Courage & Creativity

Something that I’ve only heard a few times recently and have only fully realized and appreciated today is this:

You can’t be creative without being courageous.

Whether it’s sharing a new idea, or starting a painting, or continuing that short story you had left years ago – it takes a certain kind of courage to let your creativity flow. And creativity does flow. But it also comes in crashing waves, then disappears into nothingness. It can be frustrating, but that’s what happens when we don’t let it simply flow. Creativity is like a muscle that you need to exercise regularly, otherwise it won’t work for you.

(Or do you work for creativity? Elizabeth Gilbert seems to think so. But that’s a question to be addressed at another time.)

I honestly think that everybody needs to exercise their creativity on the regular. Whether it’s through music, visual art, writing, storytelling, dance, strategic planning, teaching… anything can be done creatively. Because we were meant to create, to deconstruct, to recreate, to envision, to see the world and ourselves with different and multiple lenses. And I think that’s beautiful… And scary. Being creative is so damn scary, because it’s so damn vulnerable. You’re allowing others to see a side of you that society doesn’t necessarily like or pay attention to. You’re bleeding on a page, canvas, screen, whatever, and allowing others to see and feel it. You don’t know how they’ll react. You have specific expectations of this piece, and whether you find it garbage or consider it to be your baby, you have to deal with whatever is staring back at you.

Not all art is good art. There is bad art. But we have to remember that it is all art. And that’s a brave and beautiful thing.

Still afraid of what will happen if you express yourself and create? Here’s one of the most powerful passages from The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, a book I urge anybody to pick up. It deals with courage by looking at Resistance and what we need to do in order to look past it and make art. I say “look past” instead of “overcome,” simply because Resistance will always be there. And that’s okay. We just need to be able to be vulnerable with Resistance and do what we were meant to do.

I know it’s difficult, but there are so many wonderful possibilities on the other side of fear.

 

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