Reclaiming Your Creative Side

creative side

Show me a kid who doesn’t love creativity. Show me a kid who doesn’t enjoy making some type of art — painting, singing, writing stories, dancing, playing music or making things with clay.

You won’t find one.

Until life beats it out of us, we naturally find joy in creativity. Then life (a.k.a. confused grown-ups) tell us we are or aren’t good enough.

You hear that your picture of a cat doesn’t look like a cat. You notice the teacher got excited about Johnny’s singing voice but didn’t seem as thrilled about yours.

Somebody got the solo, somebody won the prize. Sometimes that somebody was you, but that didn’t help because you knew: it was all about being good enough, and in any moment, you could make the standard or not. Creating got stressful, fear ridden, nerve wracking. It’s wasn’t too long after that that you started to avoid making art, even though you missed it.

So here’s what we wise and courageous adults must do if we want the joy of making art back. We must reclaim our artistic loves.

Why?

Only because creating is delightful and fun and calming, all at the same time.

Only because it’s spiritual, healing, transformative.

Only because it will help your physical health (boost immunity and reduce the effects of chronic stress) and make you a kinder, more generous person to be around.

Only for those little reasons.

Oh, and if there are kids in your life? That’s one more reason. Let them see an adult, happily creating for the joy of it.

Ready? Here are some tips for reclaiming your lost artistic loves:

1. Trust your intuition about what art to pursue.

Somewhere in that heart of yours, there’s a sense about the type of art your soul is called to. What forms of art feel appealing, right, charged with energy?

2. If getting started feels weighty and stressful, change up your perspective.

Ask yourself, “What would make this fun?” and brainstorm 20 ideas. Or, think of something in your life that you do with a relaxed attitude — getting drinks with friends, playing a game, cooking a favorite recipe, perhaps. Bring that mood to your first forays back into art. Or, pick a word that represents the approach you want to take. Maybe it’s “play,” or “fun,” or “silliness” or “exploration.” Remember it and repeat it to yourself when the judgments start to creep in.

3. Check out your fears.

Are they rational? Can you really fail at this? And by the way, if you did, so what? Are you really going to horribly embarrass yourself? (More tools for dealing with fears can be found here.)

4. If you are feeling a little low on momentum, amp up the urgency.

Close your eyes and imagine you never reclaim the creative part of you. Imagine you live without the joy of making art for the next 20 years. What will the costs be? What will the consequences be?

5. Close the door on that period of your life when you needed someone else to tell you your work was good.

You know now that that whole game — seeking praise, avoiding criticism — just robs you of the joy and peace of making art. You used to hunger for validation. Now hunger for the rich joy of doing the work itself. Fall in love with the process of making art.

6. Do not let Ms. Critic and Ms. Creative in the room at the same time.

You’ve got two characters inside. Ms. (or Mr.) Creative needs a safe space to create, one without judgment. She needs to trust her ideas and make stuff without worry or fear. Ms. Critic is very different. She’s an analytical thinker, very good at noticing where improvements could be made. Until you are a very practiced artist, Ms. Critic and Ms. Creative should never be present at the same time. When you create, suspend all worries, judgments and attempts to evaluate your work. Later in the process, when it’s time to tweak the painting, revise the draft poem, etc., look at it through Ms. Critic’s eyes.

7. Don’t fall for your own B.S.

There’s a particular kind of B.S. that our minds make up when it comes to reclaiming creative loves. You will hear your brain thinking thoughts like these:

  • I would need at least an hour a day to do this and I don’t have that kind of time.
  • I need all the equipment and we can’t spend the money on that.
  • We’d have to get a piano in the house.
  • When we renovate the shed into a studio, I’ll do it.
  • The only class I can take is 60 miles away.

It’s all complete B.S., crafted in an attempt to get you to stay in the safe but stale comfort zone, and not take any emotional risks by reclaiming your art. The truth is, you can start reclaiming your art, cheaply, without much time, and without any expensive equipment, today. Use that resourceful mind of yours to make it happen, and don’t be fooled by your own excuses.

