Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book Big Magic, suggests we are all creators and it is fear that keeps us from creating.
Rainer Maria Rilke, the poet, suggested art is a “cosmic, creative, transforming force.”*
If you believe God created the world, you will also remember we are created in God’s image. Therefore, it would follow creativity is inherent within each of us.
Creativity has ebbed and flowed for me. When I was very young, I would put on plays and charge the neighborhood kids a nickel to attend. People ask me if I had always known I wanted to be a writer. The answer is no, but I have always been a storyteller.
In my early years, telling stories was experienced in theater. I actually have a whole theater degree in a drawer somewhere. But I found this to be a cumbersome creative exercise after the kids came along. Giving up 12-20 hours a week for rehearsals wasn’t worth it for me. Eventually, I stopped acting in live theater, but I might try it again now that the kids are gone.
It was actually through studying the Enneagram about ten years ago that I decided to set aside time and space for writing (read about that here). If the desire to create is resident in your heart, you need to make space for it. Time, place, consistency, supplies, these things matter.
You know what doesn’t matter? Age doesn’t matter. I didn’t start writing seriously until I was fifty (I say “seriously” because I also have a screenplay and a book in a drawer somewhere from earlier attempts). I have a friend who went back to the piano at forty, and one who went back to ice-skating at forty-five. Creativity will always be there waiting for you, and will always fill a place in your soul with joy and light if you give it a chance.
I used to think that in times of stress or depression, I had to stop creating. But in reality, those dark times are fodder for creativity; just ask any middle school poet! We, as Americans, only want to live in Spring and Summer emotions. We avoid Fall and Winter seasons of life. But, as creatives, Fall and Winter are what give us deep wells to draw from. They are to be welcomed, learned from, embraced and explored.
What keeps you from giving creativity space in your life?
Try these ideas to help jump-start your creativity:
Chose a time each day or each week to allow the creative juices to flow. If you’re a writer, find a space that can be your own without distractions. I write in a library on Tuesdays. Think outside the conventions of what other people say you have to do and find a way that works for you.
Think about the tools you will need for your craft. If you are an artist, do you have paints, pencils, brushes, or camera? Begin collecting over time until you have what you need. But remember the stories of children in poor countries who make art with cardboard and coal. Don’t let supplies stop you from creating.
If your creativity needs space, like dancing or ice-skating, start investigating options. Some cities have shared artist spaces and some ice-rinks let you in early, before they are officially open, to practice.
You might need other artists to encourage you. I do. I belong to two writers groups, and every time I attend a meeting it feels like a kick in the pants to keep creating. My son works out of a cooperative artist space. They build huge art for Burning Man and share tools and equipment like giant 3-D printers. They share, not only supplies, but ideas, and they teach classes for others too. The benefit of living in Reno is that much of the Burning Man art stays here so you can walk around town and enjoy it, see the example above.
Check out your local community college for inexpensive classes to jump-start your creativity.
Trust me, getting back into creativity is worth it. The joy I have in writing fills me in a way nothing else does. Let me know if you are making space and what you are creating.
*This quote, and some of the ideas in this article, come from the book, Illuminating the Way: Embracing the Wisdom of Monks and Mystics, by Christine Valters Paintner in her chapter titled, The Artist.
Photo credit: Believe Art: Debbie Mitchell Pinjuv, Cavern: Mine