As an artist, I hear on a pretty regular basis something that goes like this:
“You’re so creative…I wish I could be creative.”
I never know what to say.
To single me out as “creative”, as if it were a rare anomaly amongst humans, always shocks me because I believe that the desire to make and create is fundamentally human. It is intrinsic to our nature.
Creativity exists within all of us.
I just read a great article by Dustin Timbrook, an artist and educator, regarding the subject of creativity. This quote sums my thoughts up perfectly:
“Artists are not magical geniuses. We are simply people who were either privileged enough or stubborn enough to hold onto something that every living person is “gifted” at birth.”
To every person (there’s a lot) who I encounter who denies this aspect of their humanity, I want to hug them and pat them on the back and whisper in their ear:
“You are creative. You must journey within to find the creativity and break it free.”
Then, I would say some cool Yoda stuff and we would get in touch with our internal creative forces.
Renaissance Revival is my embrace for the creatively defeated and the creatively empowered (they need encouraging hugs too!). I want everyone of us to recognize we all possess special talents that allow us to create soul fulfilling art. All we need to do is practice creativity.
And before you say, —- “Wait…I don’t for one second believe that we can all be Picasso’s and da Vinci’s!”, I would agree with you. We are not all “artists” in the classic sense. We all have different interests, strengths and talents, and it is up to each individual to find what those are and use them in a creative capacity.
Look at your life and see what already interests you. What is it that you love doing more than anything in the world?
What is it that you love doing more than anything in the world?
Most likely it involves creating on some level. Do you like coming up with your own recipes? You are creating thoughtfully prepared, delicious food for people you love. Do you like gardening? Gardening also requires a great deal of creativity. Computer programming? Yup, you guessed it. Creativity galore. Let’s continue to think outside the proverbial frame! Do you like to write funny twitter statuses? Doodle? Build models? Decorate?What about knitting? Do you like to fiddle around on an instrument? Make stuff out of wood? Take pictures with your smart phone? Repaint old furniture? I could go on and on.
If you do something that requires creative problem solving in action, you are a creative person.
Look at your life. What are you already creating?
Let’s talk about another deterrent to creativity.
Creative fear is crippling.
Sylvia Plath said it best, “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Trying to create something is difficult for ANYONE no matter if you are an artist or not. There is a pervasive fear that the end product won’t turn out how you expect it to, or that a mistake will be made, costing time, money and, let’s be honest, ego. Often the fear of potentially unhappy outcomes rob us from the actual reward- which is the act of doing the creative task, and NOT the final result.
You see, when you are truly motivated to nurture your creative side, you take joy in the process, and if the project blows up in your face, you know the experience, in and of itself, was beneficial and it won’t prevent you from attempting it again in the future.
And of course, there is the age old adage that ‘practice makes perfect’. This is hard to grasp because we live in a society that wants immediate gratification. When we try something for the first time and it doesn’t work, we get discouraged and quit.
This is so devastating! So many creative endeavours are written off because they didn’t fulfill the desired expectations the first time around. Ever seen cake wrecks? I’m willing to bet a lot of those are first attempts. We all want Pinterest worthy outcomes when we attempt something creative, but let me tell you, it is a full-time job to make those pictures look that way. Trust me. I know.
…You still might be saying:
“Naomi. I’m REALLY, REALLY NOT CREATIVE.”
And I would ask back…. “Do you want to be creative?”
Because if you do, then use your imagination (which I’m confident you possess) to think of something you’ve always wanted to make, or something you’ve seen another person do, and thought “that looks like fun!” It doesn’t have to be the typical “arts and crafts” route either. Expand your creative horizons. If you have any desire to create, then let your imagination run wild, and read on.
How to be creative:
1. Make a list of every creative thing you’ve ever wanted to try.
Pick the one that excites you the most. Google, YouTube, Pinterest, read a book, find a teacher or take a workshop on the creative task you are willing to attempt. A little research goes a long way.
2. Make sure that you attempt creative tasks that are suited to your skill level.
It sounds obvious, but if you are a beginner, start at the beginning. If you can build your creative training progressively, you won’t suffer from the educational frustration and burnout that overwhelms those who jump ahead of their experience level. Learning new stuff can feel overwhelming, so for your first attempt at a creative task, chose a scaled down activity. Smaller projects are easier to learn from and easier to complete, which will induce a desire to continue building on your newly acquired knowledge.
3. While you are immersed in the task, ask yourself if you are truly enjoying the experience.
Weigh if this creative experience is something you would enjoy doing again, and then, disregarding the end results (good or bad), you’ll know whether or not you want to keep pursuing it. Sometimes, it takes a few attempts to figure out. Don’t give up on the creative task until you’ve given it a fair chance.
4. Find what you love to create and devote yourself to it.
Find time. Make time. When a person suppresses their creative urges they are suffocating a vital part of their psyche, which, I think we can all agree, is harmful to a person’s health and happiness.
In an upcoming post, I will be sharing how practicing creativity can actually make you happier and healthier.
For now, if I could preach, it would be a one word sermon: