I am so delighted to have Jill Badonsky on my blog this week as part of her blog tour to promote her magical book,”The Muse is In: An Owner’s Manual for Your Creativity.” I loved having the opportunity to ask her some questions about creativity. If you’d like to hear more from Jill, then sign up for my From Muse to Market interview series and, starting next Wednesday, March 13, listen to my half hour interview with her. Don’t miss it!
Jill, you do the illustrations for your books. How did you arrive at this style and what fears did you have to overcome to create them with such a sense of whimsy and play?
I started doodling just to help me concentrate in classes in high school. Little did I know that this became practice for doodles that later evolved into illustrations… that I’d still like doodles. I did a very simple cartoon strip for my high school newspaper about a hapless bird called Tweep who got into all sorts of trouble.
My favorite part of illustrating is adding humor or running jokes. I have wacky stilllifes running through The Awe-manac and a fish makes appearances throughout The Muse is In: An Owner’s Manual to Your Creativity.
My fear initially was that my illustrations were too simple and childlike. I’ve never had art instruction so I wondered if I was “good enough.” The responses to the illustrations help me get through that, as well as my inner brat who is very influential in convincing me not to care what others think, but just have fun and draw things that delight myself. This worked for my writing as well.
So many of us, when we start a new project, feel so fired up by it that we intend to put in huge blocks of time on the project to get it done…especially if we are working towards a deadline. In your book, you say this is a mistake. Why?
Actually, we are usually more focused when we have a deadline – it’s a good use of adrenaline. But saving our creativity for well intended, huge blocks of time frequently results in huge blocks of procrastination. People underestimate the difficulty of the creative process because having an idea is filled with enthusiasm and eagerness.
The only problem is, enthusiasm goes away when we are face to face with our fears: Am I good enough? Where do I begin? What was I thinking, this isn’t fun? What if I’m wasting my time and energy? Fear turns off our creative centers. Showing up for TV, Facebook or even cleaning the fridge seems like more fun than all the demons that surface in the creative process.
The trick is to begin with small periods of time including five minutes. Chances are you will stay with it longer than that, but one of the best strategies to getting to your creativity is to trick fears and the ego. Plus you will have a huge success experience if you set 5 minutes as a goal and work a half hour, and feeling successful begets inspiration to do more. Another trick is to lower expectations at the beginning. There is an epidemic of being unrealistic about the beginning of a process, which is immobilizing, overwhelming, and no fun. Fun is an elixir of creative inspiration… so have some more of it.
Why is patience, according to your book, a necessary practice for creativity and how are we doing at practicing it in the 21st century?
We have become used to immediate gratification, instant information at our fingertips, and the world is moving at a much faster pace. Creativity has not changed however. It still requires time to collect information, allow it to incubate, give time for connections, modifications, new moments of insight. It requires persevering through the challenges that are normal to any creative process.
The first ideas we come up with are sometimes wonderful but for the most they are not the best ones. Ideas go deeper when we return to them, revise, shorten, expose to other ideas, find other connections. This takes time and patience.
Obstacles in the creative process are normal. Some people think coming up against them means there is something wrong, this is where a lot of people quit. Having patience with this knowledge allows us to trust that we will make it through the doubt, the set-backs, the new information, and the intuitive detours. Letting it go for awhile or simply staying on the path despite the fears, takes patience. Breathe.