Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Creative Marathoning

I know a lot of long distance runners, which is a pretty weird thing since I am a sprinter (in the sense of being willing to run short distances to catch a bus). I guess I got jealous of all of the training and the runner's high my friends described, and thought, there must be some way I can get the same effects doing something I love.

So, I started doing creative marathons. Marathon is really a misnomer here, because the event is more like a Creative IronMan. It requires stamina as well as inspiration, since it is a 12-hour event in which participants devote an entire day to creating in any way they choose. The goal is to create 20 original pieces of work in one day, in one or more creative disciplines – it might be 20 songs or 20 paintings, 20 quilt squares, 20 poems, 20 photographs, or 20 of anything! It’s amazing what great songs and art can be created in these sessions, and no surprise that some truly awful songs and art also get produced. And that’s all part of the fun.

And, it's also part of the point. Often, we are held back from creating by the voices in our head that say, "This is no good. It's not working. I can't do this." During a creative marathon, those voices usually get exhausted and give up, freeing each participant to create work without editing themselves. This is usually accompanied by giddiness, euphoria and an 'anything goes' attitude: the creative's high.

At the end of the marathon, participants can organize an optional potluck dinner party and show some of their work: I encourage people to share the work they like the best and the piece they think is the worst and/or funniest. In a context that makes creating feel like play again, we open ourselves up to our creativity and delight in our own and each other's abilities and talents.

I try to plan the marathons to take place near an equinox or solstice, but they are notoriously rescheduled. I welcome people to contact me to join in on the next one, which will take place on June 19, 2010 - or organize their own. The idea for these marathons was inspired by the book, “The Frustrated Songwriter’s Handbook” written by a Nicholas Dobson and Karl Koryat, a couple of members of the Immersion Composition Society. Visit their web site and/or buy their book; you'll find lots of great ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

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