No matter how much I prepare, mapping out my project, getting inspired, setting up the tools and resources I’ll need, following my creation, scheduling time, doing what works for me, and so on, surprises seem to come up along the way. You probably have plenty to teach me when it comes to rolling with these changes. I know how many artists are more laid-back than me, never seeming to be flustered by the things that would threaten to derail me.
It’s in these moments that I’m glad to be an improviser. Being able to wing it, to make it up as I go along — especially when I improvise with ease — becomes my best bet in these situations.
The trick is learning to trust my own skills and intuition. This trust takes both courage and practice. Yes, I know that it sounds counter-intuitive to talk about rehearsing improvisation. Yet, it’s standard to do so. Nearly all improvisational methods use games, structures or forms, and practices. (If you’ve never experimented with improv, it may be time to get to a playshop or untensive.)
Improvise: neuroscience or spiritual connection
This trust can extend to times when things are working just fine. The improvisational mind is a work of genius that can inform us consistently. Charles Lamb and others have shown the dramatic impact that playing improvised music has on the brain. Using these same sorts of spontaneous responses in the midst of an art project can provide us with what he describes as “dissociation” in the frontal lobe that is necessary to the creative process. That’s why trust is so essential: trusting the technique and talent we know that we have allows us to “dis-engage” fully in the process of creating. In other words, we let our art “happen”. One of my mentors described this gift of improv as allowing the divine or Spirit to flow through us when we perform improvised music. Whether you are drawn to the ideas of neuroscience or spirituality, improvisation offers an important avenue to complete creativity.
So, if you encounter doubt … or certainty … in your art projects, I invite you to consider improvising. I’ve found it to be a fantastic way to engage with my creativity.
How about you? What allows you to get through the times that could derail your creative projects?
Best wishes for your upcoming projects in the new year and any time.