Well, Time and my Muse are both fickle entities of the most elusive kind. I seem to have let slip of both and find myself facing the start of summer with still lots of unfinished work to be completed. That’s the Time aspect. Time can be managed by better planning and organising.
The Muse is a different kettle of fish, albeit the Muse is neither kettle nor fish. The Muse is sneaky and slippery. One minute She is there; the next gone! How to manage the Muse is a problem reaching back infinitum. I guess I am not the only artist to suffer from the absent Muse syndrome. Neither the first nor last artist to suffer from her absence. So how can an artist reign in her Muse?
The first thing to do is pretend Her absence is not noticeable. Pretend the Muse is only in the next room, waiting or preparing for ‘The Big One’. This is the point where I sarcastically say to myself “I wish!” before continuing with my ‘capture the Muse’ tactics. It’s a bit like dealing with a sulky child. Except this one is our ‘Inner Child’.
The next thing is to commit to a daily practice of creating, with or without the Muse. She won’t like that as the Muse can be full of Ego at times. In fact I have often thought that if the Muse was a tangible humanly presence we could identify, by use of all our senses, then she would be born under the sign of Gemini. Her twinned personality defined by Ego and Spirit. So commit and create without looking for completion or appraisal. Once the commitment is undertaken it will get easier, as long as the last sentence is adhered to. The creation does not even have to be ‘good enough’ nor even finished. It only has to be started. Make a mark. Write a word. Sew a stitch. Take a photo.
Follow up by making a start without thinking. Dispense with Kipling’s ‘six honest serving men’ What? Why? Where? When? How? Who (for)? because they will cast doubt if sought out in the beginning. Keep the ‘serving men’ for when the Muse returns. She’ll make good use of them then. So make a start. A short time period is good because short means less time to think. The thinking can come later. Break the creative workout into steps and try to only do one thing then move away. Leave it until the next day. Give the Muse an opportunity to come back at every stage. The first step will lead into the second step whether you push it or not. Subconsciously we will be digesting the mark we made and will instinctively know what the next mark should be, albeit time has passed between the two. Don’t leave it more than 24 hours though between marks. I mention ‘marks’ as I am an artist of the painterly sort. If you were a writer you’d write a few words or a sentence. A textile artist would perhaps do a few stitches. A photographer, a photo. Whatever kind of artist you are use the tools of your trade, the ones you are most comfortable with. Let’s work on those steps.
Step One: Take a colour and apply.
Step Two: Make a shape
Step Three: Walk a line around, over or through the ‘Creation’
Step Four: Add/do something different.
Step Five: Repeat one of the first four steps
Step Six: Repeat two or more of the first four steps
Step Seven: Rest, use the senses (Look, Listen, Feel, Taste, Smell) to adapt or add. Rest.
Some people believe that God made the world in seven days – surely we can create something in seven days. It doesn’t need to be perfect or finished.
Whatever has been created is done. It does not need to justify itself nor do we need to justify or define ourselves by our results. This exercise is practice whilst we wait for the Muse to return. If she doesn’t return after seven days it does not matter. We can have another week repeating the seven steps. It only takes a few minutes a day of commitment but you may be surprised at how change comes about within ourselves and what we create. Don’t be surprised if you find the Muse comes rushing in during one of the stages, especially if you are repeating the weekly process.
It’s Monday ….. I’m off to start working on my steps………
ps: I think I will write this up as a workshop programme.