It is always difficult if you have a dream to share that with someone in the hopes that it may one day come true. A dream or ambition is a private thing – it is the fantasy of your mind, the culmination of your heart and soul, something to strive for whilst forever speculating its reality. And when you dare to tell someone about it, you open yourself up to criticism. If by some amazing series of events you make steps towards achieving this dream, there is always the possibility that it will crash and burn, destroying your hope and forever marking you as the one who reached too far.
Sometimes, however, all the moves are in the right order, the stars are aligned, and that dream is but a hairs’ breadth away. It is something to do with ‘creative flow’ – that feeling when everything just falls into place, almost as if you are not in control of your life, but it is just happening, wonderfully and naturally, around you. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi said that “When we are involved in [creativity], we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life”, and this is reflected in the ‘buzz’ we get when ideas are coming thick and fast, but have some substance more than just musings. Csikszentmihalyi expands on his views of creative flow here.
I am currently at the very start of a creative project with a good friend of mine. I am not going to divulge any details, as we are not yet ready to reveal our plans to a wider audience. However, what started as a wistful longing and hypothetical ideal is quickly becoming a reality – through discussion, open-mindedness, and intellectual thought, we are beginning to lay the foundations of a practical and doable dream. It may be because all my creative energy has been so sharply focused into this project that I have neglected to write anything for almost a month, despite feeling that all too familiar itch to type away. Initially, it seemed a little hard to sift through the myriad of concepts and come up with a clear format and goal. Once this had been done and a focus found, it was as though a dam had burst and the vision made itself wholly and wonderfully accessible.
Creativity can never be forced. In the film Bright Star, a dramatisation of John Keats’ life, the poet states “if poetry doesn’t come as naturally as leaves to a tree, then it better not come at all”. This is true for all forms of creativity, whether it be something as literal as poetry, writing music or novels, or a little less obvious – the construction of an essay requires a creative structure of words, and an attention to such details as punctuation and syntax. It must be as though your subconscious takes over and directs the rest of your body and thought. Of course, this is not always practical. An encroaching deadline has no sympathy for the person who just ‘didn’t feel it’, nor does an awaiting public care for the playwright’s recent stint of writer’s block. What is important, then, is to find a stimulus – not to force the work, but to rather engage with the wall. A few months ago I wrote about the issues and frustrations of writer’s block, and how the act of acknowledging the issue led to breaking through. Think of it as sticking a pen up that clogged tap – it takes a few jabs, but eventually the blockage will loosen and the water will once again pour out. It takes time, it takes dedication, but if you have a dream or ambition (or deadline), it is an invaluable realisation.