Sitting with Creativity



4am, wake wide with an image bright and bold in my mind. Fall back to sleep.

7:30 am, wake, groggy and tired. Jump into the morning chaos of making breakfast, passing out multi vitamins, listen to them tell all about the weird dreams they had, while telling them not to argue, to leave each other alone, 'did you brush your teeth yet?!' I love you's and kisses and prayers for a good day. 

9:10 am, time to sit with my own breakfast and think through the day. I've been pushing that image away. Morning time is like survival mode around here. Just gotta get my little army set for the day and off to school. I cannot afford any distractions. Every time that image popped in, it got swatted away because the task at hand was packing lunches. 

Now that it is time to sit and be quiet with this new image, this new spot of golden inspiration, I can take a deep breath. I want to give my creative mind time and space. Room to speak and work itself out. But heres where this practice gets tricky. The big ugly F word always rears its nasty head. FEAR. Something happens and that precious bit of inspiration suddenly gets criticized. Fear comes in and say, really?! You want to create that?! Its too different from what you usually do, people wont respond well to it. Its too similar to what you do and people are getting bored of you. I could never actually execute this idea, I'm a fraud, I'm not a real artist. Its too simple, its too complicated, people wont get it. And on and on it goes. Fear, the accuser of all. It's a weight so heavy, it takes a lot of muscle to push off. Yep, a lot of muscle. And like I said, I'm tired.

So... where to go from here? Something I have learned through my life is this; creativity is suffocated by fear. It may sound strange, but choosing to be motivated by this is a way out. Deciding to say, I'll be damned if that fear kills this creativity. Choosing to be endlessly stubborn about not letting fear win. 

Here's the secret, its just me, my paints and a canvas. No one is watching. Nothing is permanent. So whats the worst that can happen? Really answer that question. The worst that can happen is that it turns out terrible. That I couldn't connect the ideas in my mind to the physical space of the canvas. 

OK, thats not that bad right?! I can deal with that. I can even throw the painting away if I want. I can always try again. And no matter what, I am positive that I will have learned something through the process. I was once told that by doing the work, pursuing the creation and trying, I'd be earning a masters degree in fine arts. Experience is everything. 

When I can think of it this way, the fear seams much lighter and much easier to kick to the curb. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic, speaks about never demanding money from her creativity. I love what she has to say about it and it resonates so deep. If I have a price tag on an empty canvas, planning on it making me a buck before I even paint it, then the stakes are higher, fear is present and ready to suffocate. So a word of advice, don't do it. Don't demand that what ever you create brings in X dollars. And similarly, don't demand that whatever creative activity your are pursuing will bring in X amount of whatever it is you think you need or want.  

A blank canvas, or a camera in hand, creative parenting, organizing, writing, or whatever it is you do, should be ready for YOU. For you, the creator, the artist. Its a waiting vehicle for you to drive through barriers of fear and doubt. Its a place to express and use your individual voice. You're the only one that can. 

Embrace the process. Embrace the failures, always knowing that they do not make YOU a failure. They make you brave. 

Embrace the process. Embrace the wins, always knowing that its an honor to interact with the creativity inside of you. It makes you brave. 

Embrace the process. Either outcome, may you learn to kick fear to the curb, stay humble, and keep creating like crazy. 

Much Love, Kate

Kate Thomas