We have to keep pulling our triggers for joy if we're going to make it through life. Engaging in creation that's uniquely appealing to us isn't something to be shamed. If listening to a certain album made us happy yesterday, and we want to feel that same feeling again today, then we make no qualms about pressing play. Same goes for our creative work.
MOTIFING — Engaging in guilt free creative projects that are uniquely appealing to you
Patchett, the bestselling author, famously explained that all of her novels are actually the same book. If you review her catalog, each title tells the same story of strangers who are thrown together by circumstance and form lasting connections. Despite different settings, characters and dramatic events, she's always retelling the same story of her own family trauma and how she coped with it. Subconsciously, the author says, that's the single subject she keeps untangling and unpacking with each novel. Isn't that an inspiration? Anne is widely successful artist who is taking ownership over her own creative redundancy. She doesn't care if she's writing the same book over and over again, because some feelings need to be experienced over and over again. Some stories need to be retold many times.
Stretching myself as an artist is critical for me. Constantly seeking out new, unusual and complex forms of personal expression is an absolute joy. Creating projects each year that never would have crossed my mind previously is what keeps me motivated and feeling alive. However, my fear of repeating myself also seems to be diminishing with age. The chilling threat of creative redundancy, which triggers my allergy to not being special, it's not as pervasive as it used to be. And that's a healthy place to be. Giving myself permission to indulge in whatever makes me happy is an important part of growing up.
Novelty is not always what you need. Once isn't enough to make things stick. You have to keep hitting yourself over the head with the same question in order to find better and better answers. What's your favorite motif to repeat over and over in your work?
Overcome your fear of being redundant and just make things
Strike a healthy balance between novelty and repetition in your work
Give yourself permission to indulge in whatever type of creating makes you happy
Develop a motif, rhythm and signature that you and your audiences know and love