We live in a world in which it’s possible to capture almost everything we do. However, it’s useful to know when to let go.
Spoiler alert: over the next two blog posts, I’m going to wilfully and knowingly contradict myself. But that’s OK. Life’s full of contradictions. Isn’t that what makes it so interesting?
Today I want to focus – to quote from a songwriter friend – on the art of letting go. Which ties-in with the broader discussion of how to generate ideas and stay creative. Sometimes a fear of missing the good stuff may actually preventing it from happening at all. I’ll explain.
Nothing At All
When I was at school, art was very much my thing. And because I was good at drawing at a young age, there was an expectation that everything I’d do would be of a certain standard. Which in turn became quite inhibiting.
I would sit for hours with a blank piece of paper in front of me, wondering what kind of masterpiece might ensue. As a consequence, quite often I did nothing at all. Which denied me the pleasure inherent in the act of drawing.
Get Stuck In
Thinking too far ahead in this way can be counterproductive. It wasn’t until I reached sixth form and studied under a more progressive art teacher that I learned that it’s OK to just ‘do stuff’. Not only that but I could do stuff and then throw it away.
As a group, we were encouraged to work very quickly, with no ‘corrections’ allowed. We’d be given large sheets of low-grade paper and permanent markers with which to draw. So, there was no choice but to be active, let go of any doubts and get stuck in.
With the knowledge that at the end of the session we would bin our work, we could work without inhibition. This was very liberating and helped to inform my work, later in life, as a composer. It turns out that a lot of what we value most as artists comes about by happy accident.
But you have to put in the time. You have to allow for the weight of activity that will ultimately deliver that rare pearl you are seeking. And it’s OK to discard the rest.
You may think that by not capturing your work – whether it be visual, in sound or physical movement – you may be in danger of losing something precious. However, the act of regular creation means that you are storing up a kind of creative muscle-memory that you will be able to then call upon when needed.
But without complete freedom of expression, you will always be constraining your ideas. In a world in which we are constantly measured and compared, such freedoms are rare. As educators, it is our duty to afford our pupils this liberation. Because, if they can’t experience it through creativity, where else is it going to happen?
Just Let Go
As advertised, I will be presenting a contradictory view in my next blog post. In the meantime, however, get busy, get creative and… let it go.