I have written about creativity here before. When Brene Brown’s TED talk first went viral, I read a couple of her books and she is BIG on creativity. She does not believe anyone can be a whole, healthy and happy person unless they are actively pursuing and indulging in creative endeavors.
If I am honest, I have a love/hate relationship with creativity. I love the idea of it, but I feel totally inadequate for the journey. If I had a nickel for every time I have uttered something like: “I’m not creative.” “I don’t speak ‘craft’.” or “I can’t make that.” I would be able to buy as many door wreaths, Christmas garlands and table centerpieces as I wanted.
I recently came across additional research in this area that spurred me to explore it again. A group of toddlers were tested on creativity and 98% of them scored in the genius level. The same kids were followed and tested as they aged and by the time they were young adults, only 2% of them still maintained a genius level score. Why?
I do believe we are all meant to be creative. Genesis 1:1, the very first thing we read in the Bible, is “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” NASB God formed our world from nothing. It boggles my mind to think that some people believe it all happened by accident. We have to acknowledge an omniscient and all-powerful creator to truly appreciate the complexities of just one human body. All those systems don’t work together by chance.
Genesis 1:27 tells us “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” NASB God formed us out of the dust of the ground to be like Him. So if he is the ultimate creator, then we also are creative. Even if we don’t feel creative, we have an innate desire to be. I think the rise and popularity of Pinterest proves this point. As of January of this year, there were 150 million Pinterest accounts representing over 75 billion ideas. And “pins” containing the abbreviation DIY, get the most play. Even if we doubt our abilities to make, Pinterest provides us a world where anything seems possible – as long as you stay away from the Pinterest Fail websites.
So why do we doubt ourselves creatively? I think comparison is a major culprit. I have an incredibly talented sister who can sing, sew, take photographs, bake beautiful confections and master just about any craft she puts her mind to. I am so proud of her and the gifts God has given her, but the ugly green monster occasionally rears its head when I wish I could do what she does. With the popularity of social media, we are all suffering from comparison sickness more than ever before. Not only can we post our perfect crafts and creations for all to see, but we can broadcast how much fun we are having, how good we look and how successful we are to the envy of all our “friends”.
I think our fast-paced, accomplishment-driven society discourages us from creative endeavors as well. It takes time and practice to cultivate such ventures. Chasing a passion for art, whether it is sewing, painting, baking, etc, may involve taking classes, collaborating with others, trying different techniques, and repeated attempts. All of that takes time. Time away from the rat race. Time away from making money. Time away from “productivity”. We have to quiet the noise around us to access the innovative recesses of our minds. And our culture isn’t very conducive to giving us this space. I recently happened across an award-winning short film that speaks to this creativity void. If you have a few minutes, watch here.
So how can we overcome our own doubts and the fast-paced world we live in to recapture some of the creativity with which we were born? I think it’s an uphill battle, but one worth fighting if we want to lead more fulfilling lives and reconnect ourselves to the Creator of the Universe on an entirely different level.
The first thing we must do is kick comparison to the curb. This is no small task. We have to stop putting our projects in a contest with any others. If we can set aside the final outcome and create for it’s own reward, the outcomes will become more and more pleasing to us as we continue and practice. And along these same lines, we have to find the creative pursuits that fuel us. Just because my sister can sew, doesn’t mean that I need to. Example: when Bible journaling started catching steam a year or two ago, I wanted to run out and buy a wide-margined Bible and start communing with God through my own scripture illustrations. I didn’t. Because I know that my inability to draw a stick figure would frustrate me more than encourage me in my spiritual walk. But I came up with another idea. I contacted my friend Heather, who is a great artist, and asked her to create scripture coloring pages. And she did. I can almost stay in all the lines and it is a very relaxing way for me to meditate on scripture and be creative in choosing colors and patterns on the page. Think outside the box. Your creativity doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s.
The most challenging step toward creating might be carving out margins. It has been for me. In a culture that seems to value how much we accomplish over all else, it takes a major mental shift to relax and just enjoy “being”. Being quiet. Being still. Being with materials. All this “being” is necessary to truly access our ingenuity. And using our imagination is only one of MANY reasons we need down time. If you tend to be ruled by your calendar, it may be necessary to make a standing appointment with yourself. Pencil in an hour or two once or twice a week when you know you won’t be interrupted and sit with the medium of your choice. Blank paper and pens, a canvas and paint, a coloring book, sewing machine, baking supplies or fingernail polish and design ideas from the internet. Your imagination is the only limit. If you don’t start to really look forward to this time, you might need to choose a different project. But don’t give up. Something will stick. And you never know where it will take you.