The last four weeks of Blog posts, where I’ve probed deep into the psyche of our local creatives, have been truly fascinating and inspiring and it has just made me even more determined to encourage people to try living a more creative life, because I know first-hand, and now from lots of other people’s experiences, the huge well-being and self-worth benefits it can bring.
But that also comes with a responsibility to really try and get under the skin of what holds people back, and it’s all about looking at the positives and the negatives, similar to the light in the picture above (which I learned all about last week…more on this later!)
What I learned from the interviews I did, was that there were a couple of common themes that came through:
And it’s that last quality that I really want to dig into deeper to find out what is stopping you giving it a go and turning that around.
These qualities also applied to the creative writing workshop I delivered this week, where I had four lovely ladies attending. Each had a different wish-list re their writing and what they wanted to achieve from the workshop, but a really common theme was that they felt they just couldn’t write ‘creatively’.
This was mainly because they were used to writing in a very formal or factual way via their careers, a legal secretary, an architect and a HR Director. The other lady, a free-lance Social Media Manager did get the opportunity to write creatively, but only for her clients, not herself.
What this really boils down to is some niggling personal fears, by saying that they didn’t feel they could do it, it sets out that stall of protection and that feeling of ‘Please don’t expect too much of me.’
Of course, I gladly, and gently proved all these ladies wrong, by setting the small boundaries of a task to give them some direction, rather than a scary, overwhelming blank page and saying off you go, and they were all soon squirrelling away, writing furiously and concentrating hard, whilst also laughing at some surprising directions their creatively starved brains were taking them!
It sounds easy, and to be honest in some ways it is, but if you look at the endless list of mind chatter that may be building up and holding you back, it becomes a giant brick wall that soon confirms to you;
Here are some examples in the table below, with some suggestions at to what you can do to squash your negative fiend and move forward!
|The Fear Fiend – what the voice is saying||Flipping Fear on it’s head|
|Mr Grumpy or Mrs Petulant Art, English, Craft teacher said you will never become an artist/ author/ designer so don’t waste your life trying, it’s just not your path, sorry (if you were lucky!).||It could be 5,10,30 years since you’ve left school, so why are you still listening to a voice from the past who has no clue who you are as a human being these days?
However, their negativity can be quite galvanising – go and bloody show them!
|I’m the elder sister, brother in the family, I’m expected to be sensible, I need to pick a sensible, and valuable (in terms of money) career that my siblings will look up to and my parents will be proud of.
Other interests will just stop me being focused on my work / looking after my family/ keeping the house clean.
|Position in the family can have a really big impact on directions you choose from a very young age.
This may take some re-education with your family as to what you feel is valuable in your life and you should be allowed to make your own decisions.
Or probably the more truthful angle, may be to accept that your family may never ‘get it’ and that’s ok so long as you don’t let it effect / spoil the joy of what you want to do. Everyone is different and you may have to just accept that it’s not for them, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be for you!
|Similarly, the role you play in your social circle for example – My friends expect me to be out every weekend or doing social activities with them, they won’t understand if I want to spend my free time on creative interests.||Depending on your role within your group, friends may find it difficult to accept your new direction, they could prefer it to all stay the same and as a result you to continue to feel dissatisfied.
There are two ways here – you can either take them on the adventure with you (if they are willing, eg go to workshops together etc, a different way of spending time together) or you may have to accept that you need to find some new friendship groups to explore a direction in creativity (a writing group for example) and generate support and that feeling of community elsewhere (which we all need as creatives often working on our own).
|I was brave and had a go, but I’m so untalented it was embarrassing, why am I even bothering, I’ll never be any good?||This is easy, why on earth are you being so hard on yourself?
If your 6-year-old son came home with a mediocre picture, would you tell him to never, ever draw again? No of course not!
So why are you expecting to be Picasso or JK Rowling from the first try?
