You might not like to hear this, but the magic resides in letting go. Brave, radical, letting go.
There are many ways we stop ourselves from accessing the wild, raw & free creative expression that we yearn for.
Here are two
-Being unwilling to create something “ugly”
-Protecting the “good” parts of our work so much that the whole thing becomes stiff
Both are about letting go. Both are doorways to the artist you have been yearning to be.
In giving ourselves permission to mess up and, god forbid, create something “ugly” we set ourselves free. When we do this we create the very real possibility for ourselves to discover things that might not have been available to us if we had “stayed home”.
I'm teaching an art class right now to a group of about eight women. I am quietly watching - (with compassion, because I do this sometimes too) as every single one of them puts this immense pressure on themselves to produce something beautiful or “good” - painting a flower and then frowning, dejectedly that it is not quite right, or is disappointing in some way, even sometimes, refusing to participate in the next part of the exercise that I had planned out for them, because they like their piece the way it is and are scared to ruin it. Here I am saying, “Come with me on this ride, this adventure - let’s play!” And there they are in their chairs looking up at me with a sort of panic in their eyes, knuckles gripping their chair arms - “no I’d rather stay here where it is safe”
I've been very intentional with my clarity around how our goal in this 6 week class is first and foremost to explore and play and have fun - to see if we can allow something from beyond our rational minds to emerge and create something interesting through our hands. And on some level they are excited by this and agree with me, but when the rubber hits the road… all that conditioning to be good, to make acceptable, likeable things comes rushing in. It can seem overpowering. And it is the ultimate creativity mood killer.
This quest for perfection is an endless, frustrating, unattainable loop - we can not perfectly create the things we see in our minds anymore than we can exactly imagine the hotel room that awaits us on a long anticipated vacation.The magic resides in letting go and allowing what IS in front of us to delight us in the way only IT can.
We struggle so much to create a perfect thing that we think others will like, or will be “good” that we miss the magical essence of our work - which is that WE MADE IT. US! with our unique handwriting, vision, voice, ideas, perspective, colour sensibility…. Every single thing we could create is absolutely unique and could only be created by US. The thing that you hate about your art is actually what makes it so special, and it is YOU. It is heartbreaking to me that we spend most of our time trying to transcend the thing that makes our art so special, to try to create something else!
The other thing I see us doing is falling in love with a certain element of a piece and stiffening up around it to protect it. Life needs to move, and change, it needs to be fluid.
Whether you are writing your first (or 10th) book, song, or poem or you are painting, drawing or throwing pottery, when you fall in love with, and start trying to protect one part of a piece from the rest of it, the whole thing ends right there, ever notice that? It is a little like trying to protect a child from the big, wide world.
In episode 07 of The Creative Genius Podcast, Pamela Bates talks about how when we hold something too dear, it tends to get in the way of us finding our way to an even more special thing that wants to happen through us. Make sure you listen to this episode so you can hear her terrifying (and marvelously wonderful) advice on what we can do to practice and start to truly enjoy the magic of letting go.
The only way to access that deep, raw, wild, well of your own unique channel of creativity is to create, create, create. To do it so much that you can’t afford the mindpower of worrying so much. To exhaust the part of yourself that is bent on controlling the outcomes of your creativity, until it surrenders. Or at least goes off and has a nap.
There is no other way to find what you are looking for than to just set out and start creating.
Trust yourself. Stop looking outside for validation. Imagine a big red stop sign popping up in front of you when you even think about being harsh with yourself or judging something you made. Focus on the need to create. The desire to create is itself, the map.
And take the Creative Genius Challenge - create something every day for a week and refuse to let yourself say or think anything bad about it. It’s harder than you think AND has a bigger impact than you might imagine.
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