Updated: Feb 16, 2019
I’m sure for many people, especially for those of whom finger painting and collage are distant childhood memories, being faced with a blank page can be daunting, if not downright confronting. Our demons shout at us, “What if I make a mistake? What if it doesn’t look like how it’s meant to look? I can’t draw!”
Our harsh inner critic screams at us to avoid failure at all cost, finds excuses to ignore the desire to create and convinces us we’re fine without expressing our creativity.
Yet as Brene’ Brown has found in her research on wholeheartness, ‘creativity is a function of being human. There are simply people who use their creativity and people who do not.’ She goes on to explain that unused creativity is not benign and does not simple dissipate. Instead, unused creativity grows, festers and turns into rage, grief, shame, judgement and other negative emotions. So when we deny the urge to create, we deny something at the very heart of who we are.
Our mental and emotional resistance to art making may be strong, yet it is like the first pains of opening the door and stepping outside after deciding to exercise when you haven’t run (or even walked up a steep hill) for years. Sure, you know it’s going to hurt! Yet, you also know deep down that it is going to feel fantastic once you do. The first mark on a blank page is like putting on your shoes and going for that first run…the rest is easy!
What’s stopping you?
We all have hidden potential to move towards a fullness of living that includes creativity, imagination and intuition. So what stops us? In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, "Comparison is the thief of joy!"
We compare ourselves with the people next to us, artworks in galleries or against some ideal of what we think we should be able to create.
Equally, it often has to do with negative experiences we had when we are younger; the first realisations that our cat didn’t really look like a cat at all, a teacher commenting that trees aren’t really pink or a peer scoffing at our attempts at a self-portrait. All these experiences have the potential to impact our willingness to creatively express ourselves in the future.
It may happen innocently enough, but that early childhood ability to freely make marks, the internal desire to explore and express ourselves, the drive to create, all too soon gets locked away in a secret, safe place, which becomes difficult to access. Yet, it is still there.
I urge anyone feeling stuck in terms of their creativity, to seek and find an outlet for it. Whether it be making jewellery, knitting scarves, writing a journal, sewing your kids’ book week costumes, redecorating a room, taking photos or painting a picture. Do something! Put on your creative shoes and open the door, because it is only one short step to reignite your creative flame. Starting might well be the hardest part, however you won’t regret it, you will revel in it!