Who am I to write this blog on creativity?
Updated: Jul 7, 2020
That was my first thought when I sat down to write this initial post...
Suddenly, my idea sounded a bit, er, grandiose. A bit above my station.
I mean, I've been a writer for over 20 years but... I’ve not written a best-selling novel. I’ve not even written a novel. I’ve not written a Hollywood film. Or even an entire script, ever. And I’ve not had any of my poems published (unless the school magazine counts?!).
I nearly talked myself out of it.
Then as luck (or synchronicity, more on that in a later blog) would have it, an email from Tara Mohr, author and coach, popped into my inbox.
It saved my skin. Or, at least, a nifty wee graphic she’d created, did.
This is it.
So I did the exercise
Unhelpful question my ego was asking me:
Who am I to write this blog on creativity?
As Tara suggests, I changed this to a more ‘helpful creative discernment question’:
“What is bubbling up inside of you that wants to be said?”
Then this came tumbling out of me:
Why does the ‘value’ of creativity have to be measured in monetary ways, in ‘best sellers’ or ‘awards’ or ‘critical acclaim’?
I want to argue the case for creativity for all of us because I believe everyone can benefit from creativity; and the benefits are myriad, not just (or even) financial.
You don’t have to be best-selling, or acclaimed, or even good at your chosen creative pursuit to get benefit out of it. Society is obsessed with achievement and goals and generating money. What about just doing something because you enjoy the process? There’s so much more to creativity than capitalism. And by focusing so much on the outcome of creativity, you miss the most important benefits of it: what you learn and experience through the creative process.
When I think about creative projects I’ve enjoyed, the enjoyment comes from things like:
• The people I’ve worked with and bouncing ideas off each other. For example, I loved working with Jo-Ann Clark on my one-woman show ‘Help I’ve Got Ecoanxiety!’ because, being quite different, we brought different perspectives and skills to the show. We also laughed a lot and had a lot of fun
• The feeling of getting into flow and being lost in something you’re doing that you’re really into; this lifts spirits and is, I think, why a creative practice can help boost your mental health
• The things I’ve learnt doing them. I learnt so much about climate change working on ‘Help I’ve Got Ecoanxiety!’, which is one reason I love freelance writing so much; every commission I learn such a lot in such a short time
• The joy of sharing your creativity once you’ve done it; this is so obvious when you watch young kids bursting with pride when they perform their ‘shows’ for adults, but adults also get much joy from the reveal (whether they admit it or not!)
• The conversations you have with others after you’ve experienced a creative work together. It could be a play, or a film, or an artwork, but I find it fascinating how – as writer Anaïs Nin said – “we don't see things as they are; we see them as we are”. Creativity helps you understand yourself and others
So, this idea that your creativity has got to be ‘good’ before it’s justified to devote time to annoys me so much. That’s such a damaging belief. Just think of all those people who were told that their drawings were rubbish, or they couldn’t sing, when they were in primary school and then that shamed them into stopping creating completely.
Who decides what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ anyway? It could just have not been to that particular teacher’s taste, but their comment would have lived with that child for years, haunting them. You hear of this ALL THE TIME. It’s SO WRONG. These teachers have deprived kids of experiences that could have been so beneficial. They crushed their creativity, which is something Sir Ken Robinson does a fantastic talk about here.
As you can tell with the CAPITALS creeping in, I feel strongly about this. Which showed me that I have something – well, a lot, actually – to say on this matter. So that kind of renders the question of ‘who am I to write this blog?’ irrelevant.
The next question Tara gets you to ask is:
"Is this work authentic to you?"
The answer, I think, is clear from my answer above. YES.
Then she asks:
“Is doing this meaningful to you? ”
Yes. If I can encourage myself, and hopefully others, to commit to being creative, regardless of whether it’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but because I/we value the process, then that will feel meaningful to me. And that’s what this blog is going to be about.
Then her final question is:
“Are there collaborators that would be fun or useful to engage here?"
Ah, she used that word ‘fun’. One of my favourite words – which I’ve already used in relation to my co-collaborator on Help I’ve Got Ecoanxiety! Jo-Ann Clark. In my career to date as a freelance journalist and copywriter, I’ve mostly worked on my own. This has been lonely at times and not ideal for my extravert personality but it fitted around my family, and that was the priority at the time. I’m now entering a new, exciting phase of my life and would love to meet more co-collaborators. Especially fun ones. I hope this blog will be a way to do that!
So, please, if you’re reading this and you have a project idea, or would just like to say hello, do get in touch. Until then, happy creating, and to be sure you don't miss future blog posts, please do sign up to my newsletter.