There’s an inherent uniqueness to creativity – in each of us. We’re delicate, unique, fleeting and beautiful. We’re Vincent van Gogh with his pathetically bandaged ear; we’re Marilyn Monroe with outsized everything; We’re Andy Warhol with vision, and drive. We’re constantly misunderstood. We are ourselves gifted and cursed with creativity. No one can reach us. No one can help us, or so we believe.
As I leave behind snowy seasons – perhaps forever – and push my way to California with my husband and two dogs by my side, I stopped to question this idea of the uniqueness and fragility of creativity.
Are we really unique snowflakes? Is our creativity really so fragile and untouchable?
Here’s how the logic goes – and I’ve heard it over and over.
Creativity is like voodoo. You can’t mess with it, because sometimes it goes away – and then there’s hell to pay. It is horrible to be a writer who isn’t writing. Creativity is in you or it isn’t, so no one can help you with it. You have to figure it out all by yourself. Sure, you can learn how to write better, but you better figure out how to get yourself to write – because your professors can’t hold your pen, or boot up your computer or make you sit at a desk.
If creativity is god given, innate… then it can’t be changed or fixed by others… so why even try to get help when you’re blocked. It’s your own cross to bear. “Oh… drama!” Is this a belief you hold? I think loads of people believe just that.
My creativity is unique and odd, and unreliable, and quirky, and great… but also lame. Not like Tina Fey’s or as good as Jane Austen or …
Fill in the blank… what do you believe about your own creativity? Let’s look at one belief many people hold about their creativity:
IF… creativity is innate, god-given
THEN… no one else can change it, enhance it, fix it
SO… I’m doomed to live with my own creativity as frustrating and fickle as it is. I’m stuck, blocked and resistant, and no one can help me but myself.
/IF “Creativity is innate” /THEN “no one else can fix it”
Taking a look at the first half… consider some of these questions.
- How does it feel to be powerless over your creativity?
- Is it okay to waste your god-given talent?
- Have you ever felt your “gift” or “talent” grow?
- Have you ever seen someone else grow creatively? perhaps even surprise him or herself?
- If you hold this belief, that your flawed creativity is god’s work, then is it okay to NOT try and enhance it?
- If you hold this belief forever, what might be the consequences in your life of ignoring, repressing, or underserving your talents?
- Even if it’s your cross to bear, can’t you seek help or guidance along the way?
- How innate is creativity? Many studies show it can be improved with tools, techniques, habit and practice. If that’s so, then couldn’t a professional help you learn and apply those tools?
- I know what you’re saying – no one can change someone’s level of talent. You either have “it” or you don’t. But plenty of people with “it” fail, while lesser talented people persevere and succeed. Couldn’t you see where the “it” girl might have succeeded with better help?
/THEN “no one else can fix it” /SO “I’m stuck and no one can help me but myself.”
Taking a look at the second half… consider some of these questions.
- How specifically do you know that?
- How many counter examples would it take for you to believe otherwise?
- You may believe that you’re stuck, a prisoner of your own creativity – but if there were a key are you saying you wouldn’t believe in the key?
- You may think that help will destroy your creativity in the process – but if you’re not writing anyway???
- And can you destroy your innate talent?
- That’s like saying, as you sit in the womb: “I have to be born all by myself. I have the instinct, I’m doing the work. Yes I’m stuck, but there’s no one in the womb who can help me.” True, from a newborn’s POV, he’s alone. But think of all the help that is there for him as soon as he begins to work – the mother, the father, the doctor or midwife, the nurses and others.
- If you stubbornly stick in your stuck place – what might be the consequences of not getting help?
- Does this statement, “no one can help me but myself” seem virtuous? admirable? independent? Mightn’t it also seem fearful? prideful? ignorant?
Well, creative snowflakes, I wanted to give you something to think about as you once again go it alone in your garrets and at your computer screens in the early mornings. Or as you skip writing – and no one but you alone knows the number of days since you last wrote, or the depth of despair you can sink to if you stop and think about it.
You don’t have to go it alone. Don’t let your negativity snowball.