How to Find Your Creativity (Again)

Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: Jorinde Berben

Today’s post will be a short musing since I have some creative juices flowing and want to send them in a few directions. But I do want to share with you what I’ve learned about the comings and goings of creativity throughout the past days, months, and years.

First, let me talk a little bit about what ‘creativity‘ looks like. For me, it’s a state in which ideas come easily. I’ll hear lines of poems pop up in my head, hear new melodies, get ideas for blog posts or books, think of new places to see or paintings to paint. When my creativity is high, it is easy to find solutions to problems or to think of fun things to try. Life just seems to flow more naturally, I have more energy and I’m more relaxed.

Now, unfortunately, this state is quite rare in my day-to-day life. Yesterday I was lucky as it briefly popped up again while I was biking through the forest, wind in my hair, sun-dappled leaves on the trees… and I noticed it had been gone for quite some time. I also realised where it had been, or rather, where I had been.

See, I think that’s how it really works: our creativity doesn’t leave us, it is we who leave our creative states, for any multitude of reasons. We could be taking care of kids, going to work, attending social events or watching In Treatment on HBO (my new show to binge while organising the house). We go to places where we feel we are needed, or where we think we want to be, and we leave our natural state of creativity, of being just, you know, ourselves.

We can be forgiven for all these things. They have a purpose. Work needs to be done, children need to be fed (or so I’ve heard), and we need to have fun (yes, this is a valid need). However, there is also a time in which we do all of the above not because we need to, but rather because we are running away from what we think we would find if we stopped for a moment and created some space to just be: old pain, anxiety, resentment…).

Creativity is like water, it flows where there is space. Yet, often in our lives, there is very little room left for it to flow. A mind filled up with obligations, worry or schedules gets really loud. There is just no room left for anything new.

But there is good news. We can practice clearing our minds and make it easier for the creative muses to find us again. Through meditative practice, walks in nature, staring out of the window… we can learn to let our minds wander away from our daily tasks and worries. We can find that special state in which we are both entirely with ourselves and completely in the world around us, at the exact same time. In those moments, we open the door to ourselves. And that can be scary when you don’t know what you’ll find. But it can also be incredibly rewarding.

Not creating space for our creativity will not kill us. It won’t make us sick (immediately) or make us bad people. It might even feel good and earn us the approval of others when we put all our time and effort into taking care of them. Yet, in the long run, I have learned that it takes its toll. In my case (as in many others), it leads to depression, to feeling like I’m being lived.

It may seem strange to say, but sometimes it is through my depression (which still flares up occasionally) that I’m forced to create space in my mind. Mainly because it won’t allow for anything ‘ordinary’ to carry any meaning. It demands that I focus on my mind. For being the complete void it is, it can be very pervasive in that way. In allowing my depression, in opening the door, I found a lot of pain, grief and rage, but I also reacquainted myself with my creativity: I took up photography and painting, I wrote and I looked at my life with new eyes. I made different choices. I started to recreate my reality.

‘We can’t all be artists’ may be true in the strict sense, but if you open up the concept of an ‘artist’ as someone who creates, then we, humans, can’t be anything but artists. We are constantly in the process of creating our own lives. How much of that is deliberate is partly up to us, to how much room we free up for creation.

Now doesn’t that sound wonderful!?

2 thoughts on “How to Find Your Creativity (Again)

  1. Well said! I’ve been worried about work obligations, so when I’ve sat and tried to write for myself, my creativity has been slow coming. I think you’re spot on when you say “Creativity is like water, it flows where there is space. Yet, often in our lives, there is very little room left for it to flow.” I’m sure it will come back, I just need to make space for it. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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