Following your Muse down the rabbit hole

Its officially Spring, and the beginning of every potter’s crunch time when it comes to productivity.

I got my first wholesale Christmas order this week. As I wrote it down in my order book (highly non-sophisticated tracking system that I employ), I got to thinking about productivity.

Productivity is a very concrete economic concept that seems to run counter to the mysticism of creativity. But being in the business of creativity means I don’t have the luxury of not being productive when the creativity is running thin.

How then to make sure there is enough in the bank of inspiration when the production demand cranks up?

At the heart of my practice are two seemingly diametrically opposed actions; play, and hard work.

One of the things I love most about making pots is the chance to try new things; the novelty of a new idea or direction. Usually these moments of creative inspiration come when I am working on something routine.  In that instant, the specific energy of a new idea is almost palpable, but I know it will be fleeting too.

Some people call it The Muse, some Big Magic1, some a journey into the quantum realm2. No matter the name, I have my own personal rule: Follow that thread down the rabbit hole of “what if”. Right then. Before it flits off.

Sometimes it’s a minute or two before I realize the idea was sh*t. Sometimes it’s a full-on time warp that consumes me for days. But allowing the energy to manifest in the moment when it is most alive is critically important.  I believe it is from this vortex that my best work emanates.

The upshot of this is the interruption to normal workflow.  Most potters have production work; established designs that provide their bread-and butter sales/income. But if I don’t generate the work, I don’t get paid (Mauri Mahi, Mauri Ora – do the mahi, get the treats). Time spent away from production, frivolously romping through the daisies of new ideas, does not equal doing the mahi.

As Britney says, “you’d better work b*tch”.

The next few months, as always during this time of year, will be a show-up-and-get-sh*t-done fest, with the productivity machine in overdrive.

But I’m certain I’ll manage to carve out a bit of time for giddy play too.

1: Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert, 2015
2: Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, Dr Joe Dispenza, 2012

Throw Pots Not People is a fortnightly column about life, creativity and the world we live in, written by Taranaki artist Marita Green.You can follow Marita and her creations on Instagram.