The Creative Detox.
Odd turn of phrase, yes, especially hearing it so early in on the year. A detox from being creative? A break? We’ve just come back, surely that defeats the purpose of everything we’re doing right now?
Whatever our feelings were of it before, they changed as the day progressed. There we stood wearing our baggy bottoms, loose tops, and skepticism on overdrive as we all wondered exactly why we sat stiffly on the floor like nursery children before story time. It wouldn’t matter soon after. Mandy Wheeler arrived, and we kissed our fleeting doubt goodbye.
She was right. We all needed a detox. We were forcing our inner creative out, bending and changing them to fit rules and regulations we placed on ourselves. It turned simple exercises like pointing at objects and giving them different names, akin to doing nuclear bomb detonation blind.
‘The people that find this the most hard are the creative.’ She said, ‘They’re too busy trying to be creative, because that’s what they have to be. But that’s not how it works. The minute you free yourself from what you think being creative is, you’ll find yourself being better at it.’
I won’t trudge the details on too much, but what she said was basically this: everyone is creative, it’s a natural thing within all of us. But we are young creatives going into a competitive field with our own personal perceptions of what should and shouldn’t be done. This limits our ability to come up with new ideas and hinders our ability to create.
We all want to be funny, and different, and unique, and new, and original, and inspiring, and envied, and thought of as brilliant. But sometimes striving so hard to be those things is limiting. The world according to Mandy? Free yourself from what you must do, and just go on and do it.
We spent the day exploring this simple yet foreign theory of hers. And again, she was right. Everything was easier when you just set yourself free to do and say as you pleased. It was more than advice. It was stone cold truth served up with psychological evidence to boot.
But it wasn’t just the importance of opening yourself up to everything and anything. A little less than halfway through the day we discovered the brilliance of offering and bouncing off of ideas through the power of basic improvisation. According to Mandy, it’s one thing to just make ideas, but it’s another to keeping them flourishing.
Two words: ‘Yes And’. All of us were coming up with ideas faster than we knew we could. Like a snowball down an icy hill, building up on imagination, fun and acceptance to grow. Sure, sounds cheesy as all hell, but it works.
Again, as before, with meticulous accuracy she explained how being susceptible to an idea and just rolling with it was a better way to be solve a problem. Opening yourself to the possibility of more is just as important as the initial start of an idea.
We did this part in groups, and watching all of us lose our self-imposed inhibitions we’ve been nursing since the first year was a sight. One of the exercises was pulling things out of an imaginary box and responding to your partner’s observations. Again something so simple, but it managed to be something so hard.
But we pulled through and, though I can’t speak for everyone, I can say I felt like a weight I never knew I lugged around was removed from my person. It was more than just a radical one day workshop. It was eye opening.
You’d think being a creative 24/7 would be easier being us. I’m calling it for me. I was blind by my conception of it all, but now I feel freer to just create.
That’s what it’s all about anyway.
Thanks Mandy. Julie-Ann Robertson