Creativity emerges the moment your imagination awakens and you feel joy doing something you love. Perhaps it began with your first sand castle, finger painting, or reciting a poem. For most, it’s somewhere between the ages of 3 and 6, around the time that your dawn of conscious memory wakes up and you’re suddenly aware that you’re alive.
According to the Journal of Anatomy, in the article, The Evolution of Human Artistic Creativity by Gillian M Morriss-Kay:
“Art, in its many forms, is practiced by almost all human cultures and can be regarded as one of the defining characteristics of the human species.”
Art defines us, and yet somehow it gets lost in the mire of becoming adult in our modern world. Life left no room to play or imagine with a rigid structure restricted to conformity by educational expectations confined to classrooms and worksheets.
What killed your joy, sweet child? A teacher’s grade? A jealous friend? You might have been told you weren’t good enough or that art (or writing, or… ) would never be a “real job.”
But, the desire is still there.
It’s the yearning you feel when you read a great book, see a movie that changes you, or gaze at a painting that stirs your soul. Your creative desire is nudged, just waiting for you to return to your own unique expression.
Sometimes the yearning torments you, sparking a tinge of jealousy or envy when you see others doing it. It’s an ugly feeling, because it points a finger at your own failure to follow through.
Even though you say, Someday I’d like to paint, or Someday, I’m going to write that book, the intention doesn’t satisfy the desire long enough to send it completely away. It’s still a living thought inside of you that feels disappointed every time you use the word, “someday.”
We often believe that others are the “chosen few” for greatness. It’s simply not true. Art isn’t a single stroke of genius but a cultivated expression of life.
Expressing yourself means giving rise to your talents. Everyone has a talent for doing something.
Art goes beyond the role you think it plays. It’s not limited to a painting, or a song; it’s the way you view the world and your potential to create it.
Creativity heightens your ability to expand your areas of expertise. It gives life to new ideas, and helps you see things in a new way. It opens the door to possibilities in your life and career.
We all have a work life. Whatever your job is, it demands a creative you. If you’re a real estate agent you have to master the contract, the negotiations, and solve problems. These are learned skills but they come to life through creativity. You market homes by writing an enticing story and give life to that vision through photography… all artistic expression. You learn how to convey information and make people feel comfortable with their decisions. You establish a trusted relationship by connecting with people through your talents, your skills and your personal story.
Creativity helps you erect a structure for change and gives rise to a set of skills that encourage your evolution. You use it to expand your vision and the possibilities for the future.
Some say to me, “but I’m not creative.” Trust me, you are. Everyone is. You just haven’t named it. There’s something inside of you bursting to get out… the artistic expression of you. You just have to discover what that is.
Sometimes your creative mind lies dormant until something happens to wake it up
Even something as devastating as loss.
Several years ago, I suffered the greatest loss any parent could imagine. My 16 year old son died suddenly. He woke up with a fever and was dead the next morning. It was an aggressive form of bacterial meningitis that the doctor had misdiagnosed as “the flu.”
On the day of his death, a close friend who had experienced a similar loss brought me a book. It was written by another bereaved mother. I vowed, if she could survive, so could I, and one day I would write about it.
Healing is not easy and time doesn’t fix the depth of this kind of loss. Through the process of my own healing, I discovered that restoring your life doesn’t just happen, you have to commit to wanting joy again. I discovered ways to take deliberate steps to reclaim my life.
That’s what I knew I could write about. I wanted to give other parents hope as they navigate the most tragic event of their lives.
It was a calling that kept nagging at me for years. I’d shoo it away, saying, Someday, I’m going to write that book.
I kept thinking there would be a sign or I’d just wait until I felt inspired.
But my calling needed more nudging.
Two decades later, it finally hit me. My son left me with his legacy and a purpose. I couldn’t let him down. His life meant more than the 16 years 3 months and 10 days he was alive. With writing, I had the ability to offer hope to bereaved parents at a time when they could only see darkness.
Once I found clarity on why I wanted to write, I discovered there was actually only one thing preventing me from doing it. A commitment.
And so… I honored my child by doing the hardest thing I’ve ever done… writing my story of loss… and restoration. (How to Survive the Worst that Can Happen, A Parent’s Step by Step Guide for Healing After the Loss of a Child.)
When it was done, my heart could rest. I brought it to completion, and it opened the door to even more. Writing my book taught me the value of commitment and consistency. It and led me to establishing a writing ritual every single day. I fulfilled my promise to myself and it freed me to continue on the path writing for the next chapter of my life.
Now, writing is part of who I am. I am a writer and it feels so good.
So much focus has been on finding that one thing you do well. That’s simply too much pressure. Jeff Goins, in his book, “Real Artists Don’t Starve,” says…
“Your art is never beholden to a single form. You can always change and evolve, and the best artists do this regularly. They understand that in order to thrive, you have to master more than one skill.”
Just as you were never meant to finger paint forever, your creativity has an evolution of it’s own. The more you add to your life experiences, it will lead you to the next step that was just waiting in the wings.
Your creative expression might not pay your bills, but it’s meant to be expressed anyway. You incorporate it into your existing job, or set aside time in your week to let it grow. Maybe it’s just waiting for you to get better before it becomes the focus of your life. That’s where doing the work, and expanding your skills take you to the next level.
People often feel they need to create something important and meaningful. It doesn’t matter if your work is viewed by one person, or many, because it’s fueled by your heart’s desire to fulfill its own potential. That desire will lead you to the next step, and then the next.
It’s normal and natural to question whether we have what it takes.
Believe me, I was terrified putting my personal story of grief out there for the world to see. I was certain it would never be a “best seller.” Hopefully not, because I surely didn’t want to believe that more children had to die in order for my book to become profitable. But, it found it’s way to making a difference, and every time I hear from another parent who has read it, I feel fulfilled.
Your job is to figure out what your expression of art is
Stop putting it off as something you’ll do in the uncertain future. Do the work now.
Stephen Pressfield in his book War of Art asks,
“Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what resistance is… The resistance you feel is a force of nature.”
Everyone feels resistance to commit to their artistic calling, It’s triggered by stepping outside of factual and critical thinking and into creative thinking. Remember? You were once told it wasn’t a “real” job.
Fight resistance and do it anyway
If you keep avoiding the “artistic you,” then you’ve got work to do
Make a commitment today to fulfill your creative potential by exploring things you’ve loved in the past.
- What did you spend hours doing as a child? Acting? Drawing? Writing?
- What work from other people causes a creative yearning? Envy? Jealousy?
- What do you love to spend hours thinking about, researching or reading?
- What artistic activities soothe you?
- What do others say you have a talent for?
- Ask the question you’ve asked before… Someday I want to… and fill in the blank.
Allow yourself to believe you had a creative destiny all along.
If you commit to the discovery process, one day you’ll wake up knowing what your art is. You’ll recognize the flutter of excitement when the sun rises and it’s the joy you feel when you realize you get to spend another day doing what you love.
If you found this article helpful, please “heart” it and share! It helps others find it, too. Also, here’s a free copy of my Checklist for the Creative Mind. The timing might be perfect right now!
Originally published at medium.com