Advice for Stumped Creatives
Friendly disclaimer: You’re about to read about some fundamental time-tested truths about accessing creativity. However, I don’t have years of experience or piles of fabulous creations under my belt. Actually, accessing creativity and learning to live a creative life is a struggle that I have been grappling with for the past several years. I’m no Picasso, no Steve Jobs, and a Google search of my name won’t yield many results.
I struggled with creativity so much so that that my own body doesn’t create freely and fertility problems abound. I spent years convinced that if only I had a fulfilling creative outlet in my life then in time my body most definitely would follow suit…
At work I acted like a creative dummy and I would just follow orders for so many years. I never produced creative or innovative solutions and would be in awe of how my colleagues would find creative solutions to challenges in business all the time without ever breaking a sweat.
At home I was creatively paralyzed too. I decorated my apartment and everything just came out bare and white. It’s not that didn’t want to dwell in cozy surroundings, I love color, I just had no idea what was nice and what would make my home feel like my own.
These are just a few examples of how for a time, I perceived myself as a creative failure, blocked off from all beautiful inspiration and expression. I read all the books on creativity, and I felt as if I was closed off from all the potential manifestations swirling around in the abyss looking for people ready to bring forth a beautiful expression of creation into our planet.
The thought of creative failure was making me miserable, and I wanted it to stop. I knew that living a creative life is a gift and a joy and I wanted some of that.
So what can I possibly share with you about living a creative life? Only what I’ve learned so far.
Below are 3 crucial realizations that really helped me to get over my creative paralysis.
1. Ditch the ‘fight or flight’ mentality.
This is our body's primitive, automatic response that prepares the body to "fight" or "flee" from a perceived threat to our survival. In other words: stress. You can’t create when you’re running from a lion, so you need get out of that mindset. Whether that lion is your own self-loathing, fear, or whatever past traumatic events in you’ve experience in your life, you have to find a way to relax your anxieties and feel calm and secure.
You just can’t access that divine muse out there when there is a potential threat raging internally and you are fighting to survive. Do whatever resonates with your soul to control and overcome that fear. Meditate, practice gratitude, exercise, whatever works for you. We have so many tools available to us, so choose one that feels good, cultivate it like you’re building a muscle.
2. Lose the shame, learn to love your authentic self.
Everyone is different, there is no one who really fits in everywhere. Learn to love whatever qualities you have that make you different, because for your creations to be really beautiful you will have to go where no one’s gone, and tread where no has before. That becomes easy to do when you are completely comfortable with who you are. Living a creative life means not being a copycat follower or a conformer or a wannabe.
3. Be brave - show the world what you’ve got!
It can be a terrifying experience sharing your work with the world if haven’t internalized realizations 1 and 2. However, once you’re there, being brave becomes a much more playful and satisfying experience and not at all life threatening. Think about a time when you overcame a fear; It can be challenging, but it’s exhilarating in return. Dare to do it and satisfaction is guaranteed!
I may not have become a creativity all-star yet, but I have beautiful daughters and my home is filled with color and I happily take advantage of any opportunity that allows me to get playful and creative. I found work where I am in my element and can excel. So yes, curing creativity paralysis is not simply attained overnight, but I know for certain that with commitment and some grit, living a creative life is attainable even for the creatives who feel desperate, crippled and completely cut off.
Deborah Shay lives in Tel Aviv with her husband and 2 daughters. She loves to learn new things, have fun with her family and friends, sing, dance and practice yoga. You can find her on Instagram.