I've done almost been 3 weeks of writing everyday, the most vulnerable and engaged writing I've ever let myself writing. I can barely believe it. And during that time, I talked about everything that matter the most to me, but only flirted with the topic of creativity. I tend to treat creativity as being outside the spectrum of what I discuss here, I even thought about posting on creativity solely on my art account. When actually, creativity saved my sanity. And many others’ I worked with all those years.
Disclaimer : I don’t believe we all are closeted artists. We don’t need to become artists to recover or heal our inner child. But I believe we all are creative in some ways, and that untapped creativity is a very dangerous thing for the human heart and mind.
Brene Brown writes : Unsused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgement, sorrow, shame.
I cannot agree more.
I would add that unused creativity manifests itself in our coping mechanisms. I haven’t met people as creative mentally in a toxic way as someone both ignoring their creativity and suffering from mental health.
I am deeply amazed by how much our depression, anxiety, addictions get creative when we don’t create. Very similarly to how doctors can get fascinated by how well designed a disease or smart a tumour can be. Yes, we can get weird and nerdy that way.
I also believe that we’re not wired to be only creative mentally. We need to make things with our hands. Which Dr Brown’s research corroborates in her findings about what she called “Wholehearted living”. There is something very special about creating stuff, any kind of stuff. Of course, there are many ways to apply this principle.
For me, drawing and painting are the best way to nourish my inner artist. They fill me in a way nothing else can. But I also practised many other crafts with great joy. I love cooking and baking. I loved making my own cosmetics for years. I really enjoy sewing. Taking digital and polaroid photographs. Working with clay. Making collages with magazines. Playing music (I have a soft spot for the piano, ukulele and guitar).
The idea is to explore who we are through creativity, in a safest and more playful way than in our life. Because creativity is inevitably accompanied by lots of emotions and the surfacing of everything we feel and are struggling with.
I’m a perfectionist, so I overthink things, tend to procrastinate (perfectionism's evil child) and value control and performance too much. OF COURSE it shows up super hard in all things I try to create.
I only know of 3 other things that connect us as much as creativity to everything we feel and struggle with : meditation, yoga, and journalling. The golden trifecta of direct self-connection.
To go through seriously with any of the four, you need to start your warrior journey to your higher self. Because it will be like looking at a mirror reflecting the deepest corners of your soul.
In a world that values so much emotional control (rather than regulation) and makes its very best to disconnect us to what we feel constantly, I’m not very super surprised so many of us are in Julia Cameron’s words “creatively anorectic”. It is so hard to create.
Anyone who pretends otherwise is most probably lying, or missing the point of it, toying with the concept but not actually in the midst of a creative life in an authentic way, which in some cases is even worse for our sanity than not creating at all.
I like to say something that pisses off some people : making art is playing pretend at life. That’s why it’s such a great recovery tool. It both embodies play, connection to a higher power and deep, raw authenticity : it lets our inner child out, free of roaming.
We cannot create without allowing ourselves to play, to feel, to get out of our comfort zone and our heads. And when we do, it has huge repercussions on our inner and outer life. It impacts who we let ourselves be in a very deep way.
To create sustainably (aka in an enjoyable way), we have to face our struggles, and find a new way to deal with them. We have to freaking GROW through it. Some will only allowed themselves to be their true selves in the midst of making art because of this, not feeling safe enough to translate their new skills at being in their relationships (especially with their family of origin), their work life, the way they see themselves, others or the world.
If you don’t let it change you that way, well, you sign up for major dissonance and discomfort, but I hope you know that’s okay too. We all need some time to digest such change. Some will need a whole life and never actually do. If you let yourself be in that whole way though, oh dear, you’re in for quite a yummy ride.
Creativity will then become both a conduit and a container for growth.
You will be able to practise things that are too hard in real life (like letting go and playfulness for a lot of us) to make them easier.
And you will also be able to take all the beautiful surprises that creativity brought you to develop in new ways in life.
As a side note, dear fellow writer, brainy creative (designers/speakers/videographers…) and digital artist (including photographers), if you read me, please take Austin Kleon’s wonderful advice and go analogue regularly, especially if you have a tendency to overthink, be in a rut or struggle in your craft.
You don’t have to take it as seriously at all, you can let go of performance (actually, it’s highly recommended) and just make it a side project to have pure unadulterated fun.Even if it is as simple as playing with modeling paste or pattern drawing/doodling during your meetings or phone calls. You’re absolutely see your writing/digital stuff improve dramatically.
I recommend not believing my word and try it out instead, you won’t regret using your hands in some ways to make stuff, especially any stuff that feels like play.
Humans are wired to play and use the whole of themselves doing so, we need to get out of our freaking heads, all of us!