What If I Am Just Not Creative?
Perhaps it’s because I do creative things that I’ve had many people tell me they wish they could draw/paint/sketch, but just aren’t creative.
And I’ll be honest with you, every single time I hear someone say that, I think:
It’s too bad that this person doesn’t believe in their own abilities
It’s too bad that the joy of creating things is being suppressed
It’s too bad that they don’t see the same potential in themselves that I see in them
And I wonder where this story came from.
Does this describe you? Do you think you’re just not creative enough to draw/paint/whatever it is that you’ve been wanting to try?
I’m here to tell you you’re not alone in believing you’re not creative/artistic/talented enough.
I think it’s more common than not. But like I mentioned, it’s a belief - a very limiting belief - and not a fact.
I took a poll on Instagram because I was curious how many people believe they aren’t creative and also let it hold them back from pursuing their hobbies/passion/crafts.
Here’s what I found out from my audience:
Side note: For the 43% that think you’re not creative but don’t let it hold you back - good for you! But if I could offer my point of view: If you’re creating despite that belief, you’re already being creative and therefore you ARE creative. It’s just time for you to own it.
So if you thought that this blog post was going to be me helping you prove to yourself that you’re not creative and gently telling you that it’s alright for you to give up, sit on the sidelines and watch others do what you want to do...sorry, that’s not what this is going to be about!
Instead I want to offer a little perspective in hopes that it will begin to shift your mindset about this limiting belief. Because once you do, you’ll be able to start pursuing your creative interests. And I bet that after you start creating without self-judgement, you’ll wonder why you didn’t get started sooner.
WE’RE ALL CREATIVE, HERE’S HOW I KNOW
So how do I know you’re creative? I haven’t seen your drawings or paintings. You tell me you don’t have an artistic bone in your body. You’re terrible at picking colors. The list of examples goes on and on. And I totally get it.
But who is the decision-maker for which colors should go together or whether or not your painting is good or bad? And who gets to make the call on whether or not you are artistic?
The answer is you, and only you.
Think about children and how freely and joyfully they create. I bet that was you when you were young too. Crayons, make-believe forts, imaginary stories we made up during play time…we were all creative as children.
When were young we didn’t judge ourselves and we weren’t afraid of judgement from others.
There’s a quote I saw the other day for the first time that is perfect for this:
So that’s how I know you’re creative. Because you always have been. We were all born that way.
For some of us, our creativity has been in hibernation. For others, it’s been put in an old tin box and buried in the ground. Probably after an experience like actually being told “You’re not talented enough”.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t be uncovered again. The good news is, at least you know for certain it’s there.
ONE WAY TO START UNCOVERING YOUR CREATIVITY
You might think that I would suggest getting to work on finding your creativity by actually creating, but it’s not.
The creative process is different for each individual, but I do believe where it starts for everyone is mindset. This is why I spent the first section talking about the limiting belief of not being creative. If you can begin to shift your perspective on ‘not being creative’ as a limiting belief, you can open yourself up to changing.
And then, when you set out to create, your mindset will be one of excitement and not fear. Imagine sitting down to draw with the feeling of “hey I can do this, I just have to start and practice” instead of “oh no, I’m probably going to mess this up because I suck.*
We all know that mindset isn’t the easiest thing to change. Especially if the beliefs we’re trying to change have been around for years and years.
So I want to share the one thing that helps me most often with mindset: Reading.
Reading is about being open to listening to other people’s perspectives. (Like what you’re doing by reading my post right now!)
When I was first rediscovering my own creativity, there were a few books that helped me a lot with my mindset:
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book was actually the very first book I ever read specifically related to creativity. At the time that I read it, I was so creatively stuck that I remember being so moved that my eyes actually welled up with tears.
It’s a very easy read and others that have read it have told me they really enjoyed it as well.
“Fear is always triggered by creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates uncertain outcome. This is nothing to be ashamed of. It is, however, something to be dealt with.”
- Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
This book is a 12-week process to recover your creative self. It was gifted to me by a good friend and I can’t thank her enough for sharing it with me. If Big Magic is an introduction into the world of rediscovering your creativity, then the Artist’s way is the deep dive.
Each week you do a series of reflections/exercises and along with daily journaling and weekly artist’s dates. If you’re wanting to truly sit down and put in active work towards uncovering your creative self again, this is the book you’re going to want to get.
“But do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to really play the piano / act / paint / write a decent play? Yes . . . the same age you will be if you don't.” - Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way
Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown
Brené Brown’s books are among my favorites for general mindset. This one spoke to me the most during the time I was creating for myself and posting on social media. Sharing your art can be vulnerable whether or not it’s publicly or privately to people you care about. But we need to remind ourselves that we are not creating to get other people’s approval. We’re creating it for our own joy. And if we can remember that, it makes creating and believing in our own creativity that much easier.
“Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.” - Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness
HOW TO TAKE THE FIRST STEP TO CREATING AGAIN
If you’re ready to push aside the belief that you’re not creative and start creating, then it’s pretty simple: start with step one.
Whatever it is that you want to pursue, just take the first step.
Be careful not to overwhelm yourself and make it harder than it has to be. It’s easy to overthink things and even before taking the first step, you might find yourself going down a rabbit hole looking at other people’s work. Before you know it, you may end up playing the comparison game.
And when you finally surface from the rabbit hole, you realize all you’ve been doing is browsing OTHER people’s work instead of making your own. I know this because I’ve done it myself too many times.
So what’s IS step one? Step one is figuring out what you want to create and getting set up to do it.
If it’s watercolors, some examples of step one would be:
Registering for an in person workshop (where you’ll be given supplies)
Signing up for an online class (where you can take the instructor’s supply suggestions)
I’m intentionally suggesting a very simple first step. Often times we overwhelm ourselves before we even get started. But taking the first step will lead to the next one.
MOVE FORWARD AND MAKE MISTAKES
Hopefully this post has helped get you thinking about the belief that you’re not creative. I believe in everyone’s ability to be creative, especially yours. I also know that without taking action and moving forward, we’ll never know what we’re capable of.
Remember with creative pursuits, mistakes are part of the process. Without making mistakes, you’ll never make progress.
When I sit down to create something, I tell myself it’s not going to come out great the first time, or the second, and maybe not even the third. So if I want to get good at something, I better get going so I can get the mess-ups out of the way and make room for the good stuff to come out!
So I hope that when you begin creating again, you’ll remember the quote above. Keep painting, keep drawing...do what brings you joy. And by all means, try not to compare yourself to others. You are at a point on your own path. They are on theirs. Celebrate your breakthroughs and be thankful for the mistakes that inevitably will teach you lessons that will make you better.
If you found this post helpful, I’d love to know so that I can provide more posts like this in the future (or not). Please leave me a comment below and let me know what you thought!
As always, thank you for reading,
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