Updated August 28, 2022 I had initially published this article in April of 2011 but discovered in 2022 that the site by John Jensen* was no longer available. It categorized many hidden canals and ports in North America, shifting our view from what we think we know...
Living a Creative Life
As part of my ‘beginning of the year’ reflection and goals, I really wanted to get back to my core strengths and passions. It’s pretty easy to pinpoint, actually. I love creating. And this isn’t in just one area.
- Designs for print and web
We’re ALL creative in one way or another. Some of us can write epics of adventure and the next person can create poetry from computer code. We all have the ability to creatively find solutions. Many people don’t believe they have an ounce of creativity within them, but they are wrong. Creativity comes when you have experience in an area and can come up with solutions. From making clothes and meals to fixing cars and building bridges. “I just used a pattern I found.” Uh…yeah…but you can use a sewing machine and I can’t. “Oh, but anyone can learn.” Yeah…but they don’t. YOU did.
I have a tendency of citing sources in my writing to let you know I’ve done my research before spouting information like in the paragraph above, but that is one thing I’m letting go of this year. If you don’t believe me, that’s fine. If you find different research disputing my information, that’s fine too. Why is that okay? Because we create our lives and our realities every day.
How Do You Live a Creative Life?
The trick to this is that you already do. You may not be a published author, have a gallery opening, sell your music or crafts, but you are being creative and, thus, a creative life.
Don’t make the connection of creativity and money. Let this notion go and you will be infinitely happier. This is not to say that you can’t make money. Any creative person can. In the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, she helps you break the notion and belief of the ‘Starving Artist’ syndrome.
And if you really want to learn more about how a creative life looks, check out Twyla Tharps, A Creative Life. I did a review on her book a while back you can check out. But the idea she has is how you let the creative ideas out and how you get them done. So many of us have unfinished work, but what might surprise you is that that work may be ‘done.’
A painting is never finished – it simply stops in interesting places.
~ Paul Gardner
I should probably take this lesson to heart more often myself.
But back to Tharps idea on getting your ideas out. In the review I did, I mention another book called Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality. It’s angled more towards the Graphic Design field, but it gives great strategy and steps to plotting out and accomplishing your creative ideas. What does this have to do with Tharps “A Creative Life?” I read Making Ideas Happen after Tharps book and discovered her strategy for getting ideas out was exactly what the researchers discovered in Graphic Design. Keep in mind that these are tried and true pattern that successful creatives follow whether for their own enjoyment or for commercial careers.
But all that is interesting, but isn’t the main thing keeping most of us from living our creative lives. And if you are reading this article, and aren’t doing the creative play you want, you probably have a few thoughts going on in your head: “I don’t have enough time/money/experience/stuff,” or “What if nobody likes what I do or they think I’m weird?”
To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.
~ Joseph Chilton Pearce
We’re all afraid of rejection. We’re all afraid of being wrong. I am. But I’m losing that fear.
Destroy the Old and Create Something Better
What’s that burning idea you’ve had for years and probably sketched, written, or tinkered with for years? You know exactly the one I’m talking about. And each time you see a piece of artwork, read a book, or see a movie that has some similar ideas you think, “Oh, no use in creating that now. They’ll just think I’m copying them.”
Here’s a fact: There is no way that you can create something exactly like someone else.
Oh sure, you can be really really close, especially if your entire goal is to copy it exactly, but it still won’t be exact. No one sees things the exact same way you do. No one has had the exact same experiences as you’ve had. No one looks exactly like you. No one has the same exact nervous system, neural connects, or DNA as you. NO ONE in nearly seven billion people on the planet.
When it comes to ideas, there is the possibility of similar ideas coming to people. Two movies about a meteor striking the earth in the same year. Two apps that do similar things. Two solutions to curing polio. But they will never be exactly the same.
So why do I say “Destroy the old?”
If it doesn’t serve you, if it isn’t moving you towards the life you want…blow it up! Painters reuse canvases. Materials from various types of projects can be reused or re-purposed. But the important thing is that you must remove what isn’t working and don’t think that one day in the far future, maybe, hopefully, it will work or be used. Here’s a hint, if you’ve had it for more than two years (and that’s being generous), you probably are NEVER going to use it. Sell it. Ditch it. Give it away. DESTROY IT! It’s holding energy that is keeping you from doing something else.
What’s Your First Step?
Here are some thoughts to get you going. You’ll have to adapt ideas depending on what area of creativity you want to explore.
- Artists: Get an index card or some stiff card stock and take 10-15 minutes. Find some object in your house (or some idea in your head and…)
- Sketch with a pencil (any…#2 or from your art pencils)
- Pick one color of acrylic or watercolor and paint
- Grab a marker or crayon and let your inner child draw
- Writers: Get ONE sheet of paper and pencil and set a timer for 10-15 minutes and try one of these.
- It’s the end of the year and I did these three creative things…
- If money, time, or experience wasn’t an issue and I wasn’t afraid of anything, I would…
- If I could destroy one thing/aspect/part in my life, it would be… and I would feel like…
- Cooks: This is a bit more time, but take 10-15 minutes to find a NEW recipe from another culture to create. Many folks fix meals for others and may have finicky eaters, so plan to cook for you and a friend or loved one who is willing to try. Set a date. Go buy the ingredients. Put on some music from that culture on Pandora or your favorite streaming music and make a night of it.
It’s your life. Create what you want. It takes practice. It may take some time. But you must work on it every day until the habit is strong and those around you will respect your time and efforts. Remember, NO ONE has to like it but you. And remember, you can be a painter, writer, chef, designer and NOT be paid to be one. Those are referred to as “Professionals” (and really just means they’ve been paid at least once. You can still be all or any of those things.
At the end of your life, won’t it be great to look back and think, “Man…that was fun.”
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If you’ve enjoyed anything on my site, please feel free to donate what you can. In turn, I’ll continue to add content and encourage others to live a creative life! Regardless, I hope you’ve enjoyed your time. If you feel like reaching out, please do so. I'm easy to find.
Even a cup of coffee for a few dollars, or $5 for a triple grande mocha would give me some 'juice' to create for me and others.