On Creativity: Multiple Crafts

I have recently been thinking about how creativity manifests itself in different people. How these people choose to interpret their ideas and inspiration and turn it into a piece of art. And I soon realised something very important (and amazingly obvious):

I have rarely encountered an artist who isn’t pursuing multiple crafts.

I myself have never been one to only engage with only one form of creative expression. I call myself a poet, an essayist, a creative non-fiction writer and an editor just as easily as I would call myself a novelist or storyteller. Whilst some may say that these all fall under the one creative mode – that is, writing – it is clear to me at least that each of these forms requires something vastly different from me.

So, I am always interested to see how my creativity is channelled into each of these endeavours, and how often I find myself engaging with each of these forms at any given time.

Those who have known me long enough (read: five minutes) will easily tell you I have a particular interest in novel writing, that this is my passion and I will pursue it as long as I reasonably (or unreasonably) can. However, I often find that this particular craft is difficult to stay singularly engaged in. I am always ‘writing a novel’ but I am not always writing a novel. Sometimes, I find myself in need of a break from it in order to maintain creative interest and work I am genuinely proud of.

You may think this to be writer’s block, the thing that kills creativity stone dead without hope of resurrecting it. I can’t call it that, because it’s not true at all. When I get stuck in my novel, it is not for lack of ideas, it is usually for an over-abudance of them. So I switch crafts, channel my creative energy into something different for a while. Poetry, first and foremost, is my remedy for so called ‘writer’s block’, the thing I turn to when I am struggling to see my characters through their current predicament. For the first half of 2015, all I did was write poetry in a bid to reconnect myself with my creative energy. It was my ticket back in.

I wrote some pretty great poems, and I wrote just as many duds, but I was always writing. It was this constant working on one of my multiple crafts that got me wondering if I could write a novel as richly worded and fulfilling as my poetry had come to be, as true to the world I was building with these small sets of lines. So I moved between my crafts once again. And then again to essays and creative non-fiction when the right ideas struck. I was, and still am, careful not to let my hand sit still on any page for too long when I lost myself in one form. I simply shifted gears creatively.

I have many talented friends who are constantly moving between their multiple crafts – playwrights who are also actors and poets, watercolour painters who edit literary journals and scribble small sets of words in notebooks, fiction writers, journalists, dancers, songwriters, screenwriters, vocalists, slam poets, comedians, spoken word artists, directors, designers, novelists, theatre performers, essayists, every imaginable craft. I never fail in my excitement to see what they will do next, to see the many things they will add to their list of crafts. These people are so committed to creativity that they simply can’t let it alone. They must create.

There is a common misconception that any creative person can only have one true craft, that all others must be secondary or else non-existent. But as many of my creative role models, friends and even my own experiences have shown, an artist is simply someone who is passionate about creating, no matter the form. Having multiple crafts that they pursue without hesitation is a miracle of creativity that allows artists to constantly be working at the things they love.

And that is something to celebrate.

© Hayley New 2016

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