Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Spotlight Interview: Earl Storm/Part 1
Earl Storm, Creativity Coach, Certified Artist’s Way Facilitator, Cartoonist
Earl Storm is a cartoonist and creativity coach in the San Diego area, as well as a certified facilitator for The Artist’s Way workshops.
After a successful graphic arts career, Storm took up cartooning and ultimately created the internet syndicated comic strip, Quack City!, in which he uses a wacky duck as a whimsical vehicle for social and political commentary.
He’s been a passionate teacher of The Artist’s Way since 1995, offering classes and creativity workshops, as well as doing corporate training, and has, as you’ll soon see, some interesting and innovative insights about the creative world. With a New Age approach, he’s definitely a different voice in the wilderness.
To find out more on Mr. Storm, please check out these sites:
Here is the first part of my exclusive newsletter interview with Mr. Storm:
Mike: How would you describe the beginning of your creative career?
Storm: I flew by the seat of my pants. I didn’t have the tools to keep my creativity grounded and focused. I was doing the work. But there was such a tremendous amount of drama and intensity and struggle about it. It got to the point where I was working against the enjoyment of putting the work together.
Mike: How did you move beyond all that counterproductive chaos and confusion?
Storm: For me, the critical pathway was Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, first by reading the book, then by taking the workshops. It made me look at my life overall, not just my art—to look intimately at people, places, and things that support my life, as well as things that do just the opposite. I took a lot of self-inventory. And all this helped me to begin freely creating, helped me discover myself as an artist. This doesn’t happen instantaneously, mind you. It’s an ongoing process that continues to this day.
Mike: So you believe strongly in self-reflection as a tool to unleash one’s creativity?
Storm: Absolutely. It’s a mandatory ingredient. It should be done daily. This is what the “morning pages” (a stream-of-consciousness burst of free writing the first thing in the morning) are all about. It’s there that you can establish a relationship between you and your art, a safe place to be perfectly honest with yourself. That’s the key: to stay true.
You can find out so much by listening to your inner voice and writing down on the page by hand, not a computer, what you hear—the good things, as well as the bad. Whatever flows out of the pen rests on the page. It can be anything. Trust the pen going across the page. No agenda. Without judgment, correction, or editing. The self-criticism. The self-sabotage. The self-annihilation. The patting on the back. Things you’re doing well. Things you’d like to do better.
It allows you to dig deep into the nooks and crannies of your life and see where you’re working for and against yourself. This is a great entry point for a day creating your art. Whatever flows out of that pen will help you move past your creative problems. It clears out the mental clutter and opens pathways for ideas and action
The morning pages are a great place to scream and dream.
Mike: What should we understand about writer’s block?
Storm: First off, remember that all creative blocks are temporary. It’s part of the creative process. It happens sometimes. But it still takes some work to get through them.
People want a silver bullet, a magic formula. But there is no such thing. No one answer. We’re all different and we all need different things to stimulate, to generate our creativity.
You have to find out what tools best support you. And do it consistently, practice it. See what resonates in you, what will keep your art alive and move it forward.
One thing I would suggest, though, is immediately start looking at the world with more of a childlike lightness and playfulness and exploration. Instead of sitting there stewing, working against yourself, try just letting it all go.
If the writing is too difficult at the moment, do something else creative, even if it’s for five minutes. Just to stay connected to that creative part of you. Do something that’s not writing but that reinforces the writing. Just to keep those juices flowing. To keep churning your feelings into creative fuel. That five minutes could make a big difference. Those five minutes could expand your mind incredibly.
You can also work through your block in the morning pages. Ask yourself questions on the page. Why am I blocked? Why is it difficult for me? What can I do to work through this? You’ll be amazed what you come up with.
Mike: Would you recommend simply stepping away from your art and quitting for the day?
Storm: Quit is an extreme word. I’d say, take a day off sometimes. Take the heat off yourself and do something fun, adventurous, unproductive and even uncreative. This will allow you to fill your creative well. To give you the necessary time off to refocus, reframe and revitalize yourself and your creative energies. You can’t live your life constantly telling yourself to do, do, do, and produce, produce, produce. You will soon discover how time outs give you a refreshing perspective to projects at hand.