Warrior Artwork

So you think you’re not creative? Think again!

You’ve probably heard some of your friends or workmates say, ‘I’m not the creative type’. Maybe you’ve even said it about yourself.

As a writer and creative strategist*, I hear this all the time from clients and friends. And I tell them it’s simply not true.

Everyone is creative.

Researcher and bestselling author, Brené Brown has spent the past two decades researching shame, courage and vulnerability, and through her research she identified 10 guideposts for wholehearted living – one of which is Cultivating Creativity.

Brené says, “There is no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. There’s simply people who use their creativity and people who don’t.”

As a self-confessed “non-creative” person, Brené said she never saw the importance of creativity, she only saw it as a waste of time. But through her research she discovered that “unused creativity is not benign, it doesn’t just dissipate … it metastasizes … it turns into grief and rage, and judgement” and she realised that “to be human, is to be creative”.

But you might be thinking, “I can’t draw to save my life!” And you may be right. 😉

Seriously though, creativity is not just limited to art or craft, writing or music, dancing or performance. Creativity comes in many shapes, sizes and forms.

From the dad who makes funny faces on his kids’ pancakes with maple syrup in the morning, or the manager who allows their employees a day off a month to pursue their passions, or the teacher who tells their students to find as many ways to fail at a problem as they can find, to the two year old who finger paints on the table with their spaghetti.

Creativity at its heart is the ability to imagine and invent, to innovate and discover new ideas and ways of expressing, doing, being.

Don’t we all do that?

In her book, Big Magic, bestselling Eat Pray Love author, Liz Gilbert says, “you don’t need anyone’s permission to live a creative life”.

“You want to write a book? Make a song? Direct a movie? Decorate pottery? Learn a dance? Explore a new land? You want to draw a penis on your wall? Do it. Who cares? It’s your birthright as a human being, so do it with a cheerful heart. (I mean, take it seriously, sure – but don’t take it seriously.) Let inspiration lead you wherever it wants to lead you.”

Now maybe you don’t want to draw a penis on your wall, but her point is well made. To live a creative life, we don’t need to make it our profession, or even become a master of a particular type of creative expression, we can simply find ways to create, as humans have done through millennia.

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve loved to sing. I would belt out ABBA songs with my siblings in the lounge room for countless hours, singing into my blue hairbrush, and imagining myself on a stage some day with a spotlight in my eyes and the crowd cheering.

But somewhere along the way, this dream fell by the wayside. Perhaps it was crushed under the boots of someone’s criticism, or through comparing myself to famous singers and thinking, “I’m never going to be able to be that good.” So I gave up.

Sure I still sang in the shower and in the car, but I never went to singing lessons or explored the idea of singing in any serious way. Until last year.

 At 47, I started taking singing and piano lessons and just recently I made my singing debut at the Singsational music concert at a local primary school, with a Judy Garland song from the original, A Star is Born movie, called “The Man That Got Away”.

As I watched each student get on the stage and perform, at various levels of ability and confidence, I was struck by the courage and vulnerability of these creative individuals. 

There were plenty of times during that 50 minutes as I waited for my turn that I thought am I going to look like an absolute idiot on stage, will I forget my lyrics, will I trip over the stage, will I…, will I…, will I…?

As I watched my creative peers – who were sooooo much younger than me – get up, despite their own nerves and vulnerabilities, I was inspired to stand up there too. And I did. And my hands shook and my lip quivered. I remembered my lyrics, but stuffed a note.

But at the end there was applause, and “good on yous” and my singing teacher gave me the thumbs up. And more than that, I felt pure exhilaration and joy. I loved the experience and sang my heart out and expressed my creative soul. And I will probably do it again at the end of year concert!**

Now you might not be ready to jump on stage, but all you need to do is take one step. Find something that brings you joy and allows you to imagine, to invent, to innovate, to discover and to express your own creativity. And just do it.

It’s in there. It’s in everyone. All you have to do is give yourself permission to create.

Article was first published on The Women’s Pic.

Annette Loughlin-Smith is a writer, Reiki healer, creative strategist and business coach. She works with women and businesses to help them find and sing their Soul Song. 

* A creative strategist brings ideas and innovation to life through an actionable strategies and planning. 

** Author’s note: I did get up at the end of year concert and sang, “I dreamed a dream” from Les Misérables and I wasn’t even half as nervous!

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