When I started writing about four years ago, I couldn’t have predicted how embracing the creative life would change me. Writing has drawn me in, spit me back out, sat on me, patted my back, called me forth, pushed me away, stirred my brain, and hunted me down. She’s a master or a muse, depending on the day, my mood, or how I let her define me.
With both fear and glee, I realize these few years later, I don’t think she’ll ever let me go—or I her—even though I have recently spent several months away from consistent writing. I abandoned my previous website because it didn’t seem to be a right fit anymore and spent time thinking about the direction my writing should take. What’s my message? Why spend free time in this pursuit when there’s precious little as a parent of young kids? What value does creativity bring to our lives?
I don’t know that I arrived at concrete answers to my questions but I realized the creative life is a holy one, and not an optional one. Creating is a return to our first love, the Creator, the commissioner of good work. No matter the hobby, discipline, craft, or art we’re to embrace, we’re called to observe, to notice, to see what could be. When we share the nuances of what we discover with others, we bring God glory and goodness to our own lives.
In today’s culture, “Creativity is being treated as if it’s only a commercial product [but] actually it has the ability to inspire far more than that,” says Uncommon co-founder and CEO Natalie Graeme. “At the World Economic Forum they’re all saying that creativity is going to be the third most important business skill, it’s great, but I think it goes even further than that.” Science supports her observation—the practices of creativity lead to a more positive outlook, nurture social connections, develop resilience, and foster original thinking.
Even though creativity is a positive aspect of our culture, we don’t always believe that each of us needs a creative outlet to live fully alive. If you’re telling yourself you don’t have a creative bone in your body or you’re bad at visual arts or you ruin everything you bake or your singing is offensive…stop …and listen. Somewhere inside, there’s a percolating of creativity. A stream of confluence; where your interests and passions meet, its banks outlining this inner force where you are whole and most reflective of God. No human, living at their fullest potential, is a non-creative.
Sometimes we falsely suppose that if we weren’t gifted or interested in something during childhood, we don’t have license to start now. My father-in-law, who took the beautiful photo above, started pursuing photography in his fifties. My dad is beginning piano lessons in his sixties because he regrets that he was never musical. I recently heard about an author who published her first book at 95 years old. Don’t let preconceived ideas about your younger self limit what you might be called to now.
Maybe the biggest barrier to the creative life is fear. Part of why I spent time away from consistent writing is because the creative process takes vulnerability. What if no one else sees things the way I do? What if the feedback loop of an artistic endeavor is never closed, if silence prevails? Even worse, what if we get negative feedback?
Author Joseph Chilton Pearce said, “To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”
I celebrate my craft when there’s success, but don’t always have a tough outer (or inner) shell to protect my emotions when readers, editors, or even I judge my work as irrelevant, inadequate, or ill-timed. This is the year, however, I aspire to become friends with failure, if it means letting go of needing to create for validation over obedience to the call.
The way of the creative is a winding path through mountains and valleys—one that takes us higher and lower than the highway of the status quo. But one that opens our senses with beautiful vistas and challenges us with rainy days on the trail. Let’s embrace the creative life, it’s the one planned for us all along.
Heidi, I love your thoughts about creativity! Have you read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron? I read it in a book club maybe 20 years ago, but I still remember the joy of the weekly homework: we had to spend 1 or 2 hours per week doing something creative. It could have been as simple as wandering through a fabric store and enjoying the colors, patterns, and textures of different fabrics. That assignment was brilliant, and no matter what stage of parenting I am in, I have tried to remember the pleasure and gratification of doing something creative on a regular and consistent basis. Thanks for the excellent reminder!
First of all, Lauren, I found your comment! I do need to check out this book, thanks for the suggestion.