I often hear people say “I’m not creative.” I feel sad when I hear that because I know it’s not true, and that they’re disowning something that is their birthright. I also know that if and when they claim their creativity they will be happier and healthier. They will thrive. They’ll recapture some of the ease, joy, and freedom they felt as children, and may now sense as a possibility within themselves.
If you’re alive you’re creative. Creativity is the life force that pulses in our whole being. The expression of this vital energy is not limited to artistic and literary pursuits. We can give voice to creativity in any form whatsoever: cooking, gardening, event planning, and, of course, painting, writing, or playing a musical instrument.
An addiction to busyness is a common obstacle to creative expression. The drive for activity is an impulse of the ego. Typically, Western culture conditions us to align with this drive. And so we do. Most of us haven’t been supported in cultivating the capacity to just BE, to listen, and feel deeply. This is foundational to the creative process. Yes, doing is an important aspect of creative endeavors, e.g. finding the right resources, putting ideas into form, completing plans or projects. The other dimension of creativity, though, is letting go and opening up to insights and our rich imagination. It’s necessary to move beyond the confines of the ego, and create space in our busy lives and within ourselves so that inspiration can find us. We need to make room for creativity.
Don’t worry if you feel that your creative fire is out. It’s not. There are burning embers inside of you that just need to be stoked. You can do that by choosing to direct attention to awakening your creativity, then taking one small step at a time. Consider the possibility that playing the guitar or planning a unique holiday party is just the medicine you need to help you get out of a rut, or inspire you to feel excited about life again.
I’ve been writing a book and just completed revision, the most difficult phase of the project for me. I managed to do this while I was filling in for a colleague who was on sabbatical, taking on a new professional project, and dealing with an unexpected health issue with my mother. I was able to meet the writing deadline because I made blocks of creativity time non-negotiable. It seemed counterintuitive. How could I take one to two hours every morning to cut out pictures from magazines, and draw and write/play in my journal with this much on my plate? I sensed that tapping into the creative river every day would fortify me, keep the channels open, and give me the fuel and life force I needed to handle these challenging responsibilities. The experiment worked beautifully. The revision is done, and I’m not exhausted as I’ve been before when I pushed through difficult tasks. I’m still in a flow state much of the time, all brought about by making creative expression a priority.
Please don’t say “I’m not creative.” The creative force is innate; it’s who you are. Awakening to creativity will bring joy and aliveness into your life. If you carve out some time and space for the Muse, she’ll reward you tenfold.