Did You Know that You Are Creative?

Photo by Dennis J Coughlin

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If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that.

– Charles Bukowski

I was listening to an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert a few weeks ago and heard one of the most liberating ideas of my life.

Elizabeth is the author of Eat, Pray, Love. In this interview, Elizabeth summed up an idea about “finding your purpose” that has been gnawing away at the back of my mind for years.

Elizabeth suggested that we should stop worrying about finding our one true passion or purpose in life.

We should stop worrying about finding new ways to be creative.

Instead, we should just follow our curiosity.

That was a revelation for me. Let me explain.

Obsessed with Purpose

I am one of those people that collects obsessions.

I will take a new topic, subject, sport or whatever thing that just walked across my path and I will capture it.

I’ll grab on to it and I won’t let go.

Seriously.

I will take that one thing and I make it my new obsession.

With each one of these new obsessions, my secret desire is that this new thing will become the one true thing in my life.

The one thing that that I’ve been searching for over years. The one thing that I can get busy doing for the rest of my life so when someone comes up to me in the street and says:

“What do you do?”

I can say:

“Well, I do this one thing. I do it all the time and I’m very happy thank you very much.”

There is a desire in me to find a single life long passion.

In my attempt to achieve this goal, I have the tendency to pour all of my energy and creative ideas into that new thing from early in the morning until late at night.

Over the years, that one new thing has taken the form of web design, golf, drawing, painting and I even spent a couple weeks studying the history of China. I’m not sure what the China thing was about, to be honest.

All of those things appeared randomly in my life. A new thing pops up, I get into it and then I focus on it with all my energy. And when I say focus, I mean focus like a laser guided missile with pinpoint accuracy. The kind of focus where you think about that one thing and do that one thing 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Over time, that new thing becomes your life.

As you can guess, that is probably not the most healthy behaviour to acquire.

I take these new obsessions to the point where I am no longer enjoying them.

In the past, I’ve talked about the obsession I formed with my art and why I decided to give it up.

Create Something Authentic Instead of Something Original

Part of the problem is the feeling that we all need to create something original.

Elizabeth explained the difference between being authentic versus being original with your creative endeavours.

We can go out and create something that is original and beautiful. It can be the result of hard, painstaking work and it might look incredible and impressive. People will stop and say, “Wow, that’s really cool. Did you create that?”

We might feel like we need to spend years on a project and drive ourselves into the ground to achieve that kind of reaction.

The other result is when you create something that is authentic.

You create something that conveys your thoughts. Something that paints a picture of truth about yourself or your life.

People will notice it, but more than that, they will be moved. That will be moved by the emotion of the work. They won’t just say, “Wow, that looks really cool!”. They will say, “That moved me.” Or, “I know exactly how that feels! I feel that way all the time!”

That kind of authentic art creates a connection based on emotions. That kind of art goes beyond the hard work and the physical thing you have created.

That kind of art is no longer about drawing perfect circles and lines. It’s about conveying a truth that you have discovered about life and the desire to share that truth with the world.

That is the power of authentic art and that kind of art is hard to create if you are unhappy or working yourself too hard.

Seriously, You are Creative!

The key point here is that anyone can achieve this goal. We can all create something authentic.

You might say, “That’s all nice and everything, but I’m not creative. I don’t have a creative bone in my body.”

Elizabeth suggested that when people say, “I’m not creative,” we should replace the word “creative” with the word “curious”.

So instead of saying, “I’m not creative”, try saying, “I’m not curious”.

That doesn’t make as much sense does it?

Most everyone is curious.

We are all curious about something in one shape or another. It is human nature to be curious.

So being creative isn’t about some big life plan where you quit your job and go on the road painting scenic waterfalls along the coast. Although that does sound nice, doesn’t it?

Instead, being creative is about the simple act of being curious.

The thought in your mind that says, “that thing over there looks cool, I want to know more about it.” Or, “I heard someone mention this book the other day so I think I’m going to pick it up.”

Being creative means being curious.

Being creative is simply following a trail and picking up the tiny breadcrumbs you find along the way.

Do it Afraid

Where will the trail lead?

Who knows! Who cares!

That’s one of the best parts of this plan. If you don’t worry about the destination, then you don’t need to worry about the journey.

Just allow yourself to be curious.

Give yourself permission to try new things, to explore new areas, to uncover little bits of stuff during the day.

Don’t get stressed about your creations.

As Elizabeth said,

“Don’t worry, no one’s life is in danger. You are just writing a novel.”

Or in another example, “Don’t worry because all you are doing is a little pencil drawing.”

Or “Don’t worry because all you are doing is writing a blog post.”

There is no need to be afraid.

Fear, of course, can be a good thing and in certain situations it can stop us from getting hurt.

The problem is that it can also stop us from being curious.

Fear can stop us from writing our novel when the worst thing that could happen to us is that we get a nasty paper cut.

The trick is knowing when and how to turn off the fear. To know when you need to ignore the warning signs since there is, in fact, no real danger up ahead.

With creativity, you have nothing to fear and everything to gain.

Follow your curiosity, even when it scares you half to death.

Now I’M WRiting

Writing is my latest obsession.

It all started because I was walking across the road one day and I saw a sign. I thought, “I’d like to write an article about that sign.”

Simple as that.

Now here I am with this blog and I’ve written 18 blog posts and I’ve just finished the first draft of a book.

I didn’t plan any of this and I never imagined I would be doing this at the start of the year. But here I am.

I was curious and now I am writing.

Today is a great day to create. Take some time to be curious and see where it leads.