I have, for many years, been a writer. Some might say 20, but I cannot remember the exact year I began to write, and indeed, the process of growing up has been a long one.
I have learned a lot in this time—about the world, myself, and the structures of man all. But mostly, I like to believe, I have learned of myself, and my values in this life—though the process still is ongoing, as it ever will be.
I am an INFJ. The reason I write this is because, no matter whether I may actually be an INFP or an ENFJ (xNFx), I am rare. iNtuitives make up one third of a population of Sensing types, and so this advice may not be for everyone. But as I write this, I wish to be speaking out to those others like myself, who may benefit from the knowledge I hold—and if you are different from me, but may still value it, read on.
For those who write or create from the muse; plan nothing. Your subconscious will show you what you want, what you like, and who you are. If listened to, unadulterated, it will perhaps give you one of the clearest visions of yourself seen in your entire life.
This is something it has taken me many long, and painful years to learn. I went to private schools, and I am, relatively, logical. I am extremely self-driven to educate, and what information I found about writing or making any form of art (though I have always been an Individualist) made sense to me, and thus, through what Julia Cameron calls “the critic,” began to undermine my creative efforts.
In short, I began to censor myself (and you’re not just censoring art, you’re censoring yourself; literally, repressing aspects of who and what you are, thereby stunting your personal development and natural, continued growth toward happieness).
Creativity is not something that can be taught, unless one is taught to follow the paths and corridors of their own heart. The latter is a rather “Jungian” path, and one that would surely—if followed through—lead to enlightenment (whatever your strengths may be). However, it is not what is taught, or reinforced, in mainstream society. I have written prior articles exploring why this could be (please see On the Writing of Books, and The Vital Role Artists Play in Society), and so will touch on it no further, except to say that, in truth, I hold no answers as to why it is—only speculation. And so, for the sake of this article, please accept that it “simply is,” as in my own experience I have found it to be (its cause unspecified, and indeed perhaps from multiple factors).
And so, on the premise of this, creativity cannot—or rather, is not—taught. There are as many different kinds of it as there are people; Thinking, Perceiving, Sensing, iNtuiting… the list goes on, and even then, there is only ever one of anyone in the entire world; of this existence, you are unique.
And thus, creativity, in its vast and duplicitous multitudes, is not taught. What is taught, instead, is technique, rules, and—I suppose—a commonly accepted means of communication. These are the only things that can, under the above premise, be taught. But, in and of itself, it defeats the very purpose of art—which, through reading Jung’s and Joseph Campbell’s works, I am coming to believe provides a very important psychological role in both the individual and the society as a greater whole.
But for this essay, let’s stick to the individual 😉 I have covered society and my idealisms in my aforementioned article (The Vital Role Artists Play in Society).
The means of communication cannot override the story, or the piece, or the meaning. This is wrong. I apologise for the drama in that emphasis, but I cannot stress it enough. Perfectionism tied my knickers in a knot for six long years before I realised this hard lesson, as it is the exact opposite of all that is ever (in my experience of the mainstream) taught. In fact, even after completing Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way,” it took much synchronistic reading on psychology and spirituality to truly open my eyes to the truth of her words—with science, and logic, rather than blind faith. And what she has to say is very accurate, though she speaks of the cure itself, rather than what lies behind it. And, ultimately, that is all that is needed—I only have my long-ingrained complexes to deal with, in my own on-going journey of learning to trust myself again.
But this is the very thing that writing, or creating art, as you were meant to, will deal with. It is an expression of the subconscious; a myth, a dream. Though I am still reading Jung’s work, the symbols it has to express—consciously comprehended or no—are vital to your own / the individual’s personal development. You cannot consciously predict where such a work is going to go; the subconscious will guide you, feeding “divine inspiration,” and telling you, specifically, the author of the work, a story. This story is you, it is of you, and it is what you, the world, or someone else needs to hear—you cannot predict the purpose of art. It may or may not be revealed to you, now, years later, or even in your lifetime.
Art lives beyond you. And thus, its purpose unseen, its audience unknown, it cannot—and should not—be audited. Technique is unique to everyone (I’m sorry Sensing types, perhaps my own life’s experience has leant me bias in this), and you cannot force an artist or other creator to forgo what is a natural learning process self-taught through play and self-exploration (or, in the case of “inspired” scientists, rationality and real experience).
You cannot tell an artist to simply do or be something because others have grown up before them and come to the same conclusion—such things must form naturally, as is the natural course of things in the term of the individual’s psychological development. It is, as in Christopher Paolini’s beautiful books (one of the Inheritance Cycle, I cannot remember which), when the evil King Galbatorix uses magic to force a newly-hatched dragon to grow faster than its own, natural development; causing the poor creature (Thorn) to become awkward, and ungainly; unsure of what to do with itself, or how to manoeuvre properly.
Of course, the truth of these words is that you can, but it will not end well. Not for the individual, and in truth, as I believe, not for their work. An excuse can be made that with no audience or purpose works can become hard to market, and thus unsellable—but this is not so. It is only during the works creation, and while none can truly know the purpose of the work (aside from the creator’s subconscious, or “God”), it will be easy enough to market once the work is known and its perks advertised to the mainstream / other targeted audience.
But, ultimately, works live and breathe on their own. As artists, it is our duty to allow such inspirations to flow through us, be completed, and move on. Leave your ego out of it, and know that—though a work may reflect you, it doesn’t reflect you. It is, as I have said, an aspect, a dream; a message, as seen through reflected mirrors, from many angles. Sometimes it may take many works of art for the individual, or the society—consciously or no—to absorb and learn the lessons such works are designed to teach, and move on in the natural course of their development.
And this, I am coming to believe, is a process similar to what Jung called individuation (if not it in and of itself, by alternate means of the subconscious communicating).
So, I repeat: For those who write or create from the muse; plan nothing. Your subconscious will guide the way, and though you may not know its destination (or worse—think you do, only to be “let down”), it will guide you to what you or the world must know. Listen to the voices that speak, and write down their words. Don’t edit them (beyond making them clearer for yourself / their own message as it is known to you), or change them for others—though they may at times be unspecific, irrational, hold dual meaning, etc… it will all fall into place at the end, or years later, or—for you, not at all—but for someone else, with startling clarity.
You see, a story may be inconsistent, shift, change, and blur, for the piece is in and of itself a metaphor. It has a lesson to teach, through your unique inclinations. And, over time, as your skills hone through practice, and your subconscious learns too, your work will be more technically skilled anyway—as it was meant to be.
The creation of something new, my dear reader, is perhaps one of the greatest dreams you will ever know. I call it a dream, for its arising from the subconscious, and its voice; which speaks in the same language.
So please; follow your heart, trust yourself, and listen to your muse if you are a muse artist – creator. There is much logic, knowledge, wisdom and insight behind doing so.
The Dreaming Sentinel