We often overlook the power of quiet in our world. For many creatives, finding that quiet space can be difficult.
What do you do when the quiet finds you, and won’t leave?
We have been subjected to isolation few have known before. For some, this has created safe spaces to create, even given us a boost. We have taken stock and finish projects. It’s been thrilling!
But, It’s been over a year. How do you keep your creativity thriving when you can’t watch the hustle and bustle of everyday life from your favorite coffee shop window, when trips that feed your inspiration are discouraged? What do you do when it’s been weeks since your last conversation with another adult, and all you hear in your own brain is baby talk and cartoon theme songs? Or even just silence, and the silence is weighting on you, crushing your creativity.
It’s time to remember your ‘why’. What do I mean by that?
Every person engaging in their creativity has a why, an underlying reason they create. What’s yours?
For me, it’s not a choice. I must write or I get sick. It’s how my brain puts pieces together and manages stress. It’s how I entertain and am entertained. I dream, think, and live in a world of words. My why?
I write to understand myself and the word.
What is your why?
Whatever form your creativity takes, revisit your why. After you hold it in my mind and heart again, ask yourself, is it still enough? Has it changed this past year? Should it change?
I can’t answer those questions for you. I will trust you can find the answers. After you remember your why, it’s time to practice.
Practice? Yes, practice.
Sometimes creatives believe the lie that, “We always need to have a project going.” That is not true.
When you are tired, lonely, depressed, give your brain and heart a rest. Revisit things you know best like the beginning strokes of a painting, the simple forms of poetry you played with as a child.
Hop, mop, clop!
Let your brain wonder through small things.
What does your coffee smell like?
Is there a word to describe the wind chimes outside on the back porch?
If your art is more physical, return to the exercises your body knows. Muscle memory is powerful.
Pick up your guitar and play Mary Had A little lamb. Let your fingers roam over the strings, finding the notes your heart loves best, a favorite song. Just sing.
Then take a brake.
Put it down, walk away, play with the kids. Phone Mom! Send your girlfriend a hand-written letter. Let creativity grow. Once you start something, it will call to you. Your heart and mind will tell you when to engage with creativity.
Do you hear her calling you?
When you do, it’s then that your heart is ready to learn from her again. This road of creativity in loneliness is difficult. But if you feed that flame inside, it won’t die. Be kind to yourself.
All humans have the spark of creativity. Some of us revel in it, and some of us hold it at arms’ length. Some of us even try to squelch it in our fists as if it was a bug we could squash, or a flame we could douse.
Have you ever done that?
Why do we do it?
Because creativity is not safe, and it scares us.
Why does creativity sometimes scare us? A few reasons may be fear of rejection, fear of inferiority, or fear of breaking rules.
When you share your creativity, there is always a risk that whoever you share it with, won’t get it or be able to appreciate it. It’s for each individual to decide if that risk is worth it.
We have a choice weather we hide our creativity from others. But that’s like placing a lit candle under a bucket. We should share creativity, at least with those who love us.
It is also a sacred thing. Creativity demands our energy. Inevitably, the creator will endow the project with a part of his or her self. It’s painful seeing our work rejected, as it’s painful being overlooked, or rejected as people. But I believe the risk is worth it.
It’s also possible we are just not as gifted in our chosen art form as we wish to be. Other’s might outshine us. We may fail in front of the world.
I urge each of us not to let this fear stop us from practicing our creativity. Every great creative was once a beginner. Everyone will find someone more talented.
You know what? That’s okay.
Whether you gain great acclaim in your art, or not, your creativity has merit. Often, it’s the doing that blesses and not always the end product. We can bless others as they watch our progress, no matter how slow that progress may be. It can light the spark under their own creativity. Don’t stop doing what gives you wing just because you’re not the best at it.
Sometimes our creative takes us to places that push boundaries. We may have heard, “no you can’t do that, it’s not allowed.” Or been told that something makes us incapable of practicing this creativity. Be it cultural rules, religious rules, or something else, this can and is devastating. Dare we break those rules? Will we risk throwing the definition of norms out the window?
This is a personal choice. Are there moral reasons rules are there? Are these moral rules just? Honestly, human beings aren’t always fair with the rules we place on ourselves and others. It’s necessary to question rules and why they are in place, especially when they limit human creativity.
As we question these rules, and weigh the need to uphold, or brake them, I hope bravery, truth, and beauty prevail.
What will you do this week to practice creativity? Tell me about it!
It doesn’t matter how average you think you might be, you have a unique story all your own. No one has lived the same life or felt the same emotions. No one sees the world in quite the same way as YOU.
It doesn’t matter how old or young you are, nor your level of education. There is a story inside of you, and it’s important.
What’s your story?
It could be as simple as that casserole recipe your grandmother taught you how to make, and the things you both talked about while she taught you.
It could be your story is more of a question, something you long to know the answer to, and your quest to find it. Did you find it? Will you find it? Maybe, maybe not. That is a story.
Sure, not everyone may want to know your story. But for every story, there is an audience. Be it ever so small, it’s there.
Telling your story takes courage. It means being vulnerable. Are we brave enough to tell our stories? Not all stories are dark and painful, dramatic, or awe-inspiring. Some are quite ordinary.
Have you ever watched the movie, It’s a Wonderful life? I know many people who make it a tradition to watch this classic in the bright glow of a Christmas tree. It truly is a powerful story. But what makes it so powerful? Simple truth.
An ordinary life has reach and meaning beyond itself. We all touch others in ways we do not realize. We leave holes when we are gone, that we will never know about. There are stories behind our ordinary selves. Beautiful stories, stories worth hearing, reading, and seeing. Stories we can and should learn from.