I think it’s unfortunate how often we throw around phrases like “Sarah is so creative.” Or “Maddie doesn’t have an athletic bone in their body.” These kinds of labeling situations, especially amongst the young, can create beliefs that define our perception of what we are capable of. One of my great creativity teachers, Julia Cameron, emphasizes how important it is for us to move through these preconceived ideas we have about our creativity if we’re going to actually be creative.
If you are one of those people that were affected by negative reinforcement of your creativity throughout your life, I’m sorry.
That shouldn’t have happened.
Whether you can’t draw to save your life or can’t sing a note or couldn’t tell a sonnet from a haiku, it was unfair of whoever said it to make the general statement that you were not creative. Even if you believe it is true.
I think it’s so important that our faith creates a place for us to grapple with these damaging beliefs about ourselves and move through them. Connection researcher Brené Brown also talks extensively about the “creative wounds,” her interviewees often speak of which go on to affect them throughout their life.
All this to say that you don’t have to listen to all the voices from your past, even your own, when it comes to your creativity – or anything for that matter. You are not defined by the words that are said about you, but it doesn’t change the fact that they can hurt. I think that a huge part of the healing process is to accept both of those things and hold them both in your heart no matter how hard it might feel.
I was one of those kids that was just always the “creative one.” My life has been defined by music, theater, fashion design, graphic design, photography, all culminating in my career as a creative director. I’ve never met a creative endeavor I didn’t want to try my hand at.
But subsequently I was also labeled the “not athletic one.” It was the whole cliché 9 yards – the last one picked for teams, lowest grades in gym class, and I think I cried through every one of the six soccer games I attempted.
It was only as an adult that I allowed myself to believe, even just a little bit that maybe being “not athletic“ was not a defining fact about me. Seven months after I had my second child I signed up for my first 5K. Obviously not a feat of massive athletic prowess, but definitely more than I had ever attempted before. I trained all summer, faithfully following my couch to 5K running plan. Even on the morning of the race I didn’t know if I could do it and the memory chokes me up even now - because I did do it. I did what I had always believed was not possible for me even if it was for other people. I proved to myself that “not athletic“ was not a static truth about myself.
So if your version of my story is about being the “not creative” one, take heart. You too can prove to yourself – because you’re the only one that matters in the situation since God already knows the truth – that your non-creativity is not a static truth about yourself. Just as I have a body that is healthy and created by God and therefore able to run despite my lack of natural inclination to do so, you have a complex and beautiful mind that is all your own able to undertake feats of creativity in the image and likeness of God your creator.
So that’s all mushy and well and good and stuff, but what do you actually do if you have always believed that you’re not creative and now want to try and move the needle? You’d be hard-pressed to find a “Couch to Watercolor Florals“ training program, right?
Well, you’d be surprised. If you really would like to test your specifically artistic use of creativity then there is a wealth of beginner materials available. The biggest obstacle people face is the simple fact that it is a struggle for many people to allow themselves to be beginners. You’re early art is going to be bad. Your middle art is probably going to be mostly bad. And yes, even when you reach the later stages of artistic creative expression there is going to be a lot of bad art. And so being OK with that is an integral part of the process.
To get started, why not jump on Youtube and search for some tutorials? Maybe test out a membership teaching platform like Skillshare that will let you learn lots of different types of things from lots of different professionals? (If you use that link for Skillshare you will get two months of premium membership free to test it out!) Creative friends are also a great resource. See if they will let you join in or observe their creative juices at work to get yours flowing. And last but not least, there's always the trusty library. Check out a book and learn about a new skill that interests you.
But you definitely don’t have to jump into an artistic creative pursuit if you’re looking to dip your toes into creativity for the first time in a long time, or maybe ever. Throughout this month I’ve shared lots of non-traditionally artistic creative activities you might enjoy – photography, cooking, music appreciation, tinkering, and landscaping. You can pick one of these or another that appeals to you and get your feet wet. A simple book from the library on any of these topics will greatly expand your horizons and give you lots of food for thought.
And also, if you feel that you are harboring a creative wound from childhood, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that you admit that and also reject the lie that it has superimposed on your life. God wants to heal all our wounds, whether in this life or the next, and that includes our creative wounds. Admitting what you have been through, no matter how small and petty the story my seem, and vocally giving those wounds to God and rejecting the lies attached to them can be a powerful agent of change in your life.
PS. If you have friends that you think would benefit from the Revive Creativity resource package and the other content we are putting out this month, I encourage you to point them to this link: https://pinksaltriot.com/creativity/. There they can sign up and receive the packet right away in their inbox and follow along with the email for the rest of this month and beyond.