As a recovering creative person, someone in the process of accepting that my creativity is meaningful and good after all, I think it’s appropriate for me to highlight some key points that have helped me come to terms with my creativity (and overall mind) over the past few years. Lord only knows how many creatively minded people have been mentally scarred from being made to believe their talents are a waste of time. I’ve listed the individual/ private ones first because that’s where the external ones stem from, inner changes spawn outer changes (contrary to conventional thinking).
Yes, changes was deliberate. I trust you’ve already worked out why.
These are ones gleaned from personal experience, thus I expect you to translate them into a manner suitable to your experiences, and disregard what’s completely irrelevant to you.
Individual/ private tips:
- Fear is a totally useless emotion. And I mean all forms of it, from mere nervousness, anxiety & timidity/ shyness to its more intense forms of panic, phobia & terror (caution & hesitation don’t necessarily count). Try to be fearless rather than just brave, and do what you really want.
- Look after yourself physically: work out*, eat healthily, drink water (at least 1.5 to 2 litres a day), get outdoors just for the sake of it, make yourself look and smell good (I like wearing ‘atr, non-alcoholic Islamic perfumes). I don’t personally do this but if you want to, even get a massage.
* however and wherever you want. Do it in a gym, at a park, in your back garden, in your house, whatever. Preferably vigorous and fast-paced, and with the foremost focus on enjoying yourself. Physical activity maintains mental & spiritual activity.
- Be more involved and focused on dunya (Arabic for world/ this life), and just accept that the environment is replete with blessings tailor-made for you. However, they won’t do anything for you if you just stand around scratching your ass expecting to not have to work for them.
- Snap decisions, gung-ho attitude (to a degree) & imprecision work just as well as, and in many cases better than, meticulous planning & pin-point perfectionism.
- Be mercilessly honest to yourself about what kind of person you really are, noticing all the details, and what you really want. Then relish the parts you like and do something about the parts you don’t like, either changing your behaviour or perceptions or both.
- Improvement = change. Those who refuse to change are those to refuse to improve, and those who refuse to improve are f***ed. Tolerate, accept, like, even yearn for change.
Interpersonal/ public tips:
- Make some time & space in your daily life to practise & develop your creativity, and defend that time and space regardless of all other commitments. Only compromise once every 10 blue moons, if ever.
- Seek others’ help to make your stuff better. Whether it’s joining a writing club, poetry club, acting classes, singing class, doesn’t matter. Be around other people and learn from what they do.
- Have vague plans* to get your works out there in the world. I say vague to give you space to modify and expand on them as and when necessary. Be happy with your achievements so far and expect to do better & go further in the near future.
* Yes that was deliberate too.
- Be willing to take risks, for without risk change can’t happen. If you get it wrong, see exactly what you got wrong and try again.
- When trying to get your work out there in the big wide world, to get it showcased/ published/ received in some manner by others, accept that no is AN answer. However, never let it be THE FINAL answer. Keep going to different people in different places, use alternatives, adapt your style of asking, until you get a yes. And maybe is an answer, if confronted with this take it! It’s a yes until proven otherwise.
- There are people in the world who genuinely believe creativity is dangerous and will try to stop you practising it. It doesn’t matter if it’s because they were once creative and it didn’t pay off, if they just don’t like you or if they’re family and friends just looking out for you “because they care”, they are all the same. Defend yourself against their negativity, and when they attack you with it acknowledge your anger. Don’t let it die down before it’s ready, and practise something creative and enjoyable to you asap.
Inspirations for this post are Joseph McClendon III & Anthony Robbins (co-authors of Unlimited Power: A Black Choice, ISBN 9780684838724) and Julia Cameron (author of The Artist’s Way, ISBN 9781585421466 & The Vein of Gold, ISBN 9780330352857).
This list is not exhaustive, I’m sure other creatives out there, professional, amateur and beginner alike, have other good tips they want to share.