Am I Creative?: 4 Tips to Unblock and Rediscover Your Inner Creative
“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up”
- Pablo Picasso
When I read this quote years ago, it struck a chord from deep within me. Not just in a “yes, I agree” type way, but in nostalgic, longing type of way that I couldn’t quite brush off.
As a kid, I loved doing anything creative - singing, drawing, I even loved to act in school plays and church skits. But as I grew up, I didn’t make time for any of that because I was busy with other things like school, work, relationships, and all the other things that come with adolescence and adulting. The creative in me was neglected for so many years that I wasn’t even sure that I had it in me anymore.
Then in 2015, right after I decided to quit my job, my sister-in-law gifted me the book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It changed everything for me because it allowed me to rediscover my inner artist in a deep and profound way. It helped me evolve from someone who wasn’t sure she was creative anymore to someone who started fearing less, creating more, and believing in the dream that I could pursue something creative for a living.
I feel like so many of us wonder if we’re creative or talented enough to pursue those dreams that linger inside of us. Today though, no matter who you are or what life has thrown at you, I want to tell you that you are creative and you are talented enough. It may take some time and nurturing to let the creative in you feel safe again, but it’s definitely still there - just as it was when you were a small child coloring outside the lines and playing make-believe.
Today, I’d love to share a few things that have helped me rediscover my inner creative in hopes that you’ll be inspired to get started as well. These exercises have helped me unblock the fears and beliefs that have held me back for so long, and I hope they will do the same for you.
Start a morning journal
In the book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron has you do something called morning pages, which are three pages of longhand, stream of conscious writing that you do first thing in the morning, every day. You are encouraged to write down anything and everything that comes to your mind and fills your thoughts. There’s no right or wrong way to do them, and these pages are for your eyes only.
This method of journaling isn’t just great for unblocking your creativity, but I really believe it’s the best type of self-therapy that you can practice. For me personally, it’s revealed a lot of the feelings and thought processes that held me back - not only from tapping into my inner creative, but from moving forward in many areas of my life.
Over time, I’ve seen these pages give me the insight and power to see where my attention lies, what’s weighting me down, and what needed to change in order for me to become a healthier and happier version of myself. This eventually allowed me to unblock all the things that were in the way of rediscovering my inner creative.
Morning pages, in my opinion, are the best first step you can take towards rediscovering your creative self, and I would love to encourage you to start them if you’re feeling blocked in any way.
“Morning pages map our own interior...Using them, the light of insight is coupled with the power for expansive change.”
- Julia Cameron
Make a creative wish list
What are some creative things that you would try if it didn’t sound too crazy, too lavish, or too far-fetched? If you had all the time and resources in the world, what are some things you’d like to do? Jot down everything that comes to mind.
My list might look something like this:
Attend a month-long botanical painting retreat in Europe
Take a ceramics class
Learn how to sew
Refurnish and redecorate our house
Write a book
After brainstorming at least 10 things, take a good look at your list. Some of the things might surprise you and some won’t, but what they will do is reveal to you that you do indeed have creative desires inside of you. Acknowledging these desires and allowing yourself to dream are great first steps in nurturing your inner creative.
You don’t have to act on these creative desires right away, but writing them down and putting them out there might spark the beginning of your creative journey. Add to this list whenever something new or exciting comes to mind and see where it takes you. Maybe it’ll encourage you to enroll in that online course you’ve been thinking about, or maybe it’ll lead you to your local art store to pick up some new supplies to play with.
Whatever it may be, let yourself dream and continue to acknowledge those dreams. They’re there for a reason.
“The things that you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.”
- Fabienne Fredrickson
Find or create a safe space to play and explore
A big reason why a lot of us don’t take that first step in doing that creative thing we’ve always been interested in starting is usually because of fear. You might feel anxious about starting something new or scared to be bad at it. Maybe you’re worried people will judge you or shame you for picking up a “silly” hobby. In order to quell those initial fears and anxieties, we first need to find a safe space for creating.
After years of silencing my inner artist, the way I got back into doing anything creative was by teaching myself calligraphy. Late in the evenings, after a full day of work and a long night of PhD classes, I stayed up late after everyone fell asleep and practiced calligraphy at my desk. For the first few months, not many people even knew about this new creative outlet of mine.
What’s a safe space for you? Quiet evenings exploring something new at your desk? A local workshop with friends? The neighborhood coffee shop with your favorite music playing in your headphones? Safe can mean different things for different people, so the first step is to ask yourself in what environment you feel safe to explore your new interests, and then the second step is to create or seek out that space.
Julia Cameron says learning to let yourself create again is like learning to walk. You must go gently and slowly, expecting to tumble and fall. It might be tough in the beginning, but they key is to start in a place where our inner artist feels protected and safe. Once that space is found, you’ll be able to play and explore freely. And that’s when the real magic will happen.
Keep showing up
I’ve shared this time and time again, but consistency is key. Creativity is like a muscle - we need to flex and work it out consistently in order for it to grow and function at its greatest potential. Whether it’s creating every day or only creating on the weekends, find what works for you and remember keep at it.
Remember that it’s all about progress, not perfection. Keep showing up, putting in the work, and continuing to have fun. Keep feeding your passion and create adequate space for it in your life. Before you know it, you’ll find your inner creative happy and thriving, demanding for more.
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
- Maya Angelou
So to answer the question “Am I creative?", YES YOU ARE.
I truly believe that we were all born creative, with the desire and talent to create beautiful things that are special, unique, and meant to be shared with the world. Tapping into that creative side of us isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially if it’s been blocked and neglected for most of our adult lives, but it’s absolutely possible to rediscover it and nurture it back.
I hope this post encouraged you, even in the least bit, to allow your inner artist to have a louder voice and take up more space in your life.
Cheers to new beginnings on your creative journey!