Larry Mullins

October 9, 2010

Creativity: The Ultimate Secret revealed

For many years I have made a living as an illustrator, graphic artist and by creative writing. I have taught many classes on creativity. I have told a few people the ultimate secret of creativity, but never published it until now.

When people would ask me, “How do you draw a picture?” I always responded with a question. “What is your telephone number?” A bit puzzled, people always responded with their number. I then would always say the same thing: “What was it that looked for that number, and where did it find it?” Of course, they can’t answer. The truth is, no scientist, philosopher or theologian can answer that question. We have no idea how the mind works. We do not know where the drive to create comes from, nor how it successfully manifests.

We do know that there are two stages to creativity: the inspiration, the gift, or the idea, is the first stage. Everyone gets inspirations. Lots of them. It is my belief that the most lofty of these ideas come from God, or more precisely, the Universe Mother Spirit. There is no problem with finding noble inspirations, normal human minds are invaded by them constantly. It is the second stage of creativity where most of us stumble. As T. S. Elliott put it, “Between the idea and the reality … falls the shadow.”

The ultimate secret, the difference between a creative artist and the average person is very simple. The creative artist shows up. Every single day. At the easel, the writing desk, the kitchen, the nursery, or the classroom. They show up, and they struggle to actualize worthy ideas into realities. I have no idea how the creative process works. I only know that if I show up, most days a miracle will occur. My role in this process is solely to cooperate with the mysterious flow and strive to follow guidance I am given. Some days I fail utterly. But some days are glorious, and even though I am only a small bit player in the whole process, I love it. because I know that, for some reason, the great Creator has endowed us with the power to allow the creative process to work, or to stop it cold by simply not showing up. Showing up is an important victory for me.

I can offer one other “secret” that works for me. It is based upon the advice Jesus once gave to a messenger who was to carry an important message. Jesus told him to carry his message fearlessly, joyfully. Because “… this night an unseen messenger will run by your side.” So, I greet each day thankful for a special angel who, along with other unseen friends, I imagine is at my side assisting me in my efforts.

To some, I realize these notions may seem especially over the top, perhaps even crazy. I remind them of the admonition of Zorba the Greek: “A man [or a woman, of course] needs a little madness, or else he never dares cut the rope and be free.”

Dare to cut the rope.

Larry Mullins