Do you consider yourself to be creative? For years, I would have said no. But it wasn’t the right answer. I just wasn’t responding to creative impulses. I brushed them off. Because I wasn’t creative in the ways I saw others around me being creative, I put myself in the non-creative category.
I didn’t really stick with piano lessons as a kid. Clearly I wasn’t a musically creative person. When I’d get prompts in creative writing classes, writer’s block would immediately set in. My biggest challenge in art class was landing on on what to paint, or how to approach it. Deciding I wasn’t creative seemed like the obvious conclusion to draw. But I wasn’t stuck because I wasn’t creative. I was stuck because I was afraid. Or at least intimidated. Or uninspired, which is kind of like detachment, which is a common response to fear.
Now I’m finding that being creative requires open-mindedness. I get ideas. I get hunches. We all do. When we are open to them, we get even more. And then we get to choose how to respond to them. When I’ve let myself follow my creative hunches, it’s not like everything turns out great. I’m still not a good creative writer, painter, or piano player. And when I say I’m not good at piano, I really mean that I don’t know how to play.
I’m finding that following the hunch is just the start. It’s an invitation to try something. I’ve made some real ugly-duck projects on my attempt to allow for a creative side (the yellow and white curtains I first sewed are coming to mind), and I know that’s going to continue to happen. Ugly-duck results are disappointing, but they’re not scary. So even when I respond to something creative, and make something that doesn’t live up to my vision, that doesn’t match the pull of the hunch I felt, it’s better than being stuck without even trying. Because I’ve also done things that I’ve loved in the end. Mostly I find following creative impulses is a little like allowing myself to play. I can dance if I want to, and I don’t need Kevin Bacon‘s defense to do so.
This post is number 4 in a series. If you want to read other posts, start here.