I recently finished Alan Arkin’s memoir, and in it, he talks about an improv workshop he teaches. He always starts off telling the group not to be creative. They’re going to throw an imaginary ball around the group, but he doesn’t want any cutesy, attention-getting antics with the ball. He just wants people to throw react as quickly as they can. Throw the ball in two seconds. That’s it. Then they move on to other kinds of balls—beach ball, maybe, or volleyball. Then other stuff. Maybe a squirrel. By the end, the group has started reacting creatively, but without self-consciousness. In removing the attempts at creativity, the real creativity is unleashed.
When I read this passage, I thought about the opening of the Bible. In the beginning, god created heaven and earth. God is creative, and when God made humans, they were made in God’s image. Now, whether you take this story literally or not (I don’t), you see that that it serves to illustrate our creative nature. When we pursue our art, we live from the source of our most godlike nature—free of demons, full of creative energy.
Soon, I’ll be leading a special interest group on block. Writers’ block, I guess. Which is something I don’t really believe in. The only thing that can block a writer is the writer herself and her Demons: Fear, Pride, Greed, or Envy. Remove those things, and you can’t help but be creative. It’s human nature.