Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Let Your Creativity Loose

by Niki Turner

Creativity. That magical, elusive quality we see in others and fail to acknowledge in ourselves. Children seem to have it to excess... losing themselves for hours in make-believe stories, creating masterpieces with finger paints, banging out the concerto of all concertos on an out-of-tune piano, or having an imaginary friend so real parents set an extra place at the dinner table for him or her.

Creativity is essential to every expression of human life, from cleaning the bathroom to writing a novel to having a good marriage. Without it, life becomes stagnant and gross things start to grow. A dash of creativity can turn a boring task into something fun, or solve a problem that has boggled wiser, better educated minds. When it comes to the arts - music, writing, art, dance, theater, etc. - creativity is more than just spice. It's the very breath of the created thing, transforming the mundane into the extraordinary.

Creativity is defined as "the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination."

We're all creative beings, because we are all created in the image and likeness of the Creator. Creativity is lodged within your divine design just as surely as it was lodged in Adam when he named all the animals God had placed in Eden. The potential to create is there inside you. The more you feed it and exercise it, the bigger and stronger it will become. Like any other part of your being, creativity requires care (attention, exercise, rest) and feeding (a supply of energy).
  • Acknowledge your creativity as a tangible part of who you are, as real as any muscle or organ.
  • What stirs your imagination? (Nature? An art museum? Music? Make time for that activity in your life.)
  • Is something draining your creative juices? (Clutter? A rigid schedule? Too much, or not enough, noise? Determine what you can change and change it.)
  • Do something routine in a different, unexpected way. (Eat spaghetti with your fingers. Brush your teeth in the kitchen.)
  • Don't stifle your creativity by stuffing it into a format of traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like. There will be time for "grooming" later. Creativity must come first.
  • Copying ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc., to meet some kind of status quo standard smothers genuine creativity under the weight of all those expectations.
Have you ever come up with a story idea, only to pick it to pieces before you ever get it on paper?
No one will like it. - But do YOU like it? Who are you writing for, anyway?
It's not publishable. - Half of what's on the shelves today isn't publishable according to market definitions, particularly the really, really popular stuff.
That's out of my genre, or it's not even a genre that exists. - Who says you have to have a particular genre? Creativity isn't limited to a genre, or even to one talent!

Someone has said we have to give ourselves permission to "write a really bad first draft." That's true. We also need to give ourselves permission to write a really CREATIVE first draft, one that isn't suffocated by our grown-up expectations and regulations and rules. You wouldn't expect the child with the finger painting set to create a replica of the Mona Lisa, or the little girl dancing around the living room with her fairy wand to execute a perfect pirouette.

Just write it. Or paint it. Or dance it. Or make it. Give yourself to that part of you God authored that is so very much like Himself... your creativity, and let it soar. The more you yield to it, the better the expression will become. But you have to start with trust that the finger painting is a legitimate, valuable expression of creativity. There will be plenty of time to work your way through the paint-by-number, the structured ballet class, and the 1001 rules for publishing the perfect novel. Just don't try to start there.


  1. To you as well, Andrea. Nice to see you here again!

  2. Great advice, Niki. I concur 100%. Now if only I could come up with a creative way to clean...I do tend to pick things up with my toes and wipe messes with my socks, yet that still fails to inspire me to cleaning greatness :)

  3. The hardest 'writing' lesson I've learned this past year is that I can take drivel and work it into shape. But it takes time. I have completed my WIP over a year ago, but the later chapters are nothing but bones waiting 'to dance'!

    When I confront each new chapter I can get overwhelmed by how ugly it is. But hour by hour it grows and the moments of inspiration and creativity that gradually tweak it into something I like has become as enjoyable as the completed chapter. (as if they are ever 'complete'!)

    Creating is such a positive, life-affirming, bigger-than-me experience. Because, like you said, Niki, it's part of who we are inside when we can shake off the yucky stuff we've pulled around us.

  4. LOL, Dina! My teenagers seem to find creative ways to clean... I can always tell, because nothing is actually clean when they're done. : )

  5. Deb, I think that's part of the reason I've fallen in love with this whole idea of upcycling and refashioning things. Taking something ugly and making it lovely always feels like such an accomplishment. Maybe more so than starting from scratch!

  6. Great post, Niki. There are several creativity drainers in my life. Clutter is a surprisingly strong one. Every time I unpack a box or clear out a corner of the room, I feel more free and can think more clearly. I guess housework has its benefits :+}

  7. Jen, I feel the same way. I'm still locating my creativity drains. There are more of them than I thought...

  8. I love this post Niki!!!
    Fear is such a drain on creativity for me...
    What if.... what if....???

  9. Oh, this is a good post, Niki.

    Yup, fear stifles creativity, no doubt about it.

    Thank you,

    Anita Mae.

  10. Cheryl, I agree, fear in all its forms is like a lead weight on creativity.

  11. Thank you Anita Mae!

    I just ran across this definition during my daily Bible reading today. Thought it was so good I'd share.

    "created: (Hebrew-bara) To form or fashion, to produce, to create. Originally carried the idea of 'carving' or 'cutting out.' ...suggests that creating is similar to sculpturing. Thus bara is a fitting word to describe both creating by bringing into existence and creating by fashioning existing matter into something new, as God did in 'creating' man out of dust from the ground. God is always the subject of the verb bara in its standard form, creating is therefore a divine capacity."

  12. I love this message! Photography isn't as demanding on creativity as, say, painting or sculpting. I'm not making something out of nothing. I'm making something inspired out of something else. But what helps my creativity is rest. And what stunts it is lack of rest. I am really that simple.

  13. Bex, since my #2 son is into photography, I would have to say photography that goes beyond cheesy posed pictures and lopsided landscapes is DEFINITELY a creative endeavor! As much as any artist, and maybe more, because you not only have to see the picture in your mind, you have to use your equipment to bring it out.
    Glad you liked the post!


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