you were at Burning Man? When? We had discussed going this year, one day I will! Intriguing image, the patterns of color drew me in instantly!!

  21. Another deep and important post, Otto. You say it well in that “we are all creative beings” and I think it is everyone’s responsibility to find where they can express their creativity the best (photography, drawing, work, sports, teaching, cooking, etc…). Embracing the moment in whatever it is you are doing is a way to train yourself to act on creativity.
    For me, I love my work because every issue that arises I get creative with a solution…often it doesn’t work, but there is “fun” in trying. There are opportunities to be creative everywhere in life, to be excited about, but it is never easy to convince yourself to act. Every time we do not act, to let the creative juices flow, it is a missed opportunity in making us better. In making the small world around us better.

  22. Such an inspiring post Otto and beautifully written. Totally agree with you, especially about the importance to be available for creativity to be part of our daily life. It changes the way we see the world and the flow of ideas is constantly renewed, magically or not.

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