The following is an excerpt from my book, Creative Alchemy: Accessing the Power of the Muse to Transform Your Art & Your Life (which I'm hoping to self-publish soon). Enjoy!
Where does creative energy come from and how can we tap into it? Some say creative energy and sexual energy are closely linked. While this is a bit of an oversimplification, it points to a powerhouse of resources that we draw from every day: our life force. This energy or juice—when directed—can accomplish extraordinary things, including (through the sexual act) creating another human being.
How can we access this juice? There are a variety of ways, however for our purposes, we’ll simplify it into four main sources.
Emotional. Some artists are compelled to express deep, painful or confusing feelings through their art. The energy they’re drawing from is emotional.
Intellectual. Others draw from the realm of intellectual ideas, often inspired by the question, “What if?” Day dreaming and imagining different scenes or scenarios playing out sparks the fire here.
Spiritual. Sometimes energy can be extracted from our quest for meaning and purpose. This allows us to infuse it with the larger, more universal essence of life.
Physical. Some forms of art are deeply entwined with the physical, such as music, dance and some aspects of theater. Movement triggers the flood of energy to rush forth.
Sometimes we’ll draw from one source while at other times we’ll draw from a combination of two or more sources that merge and power up the engine of creativity. Much depends on the project, our circumstances and mood.
Limited or Unlimited?
Some scientists argue that we each have a limited allotment of energy available to us each day. Perhaps that’s true, however, I suspect there’s also a way to tap into a universal source of energy that is unlimited. It no longer belongs to us, but to the larger universal collective. Working with the Muse seems to dial us into this infinite source of creative juice as witnessed in the prolific work of many artists who seem to accomplish more than humanly possible.
Creative juice can arise naturally or we can go looking for it. Most of us know what gets those juices flowing, but it’s always worthwhile to try something new. One fun way to get inspired is to try your hand at a completely new form of creative expression. If you’re a writer, try improv or dance. If you’re a dancer, try painting or photography. If you’re a photographer, try singing or poetry. Perhaps you already work in multiple mediums. Then just do something, anything to stir things up. See what makes you a little afraid and take a leap out of your comfort zone. All of these activities can zap you into a more wakeful state and get the juices flowing.
Another tip is to take your chosen creative form, but do it in a way that pushes you to the edges of your usual territory. Switch genres. Use different tools or supplies. If you’ve been hanging out solo, join a group, take a class or initiate a project that requires collaboration. If you’re used to working in a studio, switch to working outside in nature. Used to working in the suburbs? Spend some time in urban settings. Again, this is about injecting fresh energy into your creative life.
You can also offer to teach your craft to those less fortunate. Volunteer at a prison or a hospital or nursing home. View your creative life through the lens of someone in a challenging life situation and see how that touches your own life, how it impacts your work. This can be heart opening, and an open heart can bring forth lots of love-infused juice.
Follow the Energy
Energy doesn’t lie. Few of us pay attention to it except when we have too much or too little. Both have consequences, forcing us to see that we’re out of balance.
Let’s imagine, for a moment if we truly tuned into our energy levels, and based our output around that. This would require us to observe how we feel at various times of the day and evening, noticing when we feel the most inspired and motivated and when we feel depleted or in need of rest. To really tap into the well of energy that fuels creative projects, we need to get to know how to prevent ourselves from burning out, so that we have plenty of juice left to carry us through the inner imaginative realms.