When Creativity Hurts

Does being creative ever hurt you? Does the stroke of a paintbrush, the writing of words, or the blink of a camera shutter bring on tears?


Honestly, sometimes for me creativity hurts. But I don’t think creativity itself causes my pain. I believe when I dig deep and stirs things I have bottled inside, that stirring up reminds me I am in pain. Because let’s be honest, when we live with wounds sometimes we get used to the pain. We forget they haven’t healed yet.


I also ask myself, is it worth this hurt? I always came back to the answer, yes. Creativity is worth every tear. Why? Because it can help me heal, if I let it.


Will I let it? Will you let it? Will we all let creativity work its cauterizing powers on our emotional and spiritual wounds? Is your head spinning yet? Mine is and I’m the writer, but hold on with me here.


Why does it have to hurt? It’s TRUE not all healing creativity is painful. Most often it soothes, releases and even washes away anxiety, depression, fear, and loneliness. But sometimes it makes you stare at the things hurting you, and that pinches. It makes you relive trauma. That’s worse. It makes you examine, probe, and even reopen wounds. That is excruciating. Have you ever been there?


On 2015, November 11th, I started writing a poem that would go further and deeper than anything I had ever written before. It took me four years and two-ish weeks to write over a thousand words. No, I will not post it. Why bring it up? For the example of my creativity hurting me. There is no way I could count the tears spilt while writing it.


I often asked God why he gave it to me, but he never answered that question. He said write it. There were times I walked away from the project for months on end, but he always brought my attention back.


“Mary, write.”
“But I don’t want to.”
“Mary, write the poem.”
“But I DON’T WANT TO!”


Then he would be silent as I sat my butt down to write a few lines, or fixed a word. Or just read it over and over again, and cried.
See, I believe God made every human being creative, whether we use that creativity or choose not to. When he gave it to us, he gave us one of our most powerful attributes. He gave us part of his very self. That is why the act of creativity, in its many forms, can heal.


I am learning to lean in to my creativity when it hurts. The act is difficult, and I test the waters with my toes before committing to the journey of those experiences. I find my brain is far more receptive to learning while it’s hurting, if the hurt involves being creative.


Also important, remember that if you start a journey of healing with creativity, you don’t have to share it with anyone. It’s yours. The pain, the healing, the experience is YOURS. The art you make is yours for you. If you want to share it, that’s beautiful. If you want to burn it after creating it, do it. If you need to store it away in a dark closet under 100 blankets, that is just fine too. It’s the doing that is important. When you reach a place where the doing doesn’t hurt, and feels more like living, you still don’t have to share it.


I pray God blesses you through your doing this week.

©Mary Grace van der Kroef 2020

I Chose To Keep Creativity Alive

My kids were watching Brain Child the other day. The show was talking about creativity. I caught the part about how as you age you can lose it. “Now don’t you feel bad for your Mom and Dad?” I asked. They answered with a resounding, “YES!”

It’s true that “adulting” is not always conducive to living a creative life. It can drain us of our energy. Bills to pay, responsibilities to take care of, expectations to live up to.

Later, I was still thinking about it. I asked myself, “so what are you going to do about it?” It’s my creativity, it’s my job to make sure I don’t let it die.

See, I know what it is like to go for years, unable to create. Do you? Those were painful years. My head was in a terrible place. I stayed there way too long. I hadn’t written or drawn anything for years. Then a friend invited me to a paint night at a local artist’s gallery. I can never thank that friend enough. The joy I experienced that night while pushing paint around on a canvas was painful. I was like a dead thing coming back to life.

I loved it so much I asked all my sisters and closest friends to go with me again for my birthday. The night we went I was exhausted, cranky, and had a migraine. When I left I felt alive. My headache gone. Now the weeks and months I don’t get to paint regularly, I feel the activities absence. It becomes an ache inside of me.

Every human being is capable of creativity. Not only capable, but it is part of what makes us human. I believe creativity lives inside of YOU. Do you?

After finding my love of painting, suddenly the words inside of me came back to life. I have been writing like a mad woman ever since. Creativity lights the human spirit. It gives us wings. When we feed it, it grows and multiplies.

In the middle of a global pandemic, the entire world is tired, lonely, and stressed. I want to encourage you to be creative. If you don’t think your creative, your wrong. Get out the paper and crayons. Or maybe going for a walk outside and collecting leaves to make a collage is more your style. Go to the beach and make pictures in the sand. Do you live somewhere, where winter is blowing in like I do? Get or make a zen garden to play with. Make a snowman or crochet a scarf. There are so many ways to let your creativity shine.

Do you know what my favourite part of being creative is? It’s the part where it’s okay to be terrible at what you’re doing. Being good at it really doesn’t matter. It’s the doing that’s important.

So today or tomorrow make something. Then come back and tell me about it. I want to know what you did. Let’s stay creative together, and in doing so, let’s shine on this lonely earth.

When we are creative, I believe we are walking in God’s footsteps. I believe whether or not you share my faith, you where created in the image of God, the very essence of creativity. I can feel his presence when I create. Can you?

©Mary Grace van der Kroef 2020

Photo by Dragos Gontariu on Unsplash