Creativity takes Courage
This past Friday I went to a paint night fundraiser. Have you ever been to a paint night? It’s quite an experience! First, each person is given a canvas and some paint brushes, a cup of water and several dollops of paint. Second, the artist guides you step-by-step through a painting. But before you pick up your paintbrush, the artist in charge asks you to lay a hand on your canvas and swear an oath. It goes something like this: “I promise to relax and have fun. Not to judge my painting or the painting of others. I’m here to play and try something new. If I make a mistake, no big deal, whoop-dee-do! I will trust in the process and breathe and smile.” As funny as this is, it’s no joke. Creativity takes courage!
The Big Blank Canvas
I have a confession to make: I love to paint but I’m afraid of a blank canvas.😳 Where do I start? What if I fail? What if I express what’s inside of me and I find out it’s worthless or stupid? Creating challenges me on so many levels. It makes me face myself. It feels a bit like sitting alone in silence and writing in a journal. Sometimes I don’t know what I feel and I’m afraid to give my feelings a voice. The truth is, I spend a lot more energy and time avoiding creativity than facing my fear. And the longer I avoid the empty page or the blank canvas, the more courage it takes to start. I have to talk myself into it, even if it means making a mess, or writing gibberish. So thank goodness for paint night fundraisers!
There Are No Mistakes
Jazz musician Miles Davis said, “Don’t fear mistakes – there are none.” As a recovering perfectionist, the fear of failure is always lurking in my thoughts. But to be creative you have to be free to play and experiment without fear of making a mistake.You have to normalize mistakes and see them as part of the process. You have to surrender self-judgment and silence your inner critic. So it takes a little courage every time I create. Similarly, as a piano teacher I find my adult students are the hardest on themselves. They are less patient with the process than young children. As adults we tend to focus so much on the end goal that we don’t appreciate how much we’ve learned and accomplished along the way. Instead, what if we celebrated the process over productivity?
Beyond Bungee Jumping
We often think of bravery in terms of big things like bungee-jumping or mountain climbing. But we overlook the courage found in ordinary choices. And there’s something particularly courageous about creating. It requires vulnerability, and the willingness to not only face ourselves, but bring what’s inside of us out into something visible. There’s no hiding when we are creative. It takes courage to risk to be seen and to be known. And creativity always pushes the envelope, taking us where we haven’t been before.
I Dare You
Creativity takes courage, but you are braver than you think. Courage is made up of many small steps. So I dare you to pick up that paintbrush. Sign up for that class. Try that new recipe. And repeat after me: “I am creative. And I am brave. I promise to relax and have fun. Not to judge my creativity or the creativity of others. I’m here to play and try something new. If I make a mistake, no big deal, whoop-dee-do! I will trust in the process and breathe and smile.”