Twitter Follow

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Creativity Feedback Loop

If this blog post had a subtitle it would be ‘The Cross Post Experiment’, because in a surprise move I’m posting this not only on this blog, but on my other blog.  Hmmmmm….wait.  I don’t know which blog you are reading this on, so I don’t know of which audience you may be a member.  We just got started, and I’m already confused.

In any event, I’ve managed to post/publish my 6th podcast episode.  If you’ve hear, or better yet subscribed, to my audio ramblings about photography then I thank you.  If you’ve listened to more than one, or if you have listened to them all, then I applaud you and your kindness.  I’m not sure they are worth listening to but I have found them productive to compose.  In the latest episode I talk a bit about my roleplaying, a bit about my photography, and some of the places at which these two creative outlets have recently intersected.  Thus the reason for this blog post and the two places where it appears.

Specifically, this post is about my own, very personal, sense of creativity.  Some or none of the podcast or this post may click for you.  I get that.  This is my own weird head-space and lucky for you I’m the only one that need inhabit it.  My two primary creative outlets are very different in many ways.  Photography has little to do with playing Dungeons & Dragons, and the reverse is true as well, but they do share some commonality in that both are forcing me to create something.  OK, not forcing.  Perhaps they cajole me into it...but whatever the case the result is the same.  I make a photo, and thus I have created.  I play or run a game, and thus I have created.

The same winding road goes to many places...

What I realized this week is that although at first they seem like standalone activities, internally they seem to come from the same, internal source. They feed one another, nourish one another, and also they seem to prod one another from any complacency.  In other words, I have one big pool of creativity, and both of my hobbies tap that well in order to manifest.  Once manifested, they seem to create a sort of feedback loop that refills that well. Initially I had thought that my newfound passion for photography was eeking out my lifelong relationship with Roleplaying Games like D&D. It wasn't. In fact, the opposite was happening with greater frequency.

 It was a bit of a revelation for me.

Perhaps you have already discovered this.

I think that were I a gifted artist (in the sense of drawing or illustration), those two hobbies would have been a natural fit and quite nicely complimented one another.  I see this in my social media friends who engage in both activities.  It’s a gift I don’t have, drawing, and I haven’t got the patience to try to learn.  I think as children we try all of the creative opportunities we are given, but when we discover no natural talent or passion for a particular type of creativity we simply move along to the next.  Perhaps it’s just me, and my laziness.  I know that I was always a bit jealous of my gaming friends who were talented artists and illustrators.  It seemed to me to be a great gift to bring those characters and their stories to life beyond the spoken or written word and into a picture.

My introduction to photography came rather recently in my life, and I don’t really know if I have any actual talent but I do have passion for the making of photographs and that is enough to keep me working at it most days.  Part of me realizes that if I want to create an image, this is going to be my medium.  It likely won’t allow me to produce an image of my latest D&D character, or a monster I have an idea for, or a magic item and such but I derive a great deal of satisfaction in having captured an image I find pleasing or interesting in some way.

Last week during an online game (using Roll20) there was a real feeling of excitement and fun.  The DM (Dungeon Master, for those on the photography blog) ran a great session, there was a bit of roleplay and a whole lot of dungeon crawling and when it was over it left me with a great sense of having participated in creative play.  It had gotten my inner-well flowing, and almost immediately I felt the desire to keep it going by working on some images I had made during last weeks snowstorm here in Philly.  The feedback loop was in effect and strong.  Is the ‘The Force’ all those Jedi keep rambling on about?

Some Gear
My friend Dennis is both an avid gamer and an amateur photographer.  I consider myself lucky to have a close friend with whom I can share both interests, even though we live in different parts of the country.  He’s had both hobbies for a long time, and we’ve never discussed this topic of a creative feedback loop but I would be interested to hear his thoughts, and yours as well.

My buddy and his camera.  Sadly we did not play D&D that trip...

If you are a Photographer, does your creative well spill over into other creative pursuits in your life?  If you are a D&D (etc.) enthusiast does your time with the game make its way into you other creative outlets?


  1. For me its music and roleplaying; my friend and gm its comics / illustration and roleplaying

    1. I can easily see where music & roleplaying would feed one another...even if you are playing music that has nothing D&D related going on (as metal or classical or folk might), the energies seem very simpatico!

      Thanks for reading, and share some of your music, would love to hear it!