March 10th 2017Creativity and I have always had a rather complicated relationship in the sense that I loved it and have spent quite a large portion of my life wondering if it loves me in return.
I pride myself on my creative endeavors and choose to live through them as a means of viewing the world from a perspective that is a bit more abstract than I would if I were simply viewing the world as a passive, logical observer. Not to say that being logical is bad or that you don’t appreciate the world if you view it with logic, I’m actually a very logical person! What I am trying to say is that without creativity, I feel like the world and life wouldn’t be nearly as exciting or limitless to me.
An American Philosopher by the name of Wayne Dyer once said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” I personally find that to be a simple yet beautifully profound statement that really ties itself back nicely to the book “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Since February is my birth month, I decided that throughout February I would take the time to read something to bring me back to my roots. As I scanned the shelves of the “Personal Growth” section at the book store, Gilbert’s work really caught my eye. I read the first few pages and was absolutely hooked by her writing style and her informal tone that makes you feel that you’re sitting in a coffee shop with her just picking her brain about the true meaning of creative thinking.
I can honestly say that I got a lot out of this book, but the most notable thing that I took away from my experience reading it was actually what you are reading right now, my blog. I have been blogging since around my birthday last year but had always been afraid of people finding my work and ridiculing me for desire to pursue writing on a more public platform than just hidden in notebooks and word documents. It was when I read Gilbert’s section on how no one cares and it is better to show the world something imperfect than to show it nothing at all that I realized that it was silly of me to hide my work in some dark corner as if I was embarrassed of it. I love writing! I always have! I have notebooks and diaries dating back to elementary school that have pages filled to the brim with scattered thoughts and stories and hopes and dreams. Why was I so afraid of what people would see in my writing? Was I afraid they would like me less? Why did I care? The people who care about me have been nothing but supportive of every bit of writing I’ve ever done so why did I care about the opinions of strangers?
And the bigger question that Gilbert helped me answer, “did strangers even care?!” Not to sound morbid, but no, most people don’t give even half a shit about you or what you do. If you love to sing and you post covers on the internet, the people who hate them will click off and stop watching and the ones who enjoy what you do will continue watching contently, proud of you and your efforts. There will always be a fair share of critics, but if you do things because you genuinely enjoy them and not because you view them as some sacred-holy-more-important-than-breathing practice then criticism doesn’t matter because you’re doing what you enjoy.
I don’t believe in making myself suffer for my art. I don’t believe in deadlines. I work when I am inspired and step away from the keyboard when I am not. I have moments where I tell myself that I want a specific day a week to post on my blog and for a while I committed to Saturdays, but I soon realized that my creativity didn’t work on a clock and that an idea wouldn’t just walk over to me like “Hey! Heard you have a deadline and I’m here to help!” Creativity doesn’t work like that. Gilbert spent a lot of time driving that point home. She treated creativity to be a sentient thing and stated that creativity chooses you when it sees you are ready for what it has to offer. Thus, I learned to stop pressuring myself into making art for the sake of it existing and instead told myself that the right ideas will choose me and those will be my favorite works to write.
So thank you Elizabeth Gilbert for giving me the tools I need to live creatively. And thank you Big Magic, for being patient with me.