Monday, February 4, 2019

The Value of Living a Creative Life: Resurrecting Your Childlike Creative Self

This post is from a talk I gave over the weekend at the Fancy Little Flea on The Value of Living a Creative Life.

Close your eyes and think back to when you were creating something as a child. Maybe it was the first day of kindergarten when you opened your new box of crayons and colored with them. Smell the new crayon smell. Perhaps it was using finger paints or squishing Play Dough in your little fingers. Or was it digging in the dirt to make roads for your toy cars? Whatever it was remember the joy that you felt in that moment. Now let me ask you...

When was the last time you felt that way? 

Something happens to our creativity on the way to adulthood. Usually, some well-meaning adult convinces us that doodling on our math paper or daydreaming about characters in a story we're making up are wastes of time and we should be doing something more important. This is how we end up as adults believing that some people are just creative and others are not.

I would like to dispell that notion and challenge you to breathe life into your creative heart of hearts even if it's been wounded or asleep for a very long time. The best way to do that is to give yourself permission to try something new. Now if you are a regular reader you know that every year I challenge myself to learn one new thing.

Read My One New Thing a Year Challenge

Now while I understand that might be daunting for some of you, you should give yourself a safe and easy task, because I think if your creative mojo has been neglected for a long time you should be gentle with yourself. Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and sit in your favorite spot in your house and breathe. Don't think that you are wasting time because it is a thing of great value to breathe in and out and appreciate being alive. Feel grateful for this time alone, give thanks for all the wonderful things in your life.

Now think about something you've always wanted to do but were afraid. It can be anything. Braiding a rug, taking a trip alone, painting your dining room a color that you love but that isn't trendy. (Which as we all know right now is white. Or maybe gray if you feel all crazy.) Would the world end if you painted a room pink, or yellow, or plum?

Now, what feeling comes up when you imagine doing this thing you would like to do? You don't even have to tell me because I already know.

It's fear. 

Fear of what other people will think. Fear of failure. Fear that you won't like it. Maybe even fear that you are opening Pandora's Box of creativity if you succeed. Yes, fear of success is a real and very powerful thing. But what if you weren't afraid? Your childlike self wasn't afraid of trying and failing until an adult (most likely in the education system) made you terrified of being wrong. Before someone taught you that giving the right answer was the most important thing and if you didn't know it you should just keep quiet with your hand down. Too many of us have been keeping our hands down ever since.

Imagine taking your little kid self by the hand and telling her that it's okay now. That it's safe and she can try new things and experiment and create all she wants. Because now, you are the adult in charge. How does that feel? 

Now think of the first thing you'd like to do and take action. Sign up for that workshop or -if you're an introvert and creating in a group gives you the heebie-jeebies- find some Youtube videos or call a friend who is good at the thing you want to learn. Maybe you need to take a field trip to your local craft store to get a feel for creative supplies, or to a museum to spark your imagination. Whatever it is it's really important to take action in some way to show your inner creative that you are serious.

Reading some books about creativity or watching talks about it can be helpful as well.  I recommend these books in this order:

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

And these TED Talks:

Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity? 

Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius

Stop believing that the world is divided up into the creatives and non-creatives and begin to nurture and fan the flames of your own creative self.

Coming up in Part 2 I'll be talking about why any of this matters and why you should even care about your creative self.

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