I was mulling over the issue of creativity the other day when I recalled a time in my childhood, a time when drawing on sheets of ruled notebook paper was a satisfying playtime event. Many evenings you could find my brothers and I spending time at the kitchen table doing this, laying out diagrams of fantastical moon bases or subterranean realms. (Yes, it is indeed amazing what we did for entertainment in the age of “three channel TV” with no personal electronics!)
Anyway, as I was saying…we would create intricately sketched worlds, realms that would ultimately fall prey to some flawed nuclear reactor or a gun-laden spaceship suddenly crashing from the skies. Our mighty metropolis would descend into a roiling, cataclysmic fog of scribbles, accompanied by our own explosive sound track, containing spittle-laden variants of “ka-boom, ka-pow” as well as a few “ka-whooshes” for added effect. At the end of it all, nothing much would be left of our creations, except pieces of paper, rumpled, perhaps torn, and most definitely saturated with sticky blue ink, ground-in #2 pencil and a few permanent markers of varying hues. The resulting debris laying on the table would be unrecognizable to all, except to those of us, who for a brief time imagined a fictitious race of beings, capable of building and destroying on a grand scale.
It is true, the resulting of all this activity produced nothing presentable for the public, but for a period of time it exercised the hell out of our creativity. Sometimes it seems to me that one of the barriers to being “creative” as an adult is the acquired mindset to avoid creating waste. Most of us learn over time to be prudent with our resources. We remind ourselves to avoid mistakes, to keep things tidy. As artists, its important to allow yourself a periodic respite to forget about making something and perhaps, just generate trash. Its OK to spend a day creating and at the end of it, just shred it. (Spittle-laden sound effects are optional of course..).
As a photographer, I always have days that I go out and, well, shoot nothing but trash. I think that is OK, keeping the artist alive inside means that sometimes we may spend our time producing a bit of creative trash.