Permission And The Pursuit Of Passion

image: dancoachcreative

Permission is a word that comes up over and over again when it comes to creativity.

If you don’t feel you have permission to create – and permission to become your most creative – it’s unlikely you’ll pursue it.

You might think that by actually getting down to creating something – anything – it clearly demonstrates how you have given yourself this permission to be creative. Then everything will follow on beautifully.

Well, yes, this is true, but only to a point.

Of course we need this initial permission to sit down (or indeed stand up) and create. That’s a great first step.

But what if we’re only giving ourselves permission to create certain pieces, in certain ways, using certain materials?

What if this permission that we’ve given ourselves actually comes attached with a dozen clauses in the small print that we didn’t even know existed, let alone took the time to read?

Let’s look at an example.

Say you’re a photographer, exploring photography with a new camera.

You did a little research before you got this new camera, to see what kind of photographs it was capable of in the hands of other people.

(After all, there’s little point investing in a piece of equipment that’s never going to do what you want it to, regardless of your talent and input.)

The vast majority of the best photographs you had seen taken by others were of fairgrounds, and neon signs, and colourful street fronts.

So, you get your new camera, and, feeling excited and free, head off in search of your own fairgrounds and neon signs and colourful street fronts to photograph.

Sounds pretty liberating so far, doesn’t it?


What if in fact you didn’t really want to take these kind of photographs?

What if you wanted to instead explore grainy black and white shots of disused farm buildings? Or colour close ups of meadow flowers and grasses?

Why are you trying to photograph other things you’re not that interested in?

Investing in the new camera is great, and on the surface seems like you’ve given yourself permission to try a whole new ocean of possibilities with your creativity.

But if a little voice inside is very quietly saying “No, you can’t take that kind of shot” or “No, there’s not enough colour here, or enough people” or any other kind of “No…” that goes against what you really want to photograph, you are indeed denying yourself permission.

A good friend of mine talks about Passion Projects.

She asks herself whether her current work and direction she’s pursuing is a Passion Project, or something she’s doing for another reason.

If it is for any reason other than passion, it’s very likely she won’t be fully committed, fully engaged, and able to give her best creative talent and enthusiasm to it.

How many of your creative projects are Passion Projects?

Flip this around, and it might be easier to answer – How many of your creative projects are you doing out of some kind of obligation to something or someone other than your own creative passion?

There’s being creative – the basic act of bring something new into being that wasn’t there before. We all do this, all day long, in different ways.

Then there’s pursuing your passions.

Devoting time and energy to the creative projects that stir you, thrill you and excite you right now (not necessarily the ones that you were into last week, last year or three years ago).

You know, the kind of ideas and themes and media that make you feel like a six year old on Christmas morning aware that the bike shaped present by the tree is exactly the same bike shape as the bike you’ve wanted for two years…

Take a close look at the creative projects you’re involved in currently, and the ones you’ve been working on in recent months.

Do they clearly demonstrate to you that you are following your own Passion Projects, and heading where the excitement leads you?

Or do they merely highlight how you’re denying yourself permission time and time again to create the work you really long to create?

Come over and join the conversation and let us know.


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