8. Experiment as needed.

Experiment with formats. Maybe you thought you wanted to take a watercolor class but now that you are in it, you notice you compare yourself to the other students and might fare better at home. Maybe you planned to create once a week at night but are finding you are too tired and wondering if mornings might be better. As long as those experiments don’t become a way to put off the creating itself, feel free to tweak the how, where and when until you find a way that works for you. Just give yourself a solid block of creating time with each experiment you try.

9. Honor yourself.

Honor your courage. Honor the spark in you that loves to create. Take time to hear the child in you, thanking you so heartily for giving him or her back the joy of creative play.

Have you lost a creative love? What is it?
What happened along the way in your life that caused it to get left behind?
Do you want to reclaim it?
Have you reclaimed a creative love as an adult already?
How did you do it? Share your tips and wisdom with others.
What difference has making art made in your life?

Photo by Cameron Cassan

Recommend Resources

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10 thoughts on “Reclaiming Your Creative Side”

  1. I really like your practical and actionable list of things to do to reconnect to our creative selves. In my work, I find that creativity is far too often looked at as a “nice to have” as opposed to a vital component of finding the best answer(s) to the challenges we face.

    Creativity is not just about being artistic, it’s also about being armed with tools and processes to help us do our best with “solution finding.”

    Robert S. Tipton, Author, JUMP! – Get Unstuck (http://www.OurJUMP.com)

  2. I completely agree that ironically creativity is squashed in childhood. It only takes a few years for students to be boxed into being either sporty, creative, musical or academic. It’s like the house factions at school, you can only belong to one!

    I’m finding myself here at 30, with my body and mind craving some creativity.

    Thanks for this guide :)

  3. Thanks for this wonderful post which I appreciate very much. I agree that creativity adds tremendous richness to our life. Your reference to improved physical health is interesting, and it makes sense, since creativity does indeed make you feel more alive, younger, and more energized.

    I don’t have a specific creative ‘medium’ that I practice, but I have found over the years that my life in general becomes more and more a creative affair. I’ve been fortunate to discover work that I love, and I find that each day and every new challenge presents an opportunity to be creative.

  4. Hi Tara. I really like your suggestions here. Time after time, I’ve said that I wish I was more creative. Because I didn’t seem to have artistic talent, I shied away from nearly everything. Well, luckily I came to realize that this was a silly move.

    I’ve come to find that it feels great to explore the creative side of me. Even if I’m the only person on Earth to ever like it, it’s perfectly okay for me to express myself in whatever way I please. I color, paint, draw, dance, and even sing. I won’t say I’m great at any of it, but I love love love the childlike excitement that fills my soul.

  5. Hey while reading this post I felt as if you’ve read my mind! These kind of thoughts and fear is exactly what I experience before starting any kind of creative work . The negative thoughts and fears of all kinds is what stops me from picking up any creative art. Some negative thoughts like ‘I can’t do it!’ is what needs to get replaced with something positive like ‘ at least try your level best’. I think we all should give at least a try to every single thing which we think we can’t do.Your article has helped!
    Are You Able to Control Your Emotions?
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  6. This a great reminder for me to revisit my creative side. I used to write-poetry, journals and books. I stopped it all when I tried to get a book deal and was rejected by many publishers. I talked myself out of pursuing my dream as an author. Now I know I need to make time to write everyday.

  7. What you say about parents beating our creativity out of us is so true! We need to have the courage to break our social conditioning and reclaim our creativity if we want to live our greatest lives.

    Thanks,
    James

  8. I would just lime to say thank you very much. I have been soul searching for this answer, you are a true angel walking amongst us.

  9. I have really been down on myself for not pursuing my creative potential, especially when I was a creative one as a kid. I definitely get caught in the same room with both mr. creative and mr. critic and it really holds me back. It is as simple as just doing it. So I thank you for posting this, it really speaks to me at this point in my life.

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