Encourage Your Creativity to Grow
“The thing about creativity is – people are going to laugh at it. Get over it.” Twyla Tharp
People create because they need to. They need to write. They need to paint. They need to compose. Creativity simply cannot be bottled up inside. However, if we approach our creativity in the wrong way, it will easily be stifled, even harmed.
I learned this lesson the hard way recently. I took an art class run by the city. I’ve never felt like I could draw or paint, but I decided to take the risk and give it a try. I immersed myself in the process. I learn best by reading and then applying. So, prior to the start of class, I started reading and practicing. Now, I’ll never be a famous artist, but I learned I could draw recognizable objects. What a wonderful surprise!
When I began the class, I had enough confidence to draw in front of people. This was a massive step outside my comfort zone, but I had already decided it was time to stop playing it safe. So, deep breaths . . . and I took the plunge.
After the first class, I continued to work long hours at home so I could get better. It did.’t take long, however, before I began to clash with the instructor. I think it was when I returned an early homework assignment. We all put our work on the table so we could learn from each other. I will never forget the instructor’s first word when she looked at my project: “Horrible.” I brushed it off, but inside I was angry, hurt and embarrassed. She didn’t dislike the whole project, just one part of it. But all I could hear was that one cruel word.
The instructor’s harshness continued towards the class for the duration of the course. Finally, on the last day, I had to walk out. I simply did not have the energy or the will to hear any more non-constructive criticism. I haven’t picked up a drawing pencil or watercolor since.
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Suess
I Lost Sight of Who I Create For
I forgot the most important thing about being creative: you must do it for yourself first. If you are only in this for others, you will never truly tap into your creativity. You’ll be so focused on gaining the approval of everybody but yourself that you’ll only skim the surface of your potential. It’s not until you learn to create for yourself above all others that you fully understand what you are capable of.
More importantly, creativity at this deeper level will withstand the criticism and laughter of others. When you stop allowing others to dictate what is right and wrong about your art, you free yourself to become a better and happier artist. You free yourself to create works that truly resound with people. You free yourself to connect with your audience.
When you write, draw, paint or compose, never do so for the approval of those who may never give it. Do so because a part of you will wither if you don’t. Stop looking for approval from outside sources. It may never come. Or, it may come in a way you weren’t expecting. The only approval you need is your own. So, give yourself permission to create and learn and grow in whatever way you see fit. The reward? You’ll learn to take pleasure in your art, and your audience will appreciate your honesty.