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Inspiring Creativity Anthology
Creativity is Your Birthright : Page 4

Creativity is Your Birthright

By Dave Storer

continued from page 3

When I say "fake it 'til you make it," what I should more accurately say is, "even though your chosen creative identity feels unreal somehow, if you keep doing it — keep working at your art with all of your heart and muscle — sooner than you think, you will be perfectly comfortable with that identity and so will most everyone you know." The identity comes from the doing of it.

Similarly, many of us worry that we aren't passionate enough to be "real" artists or writers, etc, but again, this is chicken/egg thinking. Your passion for a creative activity may be dampened by the internal and external resistance that keeps you from the actual creating. I promise you that the more deeply and often you get into your art, the more passionate about it you'll become. The equation is not:

NO PASSION = NO PERMISSION

The true equation is:

DEEP CREATIVE INVOLVEMENT --> (leads to) PASSION FOR YOUR ART

Finally, let me discuss the issue of "talent." Clearly, there is such a thing as talent in every art form. I have no doubt that some artists have more raw talent (genetic "giftedness") than the rest of us, but I think the idea of talent, or the lack thereof, is one of the easiest excuses people use to avoid the hard work necessary to achieve their creative dreams.

Most of us couldn't become concert pianists no matter how hard we tried, but on the other hand, how many of us try that hard? How can you be so sure you're not "gifted" enough to achieve your creative goals? A fair number of successful artists, musicians, and writers downplay how very hard they've worked to get where they are, and if they do this, it may be just to enhance their image as "naturals."

But "talent" is nothing more than a predisposition to do something well. At best, it's a head start, at worst it becomes a curse of impatience, arrogance, and over-confidence. Remember the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare! It applies here precisely. Some successful artists promote their own genius myth because it sounds a lot better than, "I just worked my butt off." And it keeps the rest of us from realizing we could do it too, if we truly dedicate ourselves to the art forms we love, and put in the necessary time and effort.

Another problem is that we're often afraid to reveal our true selves — our deepest dreams and wishes — afraid to put them out there in public where a stranger's rejection or ridicule can chop off our dream as quickly as a guillotine blade slicing through a neck bone. So we seek creative permission in order to feel safe in our creating, safe from rejection and ridicule, but the hard truth is that we're never completely safe when we're creating something new. We may try to hedge our bets various ways, but whenever we create, we are going out on a limb. In fact, we're launching off into the unknown without any guarantee of success whatsoever.

Even experienced, long-successful, wildly celebrated novelists still write the occasional clunker. You never know for sure what the result will be. The best you can hope for is that with time, experience, and artistic growth, you'll improve your ratio of good works to bad. So if you think that some expert's approval of you as an artist somehow guarantees the success of your next project, you're wrong.

The long and short of it is, don't give anyone sovereignty over your own true creative needs and interests. The creative process is everyone's birthright; artistic skills are everyone's to acquire and develop and, most important, as we create, we heal psychic wounds, forge deep connections, and create meaningful wholes, for ourselves and whomever we touch with our work. Being creative is truly "soul food."

Practical Suggestions for Giving Yourself Permission

What are some specific, practical things you can do to get to a place where you feel you absolutely have the right to create and can begin to connect deeply with your own creative process and start to actively pursue your creative dreams?

  • Look deep within yourself to discover who you really are and what you really want to do. The answers to these questions are inside you. The more strongly and clearly you see yourself, the less vulnerable you will be to the opinions and attitudes of others. Meditate. Clear the chatter of your mind and get to the bedrock truth of your creative essence.
  • Be BOLD. Declare your identity to the world. Decide what your artistic ambitions and intentions are, and tell everyone you know. If you are confident and decisive, you will get much better responses than you expect. As Goethe said, "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."
  • Change your culture. Do what you can to drop from your everyday life people who seem to feel they have the right to tell you what you can and cannot do and who you can and cannot be — the people who seem threatened by your possible success and happiness. Surround yourself instead with people who give you strength through their own honesty while keeping you honest with yourself. Seek out an artist's group that supports your creative goals, or start one yourself. Few things are more invigorating than truly helping other people with their own dreams. Read biographies of your favorite artists and other successful creators.
  • Dedicate yourself to skill building in your chosen form. Take classes, on-line or in person. Dive into a skill building book like "Drawing on the Right side of the Brain," or "Writing Fiction," by the Gotham Writers' Workshop, or "The Creativity Book," by Eric Maisel. Dedicate yourself to an artistic mentor in your field who is willing to take you under her wing and pass on her own hard-won skills. This is an ancient and honorable practice, and very rewarding for both apprentice and master.
  • Learn more about the creative process. Read books on creativity, take a workshop, or hire a creativity coach. Join or start a group dedicated to exploring the creative process in your chosen form. Get together with like-minded people to make, do, create — just to see what happens. Groups can be very liberating, instructive, and a whole lot of fun.
  • Commit to your creating. When you finally get over worrying about whether you can or should do it, and manage to commit fully to your creative goals, you will really start to get into "flow." That is when your passion will kick in. That is when the magic will start to happen.

The key to successful creating is easy to state (though not always easy to achieve): Clarify your goals, commit to them fully, and start to act on them with all of your heart and mind. That is what every "genius" and otherwise satisfied creator discovers sooner or later. And there's nothing stopping you from doing the same.

Good luck and joyous creating! •

© 2005 Dave Storer. All rights reserved.

Excerpted with permission from the Inspiring Creativity anthology. Dave Storer has been writing fiction for many years and, among other credits, has published a short story in American Way, the in-flight magazine of American Airlines. More »