You’re a dedicated painter. It’s your chosen medium, and you’ve got your studio all set up. Your paints are orderly, your palette is prepared, your canvas propped on the easel. You’re all set to be the creative genius painter you know you are inside.
But despite all this preparation, you avoid the studio. Your setup has become a museum display, a dusty ode to creativity that’s never used. You pass the studio door full of shame and self-recrimination.
You read self-help books. You set deadlines, you berate yourself and try to browbeat yourself to get in there and paint, dammit.
You spend hours wondering what happened. Why? Why? Why aren’t you painting?
What happened to your creative passion? It could be any number of things, and while understanding our the source of our pain can help, often you’ll get further by indulging your creativity instead of trying to discipline it.
How I got unstuck
Years ago, I was rejected for teaching an online course for writers. The honcho nixed me because I’d used incorrect grammar – horror! – and she couldn’t count on me to have proper communication with the students.
I was ashamed enough to want to do something about it. I decided then and there to master the art of writing, or die trying. I knew this was a lifelong endeavor, but by golly, I was committed to perfecting, revising, honing, MASTERING! the art of writing.
Soon afterward, I became restless. I wanted to ditch the revisions for my novel, abandon writing e-books and articles about creativity, and splash playfully into the vibrant world of color.
Color excites me, color engages me, color moves me. I have a powerful and healing connection to color, and after years of the black and white of the writing life, the kaleidoscope of color was calling me more than mastery was.
One art feeds the other
I became enamored of text and image together, in an illustrated journal. Sarah Midda’s South of France inspired me to crack open my own blank journal and fill it with messy scribbles, inarticulate drawings, and color.
My journals exploded with life. I tapped into the joy of creating again. With the journal, there was no master, no need for excellence or proficiency. No dictates to be good, dammit, or die trying. I became more joyful and relaxed.
And guess what? My writing life got better. I kept working on my novel and writing articles and e-books. By shifting the form I demanded my creativity to take, my writing life flourished.
Permission to shapeshift
Shift the shape your creativity takes. It’s worked for my clients. A blocked painter became an ardent video producer and jewelry maker. A filmmaker became a sculptor and photographer.
There’s nothing wrong with committing to excellence in your chosen field. It’s honorable and good, until it squeezes the creative impulse from you and has you avoid the studio instead of rushing in. Creativity demands discipline but it’s also about play, exploration, discovery and fun.
The creative urge is natural and undeniable. It’s our own self-labels and expectations that can dampen this original impulse.
Shame and guilt will not work long-term to generate a creative practice that you thrive in.
I give you permission to try new media without being labeled a dilettante. You have permission to switch media entirely even if you’ve spent years and thousands of dollars investing in one medium. You have permission to be talented in many media, and to give yourself to all and any of them.
What about you? Share your shapeshifting stories here.
- When have you switched art forms and seen a positive result?
- What permission do you need to try something new in order to refresh your creativity?
My Curious Excursions renew your sense of play and creative joy using a visual journal to capture your juju. In Boulder in June, Paris in September, these forays into the world, guided by your journal, are guaranteed to rejuvenate and inspire.