1. Don’t Let Fear Stop You From Living a Creative Life
Many of us grew up being told that getting a good education and landing a serious job were the keys to happiness. Additionally, many of us experienced failure at creating art. This has led to countless creative spirits not living up to their full potential.
Deciding to pursue your creativity now can feel scary, but it shouldn’t as living creatively doesn’t mean a life of poverty and struggle, nor dedicating your mind, body, and soul to your craft, it just means living a life that’s led by curiosity instead of fear. Surely you can do that?
From painting to poetry, cooking to rock climbing there are no rules on what activity is or isn’t classed as creative Others might see your creative pursuit as crazy but if it makes you feel brave and bold, gives you butterflies in your tummy, and excites your curiosity you know you’re on the right creative path for you.
Have an idea of what your creative passion might be but still feel reluctant to do what it is you love? Perhaps you think you’re not good enough, that you’ve left it too long or too late, that there’s ‘no point’, that you don’t have enough time or money, or that no one will care what you have to say? That’s fear talking. Your brain is stopping you from doing what you really want to do.
Letting go of your fears is far easier said than done, that’s why Elizabeth recommends getting comfortable with your fears, letting them join you on the road to creativity as they can remind you of the things you care about. You see, when you live a creative life, your passions can peacefully coexist with your fears.
2. Grab Ideas and Run With Them Before It’s Too Late
Ideas are mystical things that live, breathe, and grow around us, existing so that someone out there in the world can realize them. You’re likely familiar with the feeling you get when an idea comes to you, it doesn’t let go but you keep pushing it to one side thinking ‘later’, ‘one day’, ‘not now’. It’s really important that you accept and grab that idea before it’s too late - Turn the TV off, turn your phone off, shelve the items on your to do list and work on the idea. If you don’t, the idea will eventually float on to another person who is willing to make it a reality.
Elizabeth saw this problem happen with a friend and fellow author, let’s call her Helen. Inspired by her Brazilian husband, Helen had the idea of writing a novel set in the Amazon jungle but for one reason or another, the idea didn’t come to fruition. At this time, Helen became friends with author Ann Patchett. Funnily enough, Ann had started to write a novel set in the Amazon with the storyline almost identical to Helen’s idea. Both writers were stunned having not spoken to each other never mind swapping ideas. They came to the conclusion, as did Elizabeth, that the idea simply drifted on until it found someone receptive to making it a reality.
3. Create No Matter How Scared You Are Of Failing
Struggle to get started but don’t finish your creative idea? The problem is most likely you as creatives are well known for being their own worst enemy, letting their inner voice that tells them ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘it was a silly idea’ take hold.
Stand up to your inner voice to get out of your creative rut - Say out loud ‘I am a writer’ or ‘I am a talented artist’ and let yourself and the world know that you’re following your passion. Always remember, you are entitled to create so give yourself permission to do so, nothing can stop you, not even rejection which, though a bitter pill to swallow, you should never take personally since the people judging your work are only human and what they deem bad one day, they might deem great the next as Elizabeth found out first hand. She had sent a piece off to a magazine early on in her career, before she had any work published, and was rejected by the editor-in-chief who said the story was good but fell short. Years later, after Elizabeth had some bestsellers under her belt, her agent sent the same story to the same magazine - The same editor-in-chief said that the story was brilliant and that it reminded her of something special!!
Your creative goal doesn’t have to be originality, authenticity works just as well. After all, your art is a cathartic way of serving yourself, not your critics and if it helps you to process your problems or concerns, isn’t that all that matters? Remember the saying ‘Don’t try to be someone you’re not’, the same thing applies to your creativity - be you, create for you, and the recognition will follow if it’s meant to be.
4. Don’t Take Creativity Seriously.
Creatives often struggle with the need to be taken seriously, many getting academic qualifications for this reason. But you don’t need a degree to do what you love, you just need life experience. For example, Elizabeth Gilbert used her life experience to write her bestselling novel Eat, Pray, Love - Her story of finding joy after divorce found through her life experiences rather than a classroom.
So get out in the world, and rather than trying to prove yourself as a serious professional artist, be playful. Whether you’re creating art that’s amusing, angry, intimate, comforting or downright strange, know that it’s absolutely fine for some people to hate what you do as others will love it.
Put simply, you don't have to take creativity seriously, creativity doesn't mean you have to become an artist or a designer, it doesn't need to take over from your day job, you don't need to be good at it, you don't need to have exhibitions, you don't need to earn money from it, you just need to enjoy it! Being creative means doing something that you enjoy, that makes you feel bold or brave and brings you excitement and can range from arts and crafts to baking, writing, even rock climbing. It's never too late to try something new, something that sparks your curiosity, just be sure not to let fear hold you back from trying it and continuing, your fears should coexist with your creativity.
5. Forcing Your Art To Pay Your Rent Will Kill Your Creativity
Artists who enjoy a whimsical, carefree life full of parties with no ‘proper’ job is a fantasy. When artist’s try to live out this fantasy they kill their own creativity since they have to rely on their art to pay the bills. There’s an alternative way - Have an affair with your art by keeping your day job just like authors Toni Morrison and J. K. Rowling did with their writing. This isn’t a cop-out, and doesn’t mean you’re not committed to your art; rather, it can inspire more passion in your creative pursuits as you’ll need to ‘steal away’ from your everyday life for a couple of hours to give yourself the time, and peace, to create. This ‘escape time’ can become something you look forward to and something that keeps you inspired when daily life becomes a drag. By working on your craft this way, you also give yourself a safety net - nothing is riding on you making a success of your art, you have nothing to lose, therefore there are no high expectations that suck your creativity dry through fear of failure.
As Elizabeth mentions in Big Magic: “To yell at your creativity, saying, “You must earn money for me!” is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about, and all you’re doing is scaring it away, because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that."
6. Adopt The Mindset Of The Trickster Not The Martyr
Oscar Wilde once said “the artistic life is a long, lovely suicide.” He believed that to live an authentic creative life there must be self-inflicted suffering and though many artists still today martyr themselves for their creative passion, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Take off the martyr hat and play the part of the trickster instead - Unlike the martyr who adheres rigidly to his principles no matter what, the trickster is light hearted and able to adapt and change no matter what comes up.
Brené Brown learned the trickster’s valuable ways by allowing trust to enter into her writing process when she was struggling with the martyr’s way. She had always found storytelling easy but when it came to writing a novel, she found it a painful process. Deciding to give writing the novel one last try using the trickster’s way, she asked 2 colleagues to listen to her and take notes as she told the stories that would feature in her book. Once she had finished, she took the notes which featured the most important details off and went off to her laptop to turn the notes into stories. She had finally freed herself from agonizing over the perfect plotline and was able to write faster, experiencing fewer writing blocks which meant she could finally begin the creative art of storytelling once more.
How can you make your craft enjoyable again rather than a difficult chore that needs completing?
The above is inspired from the bestselling book "Big Magic." by Elizabeth Gilbert.