Creatives are a wonderful bunch of individuals. Talented, passionate, caring, bold. We are a group that delights in making and sharing that joy with others. However, when we begin to put the wants of others first in our creative practice, when we allow someone else’s ideas to direct us in our creative process, we dim the joy and fulfilment of creativity in our own lives. That’s not to say we can’t or shouldn’t build creative businesses, do projects for friends and family, or use our skills to create gifts or use in the day job. Today we are exploring the idea that creativity is driven by the person wielding it first and for others second and the importance of recognizing what can happen when we give our creativity away to the direction of others.
Why We Create in the First Place
It’s important to begin this discussion, well, at the beginning of a creative’s journey. That first step into the realm of creativity is a big one; one that is driven by one’s own sense of passion and curiosity. We often begin creating because we enjoy it. We find an outlet for our energy or emotions and run with it. The creative journey is one that we must embark on because we choose to. It is our desire to do or to make that awakens our curiosity for creativity. If I harken back to the moments I chose my creative paths, I can clearly pinpoint the moments I wanted to create as times I had a desire for something that wasn’t being supplied to me. The desire I had wasn’t to simply create, but to create something I wanted as a reader, as a dancer, as a choreographer. I wanted to write the story I wanted to read. I wanted to dance in genres that inspired me. I wanted to create pieces that said what I wanted to say. Every time I step into a new creative element it is because I want to make something for myself, to express myself in that medium. I create for myself first, because I am the only one I need to satisfy with my creativity.
Finding Our Creative Power
Once you get a taste of the desire to create, creativity becomes a thread throughout the activities of your life. Now it’s time to hone that creativity and turn it into creative power. Your creative power is so unique to you. Creative power is the impact your creativity has on your life. Is your creative power in finishing projects? Is it catharsis? Is it emotional expression? Is it skill mastery? Is it inspiration? Is it connection and community? Our creative power is the fulfilment value we receive from giving to our creativity. In this journey of creative power we often begin to see ourselves emerging as a creative force to be displayed out in the world. From social media pages, to starting a creative business, using your talents to make gifts for friends and family or giving back to your community, we can become trapped in this palace of producing for others. This may look like commission work, meeting quotas, being directed by a creative director in a job setting. Although none of these situations is inherently detrimental to your creative power, little by little allowing others to steer your creative power gives them more control over it, than you, and we begin to feel a lack of fulfilment and joy in the process we once loved and desired.
Building A Creative Practice to Serve YOU
The key to holding onto your creative power is setting up your practice to reflect your creative drive. Your practice should always serve you even when you choose to create for others. Your emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing needs to be at the center of your creative practice. Access to snacks and hydration, tools of the trade that make you smile, a playlist or silence to get lost in, spaces that leave room to play, and an air of grace always make a huge difference when you sit down or get moving for a creative session. If you are exhausted, burnt out, unable to complete a project, constantly starting over, these are signs your practice does not serve you. You want to leave a session feeling some sense of victory, even if all you did was sit and stare at a blank screen for an hour. The heart of building a practice that serves you in your creativity is remembering and centering it all around your why. This is the space in which you get to play and explore. That is serving you to grow and expand in new and exciting ways even when it feels tough. When you are being pushed by outside sources to do the thing, beyond your limits or in a direction that you deeply dislike, it’s time to stop what you’re doing and redirect your energies into something that will serve you in that moment, not them.
Balancing Fulfilment and Sharing
This can be tricky, but it is essential to holding onto your creative power while still connecting with community and doing what you love. Sometimes keeping your creativity all to yourself is just as difficult as using it to only serve others. We naturally want to share, if not with the world, then with our nearest and dearest. Talking about our creativity is an important part of the creative journey - we need to take up space as we are! However, if we only create to share a post, or give a gift, and we find ourselves stressing over the final product more than enjoying the creative process, we lose that sense of fulfilment we created when we began. Root yourself in your creative why. Once you have a firm grasp on why you choose to create, then you can give of your creativity, sharing your journey and your work with whomever you choose. The important piece here is choice. You have control over where it goes, when, and even why.
All in all, as creatives, we can tend to do for others before we satisfy our own creative joy. Make sure that you put yourself at the center of your process, and do everything you can to make your creativity work for you.