Being creative, what is that?

What is creativity?

creativity/ noun

  1. the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.

Somehow I got this idea that creativity was something elusive or external to us when in fact it is as natural as breathing. I developed the belief that it was something others had in spades and I only had sloppy seconds.

Where do these beliefs come from and become ingrained?

I remember hearing self depreciating comments from family members.

“Oh no, I can’t draw. I haven’t got a creative bone in my body!”


Witnessing her stage fright and possible fears of looking stupid, failing or being made fun of, if her stick figures were disproportionate or wonky. We pick up these messaging early in school or society and carry them around like dead weight. I internalised it and shied away from art at high school.

Do we feel vulnerable and risk being exposed by creative pursuits? This idea perpetuated that you are either creative or you aren’t.

Quite a tragic thought to imagine lots of little repressed Salvador Dali’s, cut short by intruding creative predators. It seems that we are not alone in our internal critics, it comes with the human psyche. Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, esteemed storyteller and captor of fairytales in her beautiful spoken word work, ‘The Creative Fire’ speaks of this cycle, of Hades (the abductor) who whisks Persephone (the archetypal bountifully delicious maiden) into the Underworld silencing her sensitivity, joys and creativity. The silencing can occur from outside us (culture or family system), but just as powerful it happens from within. The false coach and the undermining scout that exists within our own psyche can convince us that nothing we produce will live up to our/its unreasonable standards or be adequate or more heavily that we are inadequate.

The ‘Negative Mother’ complex is coined as the malicious doubter inside us, ‘You aren’t really going to put that out there are you? You can’t give that a go. Why don’t you just give up?’

If we give this voice power it can hold our creativity hostage. Understanding this is helpful in calling out the doubters, and getting on with getting on.

Making a creative life for ourselves.

Personally it’s felt like reclamation of lost bits, forgotten corners. Recalling joyful memories of that pottery class in primary school. My mum would make the biggest fuss over the little muddy creatures I’d gently corral home. She’s kept all the watercolours we did together when I was four, and she was going through a dark divorce. In the mountains of memorabilia collected when she recently moved house, these bright yet faded treasures stood out. They were symbols of hope and support from a parent who matters most.

Our creativity is like a small innocent playful child unsullied by the drudgery of rationality and realism. And we need to protect it like one. Keep it well fed with round bellies and sun-kissed skin from digging moats in the sand.

Too often we’re forced to grow up and lose that creative playful essence. Our heart gets ruled by our head. Quite by accident you can wake up one day and realise you’ll all grown up. The lucky ones are those that retain this connection with their playful child which is also a direct line to their creativity.

It’s never too late. I’m grabbing hold of my miss-chief and letting her lead me into delight.

Girl in board shorts circa 1983 Armidale

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