I’d consider myself a pretty creative person. I like to write, I like arts and crafts, I like creating theatre. I don’t know why, but the opportunity to decorate or customise anything I own fills me with joy. I am, for all intents and purposes, creative.
But are you creative if you don’t create?
The dreaded question
If you’re a self-described creative person, you can sometimes feel under pressure to always be coming up with something new. Well-intentioned people ask “So, what are you working on these days?” It’s usually out of curiosity or just to make conversation, but it can send you down a spiral of self-doubt and panic. Suddenly, a little voice in the back of your head is bombarding you with questions. Am I creating enough? Shouldn’t I be working on something right now? When was the last time I publicly produced something? Has an unacceptable amount of time gone by where I haven’t shown any new work?
If you haven’t made any work in a while, you’re creative.
If you’re not working on anything right now, you’re creative.
If you don’t want to create right now, you’re creative.
You are not defined by the work you create. You’re not a machine that mindlessly pumps out content according to a schedule. You’re a human being, who has emotional ups and downs, who has an inconsistent amount of passion, who is allowed to just live. Don’t look at creativity as a status you need to live up to; look at it as a chance to enjoy yourself.
Finding your rhythm
For a lot of creative people, the desire to create is overshadowed by the need to keep up with everyday life. We live in a society where whatever earns money comes first; and for most people, your source of income doesn’t overlap with your favourite activities. Yeah, you wanted to work on your art when you woke up this morning, but instead you had to spend ten hours doing something else. It makes sense if you don’t have that same interest by the time you return home.
Some people find that the best way for them to work on their personal projects is to plan some creative time into their day. No matter what, you spend two hours on Wednesday evenings working on your art. It doesn’t matter if you’re tired or uninspired, Sunday afternoons are your creative time and you’re going to create, goddamn it.
Abandon your plan
You don’t have to work on something just because it’s the last thing you worked on. Jump around! Do what you enjoy, not what you think you should be doing. Had a new idea that excites you? Explore it!
“But if I do that, I’ll never finish any of my projects!”
If this really bothers you, ask yourself why. Why are you creating this piece of art? Why does it have to be completed? Are you focusing entirely on the end product, and not giving yourself enough of a chance to enjoy the process? Create art because you love to create; let the end product be a happy bonus.
The creative lifestyle
Creativity is a lifestyle, not a project. Allow yourself to be creative without an end goal. Doodle in the margins; leave the headphones at home and daydream on the bus; use those in-between moments in life to embrace your creative side. It can be tempting but damaging to measure your creativity by how much content you produce. Maybe you don’t have to measure your creativity at all; maybe you just need to allow yourself to enjoy the feeling.