People create in one of two very different styles. Both produce wonderful works of art and literature. Neither is better or easier – simply different. Although one may appear to be in control throughout the process, even these creative people sometimes listen to the Muses and follow their direction.
One style requires much planning and mapping of the project. For example, a writer will sit down and outline her entire novel. She knows where her story starts and what happens in the middle and where it all ends. Usually somewhere in the process her characters will “come to life” and make some changes, but the outcome is already determined, and the story will unfold according to the author’s plan.
The other style relies on the artist being inspired. Often there is little or no planning stage. Some people describe the creative process as something they have no control over – they feel driven to write or paint and cannot sleep until they start working on the idea “given” to them. Writers may speak of “only being the typist”. The story is told to them by some unknown entity – often referred to as the Muses.
The Muses were daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory. The nine women brought out the best in people they befriended. Poets and writers claimed they recorded the words the Muse spoke to them.
Artists may also be inspired by real people, who they call their Muses. Picasso is one of the best examples – with a long list of women who fired his creativity for a time, then grew cold and had to be replaced.
In either style, the creative work usually comes alive – helping the process along. Michelangelo “saw” his statutes in the marble before he started working. His sculptures emerged from the stone as he chipped away. For writers, the characters come alive, make decisions and act in ways totally contrary to the author’s ideas.
Here is one of the classics for the visual artist who works with her Muse:
Courting the Muse – trying to catch inspiration from the heavens – has driven many creative people to drugs and alcohol. They try, sometimes futilely, to find the “correct” state of mind to connect to the Muses.
Julia Cameron in her amazing book, The Artist’s Way, suffered from her misguided attempts. She found other ways to reach for inspiration and helped many artists find peace of mind in their work. I cannot recommend her book enough. She has several other books available if you wish to continue the journey with her. There always seems to be a group at my local college working through one her books.