However many books, article and essays you read on how to be more creative, there’s one underlying fact, that if you ignore, means you will never be anywhere near as creative as you can be.
Unless you acknowledge and respect this vital element, you’ll sabotage your creativity time and time again, and be left wondering why you’re so frustrated and unhappy.
I’m pretty sure that you’re no stranger to creative self sabotage? Maybe even got a doctorate or masters in it?
Here’s the crucial point:
Only you can give yourself permission to be as amazingly creative as you can be.
No-one else can do it for you.
Even if everyone else in the entire world said, “Go ahead, you can do it, you have our blessing, go create your heart out!”, if you didn’t let yourself, it wouldn’t happen.
I had recent experience of this myself, something that reared its ugly face again after I thought I got it licked and back in its box.
Let me explain what happened.
In the relationship I’m in, we’re supportive of each other’s individual time, and whilst we consciously plan time to do stuff together, we also have our own time, to do our own things, follow our own passions, see our friends, and so on.
Despite this, I’ve been wrestling for some time (mostly unknowingly) with the issue of spending time on my own creating, whether it be personal creative writing, writing for this blog, or otherwise working on CoachCreative projects.
I realised in one of those “Hey who just turned on that 1000 watt lightbulb in my face?” moments, that I had not been listening to my partner, and instead been making up my own perceived, and fictional, answers to questions I hadn’t even properly asked.
The reality is, she is very supportive and is quite happy for me to say I have some work to do, and I go and do it for however long. Then we come together again at some agreed point, and enjoy our time with each other. It works both ways, I give her the space to do her own things too, and we both feel this is important.
The problem was, like I said before, I just wasn’t listening. Not to my partner, anyway.
Where she was saying: “Of course, it’s fine, go do your work, I’ve got some stuff to do too, let’s meet up later,” I was hearing: “You should be spending every last spare second of your time with me.”
More crucially, I was also hearing: “Your creative time is not important, it can be pushed aside when more important things come along, like dusting a shelf or making a sandwich, or rearranging your books, first by the colour of their spine, then by size, then by publication date…” or a thousand other things.
This voice was not my partner’s at all. It came from deep within me. You can call it resistance, self sabotage, the inner critic, or anything else you wish, the effect is the same.
I wasn’t giving my own creative time and work enough importance or credibility.
I was seeing it as simply a luxury optional extra that I might get round to if I had a couple of spare minutes here and there.
When we have this attitude and approach towards creating, we’ll never get into any kind of creative rhythm, and we’ll never come close to creating anything like the wonderful work we’re capable of.
Plus, even if we do squeeze in a few minutes creating here and there, it’s not at any great depth, and we’re constantly checking the clock to see how long we can justify something as trivial as creating when we have a stack of “more important” stuff to do.
The root of this attitude most often comes from a fear that spending time alone creating is somehow selfish, even self indulgent. We feel we don’t deserve it, when there are so many other demands upon us.
But here’s the vitally important point that we so easily overlook –
When we’re creating freely we’re happier, more fulfilled people. Which means we’re much more fun to be around, and we’re more supportive and kind and attentive to those close to us.
Remember the last time you were completely lost in your creative flow? Wonderful, wasn’t it? You were walking on clouds after, weren’t you, because nothing else in life can make you feel that way.
Spending regular time creating enhances our lives, and the lives of those around us. It’s a double win, there is no downside.
Blaming your lack of creative time on others for not giving you space to create is an excuse, and an easy way out. If you offer the same space to others you’re close to, everyone will benefit. You’ll enjoy time apart more, you’ll enjoy coming back together more.
Don’t let yourself fall into the trap that I did and reply in your head on behalf of those people before you’ve even discussed anything. It’s unfair to both of you.
Remember that only you can give your creativity the important central place it deserves in your life.
Only you can make that decision – that commitment – to create a little each day, and to let the world see what you’re truly capable of.
It’s time to stop the excuses and give yourself permission to create.
Only you can do it. So let’s stop talking about it and do it.
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