Imagine a bunch of kids in a backyard football game. They play for the pure fun of the game. The game is not a means to an end–just a pleasure in itself. None of them think about the status and wealth that comes to the most gifted athletes. They play because it’s fun to play. The kids abandon all thoughts except the game itself, losing themselves in the moment of the action.
How can an artistic personality bring an attitude of abandon to his work?
- Lose track of time. Set up your schedule so you have some blocks of time to just hang out with your work. Find an afternoon or evening where you don’t have to think about the next thing coming up in an hour. Even better, set up a regular time. “Every Saturday night I stay up late with my sculpture work.”
- Lose yourself in space. Find a comfortable place where you feel good doing your work. That place might be a typical work area, such as a library or home studio. It might be an unusual place, such as sitting in your car in the park, or on the steps leading up to the attic. Find a place where you can get lost in your work without interruption, even if that means negotiating some spatial boundaries with others in your home.
- Lose yourself in the work. Produce without worrying about marketability. You can decide which finished pieces you will send out into the public later. First things first–just work and forget everything else. Your imagination has enough material most of the time. It only needs you to struggle through the hard work of choosing, creating, revising, and finishing.
Give your imagination some freedom, let it run off its leash for a while.
- A poet who is stuck might try to write the worst poem possible, or she might try writing a love poem to an earthworm.
- A musician struggling with an intense piece of music could try playing a few lines backward or in a silly rhythm, just for some comic relief.
- An actor might parody himself, or imitate his cat performing Shakespeare.
- A novelist could imagine a plot where a large rock is elected prime minister of Canada, and how that would bring about world peace. Or perhaps a story where scientists discover that the number eighty-two doesn’t really exist.
- An artist could draw cartoons of giant forks and spoons having a dance in the kitchen.
Though these are silly suggestions, there is a serious side to the attitude of abandon. Sometimes the intensity of artistic work makes a soul miserable. Sometimes a creative person holds to tightly to her project. She tries to hard, worries too much about outcomes, and suddenly the joy of the work turns into resentment and harsh self-criticism.
For the artistic personality that feels discouraged or stuck, letting go with the attitude of abandon can help break up the ice around the imagination. What are some things you can do to grow the attitude of abandon in your creative endeavors?