I discovered Marney K. Makridakis’s work when I came across her newest book Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life. (I loved the book and wrote about it here.) After reading such a unique and creativity-filled book, I just knew that I had to learn more about her process and inspiration.
Thankfully, she was happy to participate in our monthly series — and the result is a whole lot of inspiration below. Makridakis reveals the importance of ideas, her creativity saboteurs and solutions, the power of the rough draft and much more.
In addition to being the author of Creating Time, a No. 1 Amazon bestseller, Makridakis is the founder of ArtellaLand.com, the groundbreaking online community for creators of all kinds. A popular speaker and workshop leaders, she created the ARTbundance approach of self-discovery through creativity, and the ARTbundance Certification Training program (ACT).
1. Do you incorporate creativity-boosting activities into your daily routine? If so, what activities do you do?
I try to keep creativity perpetually at my fingertips. I write lots of short poems and make quick doodles throughout the day, all to keep the creative channel open as much as I can. I also have a 4-year-old son, which aids creativity immensely. It’s amazing how many solutions and resources open to us when we play!
2. What are your inspirations for your work?
For me, it’s all about ideas. Creative ideas are the bright shining lights of our souls. My very favorite part of my work is helping people connect the dots of their own idea-lights, unveiling new constellations that bring more light into the world.
Creative ideas are like little children to me. I feel a maternal instinct to prepare for them, birth them, take care of them, nurture them to growth, and send them out into the world. There is great satisfaction in working myself out of a job, like good parents and teachers do; having faith to put an idea out into the world so it can take on a life of its own, no longer needing me.
Giving myself the time to admire the creative ideas of others, and the space to experiment with my own crazy ideas…those are my sources of inspiration.
3. There are many culprits that can crush creativity, such as distractions, self-doubt and fear of failure. What tends to stand in the way of your creativity?
I used to say that time was what stood in my way, although since writing Creating Time, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to really “walk my talk” and reframe my relationship with time, realizing that we all have far more control over time than we think we do.
So now, I’d say that managing my energy and physical health is my key challenge. I have some ongoing health issues, and I’m also a mom of a 4-year-old, and so there are lots of things that require energy and attention in order to keep my general creative output in tip-top shape. When I’m out of balance, exhausted, or stressed out, that slams shut the creativity valve, and throws everything off kilter.
In order to allow creativity to flow, I have to remember to take care of myself, and put my health and energy substance first. I wish I had realized the importance of this earlier. The best advice I could have given to myself when first starting my online business 10 years ago, would be: “Taking care of yourself is taking care of your business.”
4. How do you overcome these obstacles?
Of course there are challenges in creative work, but when you’re aligned with your passion, the wind is at your back. I keep looking for ways to tap back into the passion, the joy, the fun, the creativity, and, especially, connecting back to the essence of why I started this path in the first place.
5. What are some of your favorite resources on creativity?
Some of my favorite books include – in no particular order – PoemCrazy, Bird by Bird, The Awe-manac: A Daily Dose of Wonder, Zen Seeing Zen Drawing, Art and Fear, Touched with Fire, The Art of Looking Sideways…so many more! Books are so rich.
6. What is your favorite way to get your creative juices flowing?
Any quick creative endeavor, like writing a haiku, composing a 3-line story, or drawing a quick, funky doodle, gets it going. If we just start doodling or writing, then inspiration will usually arrive (sauntering in, fashionably late!) It always helps to remember that creation comes before inspiration, not the other way around.
My ARTbundance™ approach of self-discovery through creativity, which is the basis of Creating Time as well as the ARTbundance Certification Training is based around the concept that these quick doorways to creativity – in ACT, we call them ARTsignments – can redirect energy and ideas in rather magical ways.
7. What’s your advice for readers on cultivating creativity?
To welcome the power of the “rough draft” the first, unedited, totally intuitive layer of expression. Perfect creativity to me is in the imperfection of the first draft. Getting the words, the images, the ideas out in their raw, intuitive form, before they are “polished.”
To me, that defines the beauty of human expression and the creative act. The structure and form may improve with editing and reworking, but as far as process goes, it doesn’t get more perfect than the moment that the first concepts drip onto the page.
Try to be aware of what impedes you from the purity of the first draft, and make that experience as raw and unfinished as possible. For example, I love typing first drafts with my eyes closed, so I don’t even have the option of editing as I go.
8. Anything else you’d like readers to know about creativity?
When my father, who passed away several years ago, told me that I reminded him of the Thoreau quote, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.“ – it was like I found a hidden superpower to get things done.
Thoreau’s words are the best template I know for stepping into creative motion. When it comes to creative goals, it really does help momentum to put a so-called “sequence of steps” out of order and do the things we really want to do before the things that “have to get done.” Then we can get caught up in the joy and fulfillment, and that gives us the momentum to make it all happen.