The Creative Curse

I’m a highly creative person, and I am here to tell you that it always feels amazing like you’re going to explode with frustration.

Creative people are either totally on fire with fresh ideas and innovative ways to communicate or they have the brain mass of a slug. You can feel like the most brilliant mind of your time in one minute and like you have nothing of substance to add in the next.

For me in particular, my creativity comes in spurts. Sometimes, writing 2 blogs a week feels like the most demanding task imaginable because I literally can’t think of things to say. Other times, I could sit with my laptop and write for hours and hours and hours about hundreds of different topics because I am the epitome of communication, watch me go.

Today, I’m the not-creative version of myself. I’m currently sitting at the auto shop getting my car window fixed in the most non-creative space I can possibly imagine, and Rachael Ray is on the TV teaching us how to fry cauliflower, which sounds delicious but sort of seems like it would defeat the purpose of actually eating cauliflower in the first place. Like I want something that’s already bad for me fried, not something that’s good for me.

I just got two cavities filled (from all the bad for me fried stuff), and have just had two in-depth conversations about both my HSA and my wisdom teeth. When I get home, I am going to organize my greeting card drawer (it’s a thing) and attempt to match some socks, my least favorite thing to do.

Yeah, it’s not my most creative day.

How can I be so creative but not create on demand? Why is it so hard for me to get into a place where I can write exactly what I am wanting to convey? Why does it take me hours to pump out a paragraph?

Sometimes, being creative feels like a curse, because when I’m not in the mood to create, I feel like I’m altogether a huge failure. 

There has to be some creative people, like me, out there wondering why they can’t get their act together and just CREATE. Well, my right-brained friends, you’re not alone. This one is for you.

Creativity is scary.

I have thick skin, and I’m not afraid of feedback. But man oh man, I will never forget when I wrote a blog and had it torn apart by a total stranger. To paraphrase, she said that my content was “ok” but my ending lacked any sort of depth, my writing was sloppy, and I basically didn’t know what I was talking about.

This woman wasn’t a writer. She wasn’t a creator. She wasn’t anyone who should have offered me input in any way, shape, or form. She was just an observer who didn’t like what I said and she went waaaaay out of her way to let me know.

When you create something with your entire heart and soul and then put it into the hands of people who don’t share the same conviction that you do, it can be terrifying. Any feedback feels personal. Even the smallest suggested change feels like you’re being asked to change your child or something. Why?

Because it’s an extension of you. 

How do I fight against this? I just expect pain. And that’s not me being negative or having a bad outlook, it’s just me saying, This is a piece of me, and I’m giving it away to people who don’t know me. 

Give yourself permission to grieve a little bit. And then take that grief, and create something new.

Creativity takes freaking forever.

My last blog had 52 revisions. Fifty. Two. And it wasn’t even an in-depth, let’s talk about serious life things sort of blog. It was just a blog that I wrote on a Thursday.

People have said that I’m an amazing writer, or that I have the ability to capture thoughts in a captivating way. I am so appreciative of those words. They are fuel for my soul. But here’s the real deal- I’ve never just popped out a blog and thought, “This is good.” I spend dozens of hours, sometimes days, on one single blog. I have 17 unfinished blogs sitting in my website dash right now.

Don’t be discouraged by the amount of time it takes you to spit out quality work. Creativity- true creativity- will take some time. It’s a process, and if you allow yourself to enjoy and endure the process, you’ll be left with something that you’re proud of.

In the same way, every creative person will look back on an old piece of their artwork and think, “What a piece of actual trash.” Don’t forget- your early pieces- the ones that make you cringe now because of your horrendous font choice- are the things that shaped you and made you better.

Let the process take the time that it needs to go from process to product.

Creativity comes from dark places.

Write hard and clear about what hurts.

-Ernest Hemingway

I first encountered this in college when we were asked to write about the typical Christian home. My professor asked us to write about something that scares us. I wrote about a situation where a member of my family tried to commit suicide, and how it changed my view of Christianity. My paper received high praise and was asked to be read at a conference, not because the story was captivating, but because it was real.

Some of the most fascinating and challenging art in the world has come from the artists’ expression of personal despair. There are so many people in the world who can’t express themselves, and as a creative collective, we have to be courageous enough to work through our pain and let it live in our art.

It can be scary to be vulnerable. But your vulnerability can heal not only your wounds but the wounds of others who don’t know how to talk about it.

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Before I leave you to ponder all of my vast wisdom, I want to point something out. All of these points that I’ve made about creativity are about just that- creativity. They are not about you, as a human being.

You are not inconsistent. You are not scary. You are not from a dark place. 

So often as artists, we blur the line between us and our work. So as you move forward today, just remember that. Your work is a reflection of you, your mind, your opinion, your love. But the way you got there is not.

Creatives, as you are patient with your art, be patient with yourself. Love and nurture yourself just as much. Take yourself just as seriously.  Be honest about your journey, but don’t let the slowness or rockiness of your journey deter you from taking another.

And when you don’t feel like creating, channel that. This entire blog today came from a place of me saying, “I have nothing to say.”

You always have a voice, and your voice is important.

Hi! I'm Leah. I love writing. Honest, awkward, vulnerable writing. I want to connect with you, so I hope that my writing does just that. Reminder: You are enough. As is.

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