The Practice of Creativity

Welcoming the Creative Self Instead of Withholding from It

Posted on: February 5, 2012

I asked people to note their relationship style with their creative self in the first post of this new series. I received both public and private emails from folks identifying and asking questions about the ‘withholder’ relationship style. Let’s look more closely at some characteristics of a withholding style toward creativity. This style manifests through:

–A deeply held practice of perfectionism toward creative projects (i.e. it’s never good enough).

–A deeply held practice of procrastination toward creative projects (i.e. it’s never a good time to start).

–A deeply held practice of demeaning or being suspicious about the value of a creative life (e.g. What good is pursuing x anyway? It will never amount to anything. The marketplace won’t reward me. Or, creative pursuits are for other people, not me.)

–A deeply held practice of workaholism and busyness (i.e. I don’t have 5 minutes for myself—how can I possibly take time to start or finish x?)

–Refusing to capture insights that bubble up about what you’d like to create (e.g.  This looks like a pattern of receiving creative urgings where you say to yourself ‘Yeah that’s a great idea. I’ll get to it later.’ And then you fail to record the ideas.)

–Being very uncomfortable with ambiguity in the early stages of the creative process (i.e. I have no idea where this project is going and it’s making me anxious.). To exercise our creativity often means that we don’t know what’s coming next. Many people experience anxiety during the creative process because they usually have to solve unexpected challenges that arise.

This relational style creates a context where our creative self is ignored, silenced or remains unacknowledged.

One of the first steps for developing a more loving mindset toward our creative life is to actually welcome the creative self in our imagination. Here’s one of the best and most powerful prompts for initiating a relationship with the creative self. I typically use it in my workshops on creativity. I promise that this exercise will exercise will delight and surprise you!

Adapted from Deena Metgzer’s Writing for Your Life: A Guide and Companion to the Inner Worlds:

Facing the Fear and Welcoming the Creative:

An adoptions worker is coming to your house to interview you on your capacity to adopt ‘the creative’. She will ask all the usual questions: Why do you want the creative in your house? What do you know about caring for it? How will you provide for it? How and what will you feed it? How will you deal with being awakened at 3am? How will you cope with its needs and urgencies? What will you have to relinquish to attend to it? How will you hold it? Can you sing?

Imagine the situation. Write it from the adoptions worker’s point of view or from yours, or both. Or write from the point of view of an omniscient narrator who sees and knows but does not judge. Try not to lie to the adoptions worker, either to pass the interview or to fail it!

Try  1-3 paragraphs.

I’ll post the 2nd half to this exercise later in the series.


7 Responses to "Welcoming the Creative Self Instead of Withholding from It"

I’ll be following this with interest! I have several of the pathologies -perfectionism, procrastination, and workaholism!

Hi Val,
Well, I didn’t get discussing the ‘pathologies’ as much as I wanted to in this series. I will return to them again and they are always with us in one form or another!

Michelle, I’m going to do this since I’ve always been a workaholic. I’ll share my result with you privately. On the other hand, my first reaction is “that doesn’t describe me” so perhaps my prompt denial might be telling me something!

Hey Greta,
Thanks for posting here. I also got your fantastic post privately and will respond to that, too.

This is such a fantastic blog post! I just started taking an art class online through the Friday Center to get back into the creative mindset and it has inspired me to move forward in many ways. But I am working through the perfectionism problem and not knowing when/how to start on projects. I’ve found that learning to “upcycle” things really makes me feel good though–over the weekend I made a cat bed out of an old curtain panel for the stray cat that hangs out in my apartment complex. He loved it! And I felt good for using the material and not buying something I could make from things I already had. Creativity is so important for self worth and exploration! Thank you again for this most excellent post. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by and the kind words. I used to teach at the Friday Center and glad to hear that you are taking a course there. I love the term “upcycle”, that’s really good. Keep us posted as you discover more. I find the more we create, the more there is to create and that dynamism spills over into other parts of our lives.

[…] workshop and just posted a dialogue between her and the adoptions worker. You might want to try the exercise and then read Judy’s engaging […]

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Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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