It takes practice, practice and more practice to even start to feel comfortable and happy with what you produce, but you have to TRUST the process, each time you give it a go, you learn, from mistakes, from parts you like, treat it like you are in training and enjoy those little wins and improvements and learn to laugh at those initial mistakes, it’s meant to be fun remember?
|I don’t have time to do this, I’ve so much on looking after everyone else, working, etc etc||Ok no 1, you deserve to have time to yourself, Self -care isn’t being selfish, you’re not saying ‘Me, first, you’re just saying, Me aswell’ as the great Suzy Reading says in her brilliant book on this, ‘The Self-care Revolution.’
No 2. Time is all about priorities, of course there’s never enough time in the day which is why you either have to ask for a little help, or schedule the time in, if it’s important enough to you, you WILL find the time and the best bit? You’ll come back to all the other stuff in a much better and more capable frame of mind.
|I’d really like to try something but feel overwhelmed by it all, I really don’t know where to even begin?||For me, mind-mapping works wonders, write how you want to feel in the centre of the page and then write around the edge all your ideas, as many as possible, then on an inner circle write which ones you’d like to research first and schedule time in to do that.
In order to get going you need to feel excited by what you want to do, so you need to find out more and pin down where that ‘buzzy’ feeling lies. Breaking down the steps makes it feel more manageable and less overwhelming.
|I don’t really want to start on my own, but I’m too scared to walk into a room with a bunch of people I don’t even know?||Firstly I’d say try and find out about groups from people you know that you can go along with to give you that added bit of support. If that’s not available to you, I’d suggest emailing the group leader and explain that you’re nervous.
I’ve yet to find a group that hasn’t welcomed me with open arms but just having someone else there, especially the leader who will more than likely pair you up with someone else, just means that you’ll have someone on your side from the get-go who understands how you are feeling. And the main point to remember is that everyone will have felt exactly the same way when they started.
Now, just to prove before you think otherwise, I am not completely fear-less.
Last week I faced a technological fear, I’m not the best when it comes to buttons and dials and I tend to just press anything with disastrous consquences but I really wanted to learn how to use my DSLR Camera that’s been hiding in the drawers for years because, you guessed it, I pressed a few wrong buttons and my photos suddenly looked very weird!
I found the Sarah Mason photography retreat, not far from lovely Hebden Bridge and asked for it for my birthday, husband duly obliged (win win in his book!).
But just to prove the fear can attack at any time, I downloaded the manual (which we’d lost!) the night before in true last-minute prep style and instantly panicked, it was 200 pages long for goodness sake! I sent a stressed email to Sarah and her reply was music to me ears, ‘It’s fine, we’ll figure it out, just get here and relax!’
Yes please, I’ll take that after 2 weeks with no hot water (if you’ve not seen my stories on Insta you may not know the pain this has caused me!).
So, I arrived after rushing around getting the kids to school, dog quickly walked and following some teeny, tiny roads via Sat Nav, extremely ready to relax!
To say the venue was awesome was an understatement! Added to this Suzi, Sarah’s wife was busily cooking breakfast pastries whilst Sarah welcomed us and talked us through the day, I melted into the surroundings, taking in the amazing view from the huge windows overlooking the valley below, and munching on croissants – all thoughts of nightmare plumbers banished!
The upshot? I loved it!! Some bits were challenging, the group of four retreatees bonded over fiddling and balancing and asking never-ending questions, but once we got the basics, thanks to Sarah’s calm persona and patience, we all were eager to get down to our mini-challenges, and express our creativity.
It was such a lovely group and the food delicious; I’d highly recommend Sarah’s retreats any day and it’s given me a renewed vigour for my photography passion, I’ve even been passing on what I learned to Jake, and he’s loving it too.
So, yes it can be scary, especially if it’s your kind of nemesis, (ie technology for me!) but the benefits far out-weigh that initial anxiety and to me the biggest fear of all in life, will ALWAYS be……REGRET!
So now I ask you, what are you waiting for? I KNOW you can do it.
I’d love to hear if any of this has been helpful for you, and what creative activities you are planning to try, please pop your thoughts in the comments below.
Thank you and until next time…
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
P.s you’ll start to see more DSLR photography from me, once I’ve bought the cable, that enables me to upload the photos…..which of course we’ve lost! Wires are also my kryptonite!