By Samantha Papesch
“If I waited for perfection I would never write a word” ~ Margaret Atwood
When I was a teenager, I unwittingly equated ‘being creative’ with ‘being an artist’. In my high-school classes there were kids so talented I felt like an imposter. I loved everything to do with art, but sadly, I felt I had no business being amongst such sublimely gifted individuals.
My older cousin was also an amazing artist, and I was hugely envious. She could sketch her subject to perfection within minutes while I struggled for hours with ‘facial proportions’, trying to emulate her ability and convince myself that I was just as good.
Then there was English.
As much as I enjoyed it, it never occurred to me that my favourite subject had anything to do with being creative. But at the same time, I regularly scribed poems into notebooks as a way to make sense of my world. I didn’t question if my writing measured up. It didn’t matter, I just loved doing it.
I rediscovered these old notebooks not so long ago when my parents moved house. It was a great reminder of the joy writing gave me, and also the inspiration I needed to pick it up again.
My children also remind me of this joy. Whether they’ve finished a Lego masterpiece, built a cubby, or concocted their latest potion, they rush to me in pure excitement, proud of what they’ve accomplished. Sure, they ask for my opinion, but they never ask me if their creation is ‘right’.
What I understand now, is that being creative isn’t about validation or being good enough, it’s about the process. It’s about the enjoyment, the release, the challenge; imagination, satisfaction and freedom – to name a few.
But how do we ignite that creativity when the fear of perfection is holding us back?
Here are some simple steps to begin
Recognise your passions: Which activities fulfil your creative happiness? Drawing, painting, photography, cooking, writing, poetry, building, gardening, knitting, quilting, sewing, singing, dancing, playing an instrument? Make a list of anything that brings you that sweet satisfaction.
Forget about achieving perfection: Creativity by its very definition is ‘the use of your imagination and original ideas to create something’. Negatively judging your outcomes, especially against others’, is counter-intuitive to this concept. It only ends up blocking your flow of energy.
Find inspiration and just start: As the Chinese proverb goes “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” . You don’t have to conquer Everest the first day (or even the first month). Look for the inspiration that drives your creativity and take that first step.
Take breaks often: Creativity can be a labour of love. Remember to factor breaks into your process. You’ll come back refreshed, and often with a new idea or perspective.
Reflect: How do you feel? Did you find yourself deeply immersed in what you were doing, or even lose track of time? Maybe you experienced a rush of exhilaration, excitement or delight. If so, then you’re on the right track to finding your creativity.