Recovering Your Creative Self

© B. Mongeon 1993

Indigo Sun June 1993

We have heard much about our inner child. Some of us have taken great pains to meet, greet, and love that sometimes lonely, and frightened part of ourselves. Often we have had to search long and hard for that child that has made a constant survival game of hide-and-seek, afraid to come out, and afraid of pain. A part of that same child is our inner creative self, buried deep within, afraid of rejection.

Our misconception of creativity is that creativity is like royal blood – a divine gift bestowed on some and not on others. Or that it is inherited like freckles or red hair. We often look at creative people with awe, and a bit of jealously; however, we are all born creative. We are all born with the same need to know, a desire to formulate, and will to express ourselves. “Every child is an artist,” states Pablo Picasso “The problem is how to remain an artist after growing up.” William Staford writes, “My question is when did other people give up the idea of being a poet? You know when we are kids we make up things, we write, and for me the puzzle is not that some people are still writing, the real question is why did other people stop?”

Hushing the creative self stems from our own fear of rejection, our inherited dysfunctions and our dominant, obtrusive, intellectual left hemisphere. We hear the ghostly voices in our heads – Aunt Ethel stating we could never be a writer with our atrocious spelling. In fear and humiliation we just never tried again. Or the voice of our grandfather stating Uncle Joe was the artist in the family, the talent was not passed down to another. So we packed up our pencil and sketch book, tucked them away with our inner creative child, assured that the genealogy of creativity could never have reached our simple hands.

Recovering our creative self is a decision. Many times students call for classes and I know by the shakiness in their voices that they are afraid, insecure and in need. I know if they got a busy line, or a message was not returned, they might never call again. For some it just took too much effort to call the first time. First time students sometimes explain their artistic experience in those phone calls and some just share a hope of being creative. As in any recovery the first step, however frightening, must be taken.

Those involved in creative recovery also need a sense of support. Safe sources to show artwork to, brainstorm with, and read those first drafts to. It is imperative to find safe places, for the wrong people can set our recovery back. Those who refuse to hear the cries of their own creative child, are not safe sources. They feel extremely threatened by those learning to unleash their creativity, and they often like to manipulate the recovering creative through guilt.

Many times our creative self has been squashed by the rude remarks of adults and on lookers as we were growing up. We fear that rejection so much, the pain of not being accepted, that we often never create again. In our recovery we need to protect that creative self, from others and from ourselves. We must reassure ourselves that renewing our creativity is like learning anything for the first time. We have to allow ourselves some good efforts, and practice, clumsy first drafts, bad poems, and ugly sketches. One women’s fear of the written word was so great she stated, “I am afraid to write because I fear I will write too much, and if I write too much they will laugh, or it will sound dumb.” Her resolution was to not write any words. Her fear was so great and her voices were just too loud.

In writing class I say purge! Write and write – spelling does not matter nor does grammar, in this step of the creative process. If you write too much you can edit later, next week, or next year, but put the thoughts down. Purge with pen and paper until it flows off the paper onto the table and down to the floor. The left hemisphere can revise and organize later but you will at least have something to work with.

Some are so bound by being perfect in their creativity, they feel it is better not to try. To those I say, build a sand castle in the sand. Tomorrow it will be gone. But you will have created and learned, and expressed a part of your self.

This month as a part of discovering your creative self list five things you have always wanted to do. My list changes regularly, and that is okay. I accept that as a part of my life and growth, and not as reason to badger myself with guilt and thoughts of being irresolute. I have accomplished some of my things and because my desires sometimes change, I have given you my most recent list.

  • Learn to Tango
  • Take up fencing
  • Swim with dolphins
  • Take a cross country trip in a motor home
  • Create and market a line of garden sculpture
  • Now take time and list at least one thing you can do to work towards achieving these things.
  • Call a dance club look for classes
  • Contact a scuba company
  • Get information on costs of renting motor homes, plan destination
  • Look up manufacturers, and by all means start sculpting.

Now, it is perfectly okay, however small or great an effort, do something!

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