I had always assumed that to be an artist, one must live an eccentric lifestyle, in a constant state of disarray and chaos, which seemingly lends itself to the creative process in some way. To me, artists were free-thinking bohemians, who lived without fear or convention, utilizing art as a form of communication with the society they had stepped away from. As though the creative process condoned and fostered, living in the liminal.
I, myself would not define myself as an eccentric, though I am sure there are people out there who would debate this. For as socially-outward as I may appear from time to time, with an air of intensity, I am an immense introvert.Coming from a family of eccentrics and creatively-minded individuals, I intuitively took to the background and became an introvert. I also spent a large amount of time preoccupied with order, because it didn't seem to exist around me. My family even used to joke with me about my obsession with cleanliness and organization, because at five years old, I was already color-coordinating my closets and redecorating my room, every couple weeks. They were the kind of people that took their socks and shoes off wherever they felt like it, and left them. I was the kind of kid, who needed a designated spot for everything.
As I got older I realized my creative abilities were nurtured, only when I allowed for a disruption of the order I had created. I couldn't concentrate on writing for long-periods of time, if I allowed for the distraction of clutter, chores, or errands to clog my mind. I needed to find a balance or routine, between chaos and order, that worked for me.
How I found this balance, was by joining a low-residency, MFA program. At first, I was hesitant to go back to school, being under the impression that I wasn't going to learn how to write better by being told how to write better, but by practicing it on my own. "True writers, write out of necessity above all", I would say. But I was lacking structure, and every routine I tried to stick with, just fell through with procrastination or duty.
Now that I'm involved in this program, I am really glad that I gave it a chance. The program has definitely provided a structure for me, requiring deadlines every month in pages. Forcing me to sit everyday and get the work done, even when I have piles of laundry, if it's a beautiful day, or I just don't feel like it. I am writing everyday as second-nature, without even contemplating whether I have the time. I now make the time.
By having this sort of obligation to writing, as a form of work, I thought it would make me lose enjoyment for one of my truest passions. But what I have noticed, as I turn out more and more pages, I have gotten so caught up in the story itself, that I look forward to getting back to it with each day. And at night when I am finished writing for the day, I am still thinking about "what comes next" in my manuscript. It's definitely a wonderful space to be in.
As a child, being an artist was living with "no rules", painting outside the lines, without a care in the world. But to be a producing-artist, I found that it's a whole other creature. Something I learned I could be, by balancing routine and free-flowing creativity. Right now, I have to say, life is good.