Create Your Relationship With Creativity: Show Up

I work with people in every stage of connecting and reconnecting with their creativity. The first question I ask every new writer, struggling storyteller, fresh blogger, and chatty stranger on the street is the same question I ask the Pulitzer Prize winner, the New York Times best selling author, and the Poet Laureate:

What is your creative habit?

A creative habit is what you do to get what’s in your imagination into the real world. It is the repeated, consistent practice of your art. A creative habit is the gateway between your imagination and the real world. Through these gateways, ideas and fantasies find their way out into the open where they can be shared, where they can be seen, heard, touched, tasted, and felt.

How much to do enjoy making someone feel something? How much would you like to see, hear, touch, taste, and know yourself better through your words, your art, your images, your culinary brilliance? How much would you like others to see, hear, touch, taste, and feel what you’re driven to produce?

Start now. I’ll tell you how. Spoilers: it takes practice.

Published authors and celebrated artists know practice is the backbone of creativity. In my experience, they are in tune with why their own unique, individual, often eccentric creative habits work for them and how those habits have changed as the artist has evolved.

To a person, those waiting to create answer the question with a blank stare or an “I’ve been meaning to …” They covet wheels and easels and cram their homes with notebooks and journals and paintbrushes and seed packets and recipe books, but falter at the first step.

It’s not just common to balk at the doing of the thing, it’s normal. If you don’t know how to cross the threshold, if you haven’t got a gateway set up, how can you get from wishing to doing? How do you make someday happen today?

You can yearn for a creative life of joy and self-expression until the cows come home. But what if when the cows come home, it’s for your funeral?

The trouble with someday is that it will always be in the future. Are you okay with somedaying yourself past the grave? I’m not.

Wanting and wishing and daydreaming and hoarding Moleskins is all well and good, and very, very good. If you want to express yourself and explore your creativity, you have to begin.

How? Show up.

Show up to the page. Show up to the canvas. Show up to the soil, the stove, the stained glass. Wherever creativity is calling, show up so it can find you; so it knows to keep calling, because you respond.

Practice being in the place creativity and self-expression want to meet you. Expect shy, stilted, uncomfortable interaction at first. Be okay with awkward conversations, hesitation, forced small talk with the words and images that aren’t quite ready to flow. You will warm up to each other. Still, one of you will come on too strong, the other will send mixed signals, and if all goes really well, you will complete the first foray into writing, sketching, singing, or sawing feeling weirdly embarrassed, elated, relieved, and hopeful—and strangely intoxicated by the idea of doing it all over again.

Because your first time showing up will make you uncomfortably aware of all your unpracticed, raw, inadequate skills, you will be tempted to ghost your creativity. Don’t. Of course it takes effort. Sometimes it takes superhuman effort to muster the courage and humility and grace to show up for seconds with your creativity, the marvelous creature that makes you feel both more than and less than and wonderfully weird and unique and average all at once.

Give it a chance. You are filled with desire for a reason. You want your creativity for all of the amazing things it will bring into your life. For the way colors and flavors will redefine themselves. For the way days will fill with purpose and nights with deeper joy. For the way your step will spring and cloud nine will feel like home.

Give it a chance. A little attention goes a long way. When you return to the page, the canvas, the loom, the songbook, you are in the act of creating a relationship with creativity.

You create your relationship with creativity.

Tend to it. Nurture it. Once creativity can trust you to show up and play with it, creativity will be there for you, open, responsive, ready to collaborate. But you must woo creativity. Fantasize about it. Seduce it. Be there with it, coaxing pleasure, riding the highs and lows, consistent and reliable.

Show up. With intention. With attention.

Practice, practice, practice. Awaken the desire in creativity to give back to you what you give to it.

Begin with one touch.

Pen to page. Trowel to earth. Knife to putty.

Nothing fancy at first. Let yourself be the virgin, the newbie, the novice. You will grow into it.

What’s your first touch? Clay to wheel? Pick to string? Sandpaper to wood?

Close your eyes. Take yourself there.

Inhale. Let’s go.

Easier said than done? Would you like help to get started? Email me; let’s chat. You matter.

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