…or the art of being a sponge.
Frequently, and by various different people doing numerous jobs in the creative field, I have heard the advice to basically observe and absorb as much of life as you possibly can. Read everything you can and as often as you can is a top tip distributed by those as the top. Read the news, know what’s going on in the world. Read novels, read plays, read screenplays, read poems, read the backs of cereal boxes and read all the cooking instructions so you don’t kill yourself and can make a piece of instruction-based experimental theatre in the future.
Watch films, watch people, watch plays, watch dance. Go to gigs, go to parties. Go for walks, go travelling. Open yourself up to soaking up as much of life as you can absorb and then sit in your room and write about it. Or draw it, or get together in a room with other people and devise around it. Or point a camera at it.
Being creative sure takes up a lot of time. In fact, it’s a life. I think every creative person will agree with this statement – truly being a theatremaker, writer, artist, filmmaker, novelist, poet or whatever means allowing that thing to wholeheartedly take over and become your life. Yes, you’re allowed friends, lovers, family, but there will be times when these disappear to become background noise as an idea pounds in your brain.
To be creative is a full time (and I mean 24/7 kind of full time) job from which you cannot switch off. You must allow time to observe, to absorb and to process. You must then allow time to make notes, to form these notes into some kind of coherent thought and idea in your brain, and to then allow this idea to take shape. You must then allow time to create the work. After this you need time to market the work – get it an audience and, generally, you also need time to hold down a part (if not full) time job. Time to feed yourself, wash yourself and to ensure you don’t destroy your personal relationships whilst allowing all this time for your creativity.
The art of being a sponge that soaks up as well as being practical is a tough one. All that advice, however, about reading/watching/absorbing is absolutely spot on.