Do you have a creativity wound?

In preparation for an upcoming interview for the online radio show, Creative Spirit: Connecting Art and Soul, I was asked to think about: 1. When did I first view myself as creative, and 2. Why do many people think of themselves as not being creative?

For me, the two questions are intertwined. I didn’t think of myself as a creative person until about a year ago. Why? I felt like the things I created weren’t “good enough” because I didn’t receive praise for them and/or I wasn’t able to make a living from them. The equation I began to play over and over in my mind was: Create stuff – money – no praise = I’m not creative.

Selling paintings at eight years old

I think this was a “show” (in a parking lot) from a painting class when I was eight or nine. We were only allowed to paint replicas of greeting cards (lame!).

Like many of you, I was creative as a child. I wrote and illustrated my own stories and shared them with my classmates; sang, danced and acted in school plays; created radio dramas with a friend that we recorded (with sound effects) into a tape recorder; drew maps of whole towns on looooong sheets of paper with another friend and made up stories about the people who lived in them; took lots of photos; went to painting class and dance class and pottery class and piano lessons. You get the picture.

As I got older, teachers, “experts” and I added each creative medium to my not good enough list. In response, over the years I turned my creative energy towards helping other people with their creative dreams by:

While I loved all of this work, I still had an insatiable urge to express my creativity, even though I told myself over and over again that I was here to help other people be creative, not to be a creative person.

happy flower

One of the first photos I took during Collecting Color

My breakthrough came about year ago when I took Andrea Sher’s e-course, Treasure Hunt: Collecting Color. Each day, Andrea would send out a photo prompt (e.g. take a photo of a flower, a splash of red, color at your feet). I would take 1-5 photos with my iPhone based on the prompt and upload them to the course’s Flickr group.

I loved it.

Just loved it.

I loved looking for something to photograph every day. I loved taking the photos. I loved playing with Instagram filters to make the images pop. I loved scrolling through my photos and reveling at all of the colors and flowers and birds and bugs I’d captured. I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t add that I also liked getting likes and nice comments on my photos when I posted them on Instagram, but mostly I enjoyed the process.  It brought me joy.

Intuitive painting in process

Intuitive painting in process

And just like that. After 45 years, the equation changed: Create stuff + joy = I am creative!

Taking Chris Zydel’s intuitive painting class also increased the strength of my new creativity equation.

The process of writing this post made me realize that I’ve spent a lot of my life chasing creativity, feeling like it was out of reach when in fact, it was always there waiting for me. It just needed a different frame: one of joy, rather than of aspiring for external affirmation.

Writing this piece has also made me realize why I created my e-course, Just for the Joy of It: 30-Day Creativity Practice for Busy People:

Just for the Joy of It: 30 Day Creativity Practice for Busy People• To help me continue to be creative just for the joy of it (I’m a big believer that we teach what we need to learn ourselves).

• To share what I’ve learned in the hopes that it will be a healing framework for other folks’ “creativity wounds” too.

If you feel comfortable sharing it, I’d love to hear to your creativity story.

8 thoughts on “Do you have a creativity wound?

  1. Suzie Ridler says:

    Wonderful! And I can’t believe you even illustrated your own stories, major kudos to you. And that photography course searching for colours… It’s so true, there is so much out there to help us be creative. I’ve been trying to let go of the creative + money thing too and am trying to learn to have fun for the first time in my life.

  2. Jadyn says:

    This so hit home for me! I am turning 33 today and signed up for a watercolor class just last month after wanting to paint for YEARS. Thanks for sharing your experience, it is great to feel your joy and to feel confirmed in my own journey. 🙂

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