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.
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:
- Teaching a workshop based on the book Creating a Life Worth Living: Career Design for the Creativity Inclined by Carol Lloyd.
- Facilitating young people telling their stories through oral storytelling, theater, writing and digital storytelling as a teacher and then program director for the arts education nonprofit, Streetside Stories.
- Coaching and training clients and friends to share their writing on a blog, or in a book.
- Helping creative entrepreneurs, writers, and artists realize their big vision for their work in the world through trainings and one-on-one coaching.
- Interviewing healing artists for the Arts and Healing Network’s podcast.
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.
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.
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:
• 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.