Ad Astra day 2: Unleashing your creativity

Panel: Karina Sumner-Smith; Alyx Harvey; Judith Hayman; Leslie Hudson; Sally Headford

SH: If you walk into a grade one class and ask, “who can sing?” everybody raises their hands. Ask, “who can dance?” and the same thing happens. By the time they get to grade six, children have learned the standards and expectations. Only a few of them raise their hands then.

JH: Take risks. Make mistakes. No one will know the difference.

SH: How do the writers on the panel deal with those standards and expectations?

KSS: I have groups of people who read my work at various stages. There are readers for the roughdrafts, then later, beta readers. You have to have a terrifying level of trust in your readers. Seek out your “perfect” reader.

LH: If someone says, “you suck,” it can shut you down. How do you deal with that?

KSS: Chocolate and wine.

LH: We are our own worst critics. The worst are the notes I leave for myself.

Q: As a visual artist, I have to be able to evaluate a piece on its own terms. I benefit most from honest, constructive, criticism. What do you prefer?

KSS: Sometimes I need people to be honest. When I’m feeling vulnerable, I need comfort and tea.

SH: When you get to a low point, what do you do?

LH: Walk the dogs.

KSS: Five-minute dance party.

SH: I need oxygen.

JH: I need repetitive tasks. I’m on the autistic spectrum.

LH: Napping is awesome. You fall asleep and an idea comes to you in your dreams.

KSS: I find creativity breeds creativity.

LH: I’ve gotten into mandalas in a big way. I like needlepoint. Or reasearch.

JH: We’re all a little bit insane. When we enter flow, it’s a sacred space.

SH: I think of it as an alternate reality where creativity exists.

JH: I enter into my creative space with visualization.

LH: You have to protect your creative time.

JH: My day job is easier. It’s structured. At home, it’s different, more challenging.

AH: A day job takes a big chunk out of your day.

Q: Do any of you find you have to make yourself create?

LH: Absolutely. Sometimes you have to tell yourself to sit down and write, honey.

AH: Yes. Do the work.

LH: Sometimes pressure is good. Deadlines motivate.

Q: Do you find having a creative community or space helps?

JH: February Album Writing Month. FAWM. I participate every year.

KSS: NaNoWriMo.

Q: When do you sleep?

SH: It’s incredibly important.

KSS: In your day job, deadlines dictate what you do. I’ve read a health study in which people who get one hour less sleep per night over a seven day period were found to perform worse than people who were drunk. Health studies are fun.

SH: The current work environment is terrible. Multitasking is a myth.

KSS: One in one hundred people can actually multitask. Odd are, it’s not you.

AH: Where do you get your inspiration from?

JH: Everywhere.

KSS: Compost. One day my blender broke and I thought, what if society was built around items that worked on magic instead of electricity, and they all started breaking?

AH: I love my I-pad. If I see something, I snap it.

SH: Too many things can get in the way. If you don’t have a way to capture your ideas, you’ll lose them.

KSS: You can use prompts, or themes.

LH: You train yourself to notice things.

JH: Folklore is the basis for my current song-a-week project.

Q: Is creativity about finding ways to work around our disabilities?

SH: Creativity is part of human culture. It’s part of our history.

JH: Creativity is a process, not a product.

AH: Enjoy the process!

LH: People think that if you’re an artist you have to be miserable. Or that there’s a link between creativity and mental illness. Schizophrenia. Bi-polar.

JH: When I’m feeling manic, creativity is a saving grace.

Q: How do you deal with falling short of your vision?

AH: Let it come out the way it wants. If you force it, your won’t be a s successful.

KSS: If you don’t like it, you can always do it over. Accept it if it’s part of your process.

And that was it.

I have to note, in case you find some of these sessions ending abruptly, that many of them ran to the last second and only broke up when the next group entered the room. Thank you’s and closing remarks were often lost in the shuffle.

More coming tomorrow.

Off to watch Orphan Black now. Clone club!

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