The Curse of Creativity
What is it about creativity in all it’s forms? As humans we are drawn to it from an early age. From as early as possible we adore scribbling and painting, moulding playdough and making sandcastles. We create….. huge piles of papers and box art, all too precious to be thrown out with the recycling!!
But then something happens… Somewhere along the way we learn that what we are creating is not only meant for our enjoyment and pleasure but to entertain and please others. Why is that? What makes us start to place more importance on the feedback of others than on the feeling of satisfaction that we feel within us once we have created something beautiful?
The essence of creativity is that it is unique to each individual, but, over time we start to believe that a certain “way” of doing something is the better way, the right way. Maybe it’s the style of graphic design or the brush strokes on a painting, whatever it is we start to look around us for recognition and in doing so we begin to look at what other people in our creative field are doing. We become more than just inspired by someone else’s work – we begin to compare!!! And comparison is NEVER a good idea! Comparison just leads to one big, dark hole of despair and nothingness. Yup, that’s right – no creativity at all. Just self doubt and condemnation which have never inspired creativity in anyone (except maybe Van Gogh’s earless self portait??)
Now there is nothing wrong with appreciating the creations of others, in part we do create for others to enjoy and feel inspired by. But we will only do ourselves and our creativity harm if we begin to focus on the pleasure of others before that of ourselves.
I have come to experience this first hand through putting my creativity out there on my blog. I started Becoming you as a creative outlet for myself to express my creativity and interests (writing and photography). This is not unlike someone who takes up crochet or jewellery design on the side as a hobby. It begins slowly and is fun and enjoyable. You do it because you LOVE it! After a few people start to take notice you realize that maybe, just maybe, you have found the holy grail of 21st century work / life balance. You can do the thing you really, really love to do (which you are currently doing as a passion project without pay), you can work in your own time and you can actually convince people to PAY you! WOW sounds awesome! Who wouldn’t want to live life like that. Being creative, loving life, making money while still having fun. But, that is where things start to become less fun. The pressure mounts, deadlines loom, people have demands and expectations, advertisers, stockists and customers appear and suddenly things aren’t so rosy. Overwhelmed is one way to describe how you start to feel. You sit down with good intentions to write or design and get side-tracked by the ever growing email inbox (and usually you don’t even reply!), you triple check your Facebook newsfeed, endlessly peruse Pinterest, you head over to a random celeb gossip site or, worst of all, you pop over to a competitors site to see what they have been up to while you have been wasting your time being terribly unproductive! All these crazy stalling tactics are designed to do one thing – keep you away from being creative. Your unique talent going to waste while you compare yourself to someone else’s unique talent! What exactly are you achieving besides just making yourself feel worse and ultimately even LESS creative?
So, how do we fight this battle that afflicts all creatives everywhere (otherwise known as Writers Block!) We force ourselves to fight the feelings. Feelings are essentially good, I don’t advocate fighting them all the time, BUT what we don’t need is to always base what we do on how we feel. If we did that we would never get anywhere. A friend recently said that if we wait until that “creative feeling” hits we would never be creative. We actually have to make time just like with any other job and force ourselves to tap into our creativity. Turn off the computer and phone and sit down with to start writing a paragraph for your novel (you can always go back and delete later if you need to). Pick up your pencil and begin to sketch any item you can see. Plonk down at your piano and start tinkling on the keys. While you are making yourself open and available to your creativity you are more likely to stumble across something great than when you are sitting on the couch feeling sorry for yourself and doubting your skills! Just start! I did that today with this very post – I stepped out of the box and just started writing something, anything that came to my mind. The editing came later but the very fact that I sat down to write – something I have been avoiding for a while – and came away with something original and unique to me was a revelation! I encourage you to do the same. “Just do it” as some might say.
Without any feedback or recognition from others we enjoyed our creativity as children. We loved it for what it was. Sometimes a frustrating process but always one with many benefits – learning patience, harnessing a skill, quieting the the world around us and relishing the final product. We need to learn how to be creative again. To still the doubters (mostly in our own minds) and to develop a love of creativity in our own children. One that remains a passion, one where they don’t discover the desire to please others with their work but only to please themselves!
I agree with this great quote (see some more inspiring quotes on Pinterest here). It takes courage to express a part of yourself to the world and it takes courage to push through and ignore the negative aspects of the process. We all long to connect with the part of ourselves that creates. When we do, we soar! What are you waiting for?
What do you do as a creative outlet? Do you find you struggle with being creative on demand? How do you encourage your kids in their creativity. I’d love to hear you insights and input on this topic so please feel free to leave a comment below…
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