To get our creativity flowing uninhibitedly, we first must address out shadow selves, and embrace our creative passions and inspiration.
Creativity is play, but for shadow artists,Julia Cameron
learning to allow themselves to play is hard work.
When I witness my coaching clients get their hope back, I always cry.
In many instances, their newly-surfaced hope is inexorably tied to claiming and getting their creativity flowing— remembering their long-held dreams of creative expression, dusting them off, and finally taking action.
The Emergence of Creative Overflow
A sense of possibility fills them. A desire to voice what they see and feel and know to be true. A straightening of the shoulders, looking up.
Gone is the anchor of dread, the pinch of living small.
And in the void once only filled by duty, responsibility, and doing the “sensible” thing, a new being is born. Emerges from her or his shell, squints in the daylight and toddles toward the blank page, canvas, microphone, cooking pots, stage.
No matter how many times I witness this emerging, I am moved beyond words, consumed with emotion. I am reminded of my own memories of stepping out of the shadows and how it felt to get my own creativity flowing—out of the clutches of old art scars, fear of judgment, and untrue cultural lore.
Moving Through the “Shadow Artist” Experience
It is easy to pretend we are being creative by becoming what author Julia Cameron calls a shadow artist:
“Shadow artists are gravitating to their rightful tribe but cannot yet claim their birthright. Very often audacity, not talent, makes one person an artist and another a shadow artist—hiding in the shadows, afraid to step out and expose the dream to the light, fearful that it will disintegrate to the touch. Shadow artists often choose shadow careers—those close to the desired art, even parallel to it, but not the art itself….”
Filled with fear, we lurk off to the side. We are at the party, but in the corner, out of the conversation and removed from the joyful exchange of ideas. The warmth and joy of sharing what we see and feel.
We pretend we are being creative by witnessing or supporting the creative courage of others. But when that brief dopamine hit dissipates, we are left shaken by our hollow and unsatisfying experience.
How, then, do we step into the arena in broad daylight and get our creativity flowing?
5 Steps to Get Your Creativity Flowing
We begin with an honest appraisal of how we are spending our days.
How much time do we devote to our own creativity? Not in support of others’ creativity, but rather hours devoted to our own projects, works in progress, and dreams.
We decide to put our own creative passions first.
This may look like devoting an hour in the morning to outlining and writing the book we’ve meant to write for over a decade, carving out time on the weekends to get some sketching and painting in, or choosing to take a class to learn a new creative skill in a community of other creators.
We choose to believe that play, creativity, and living our hearts’ desires is sensible and vital to our well-being, productivity, and success.
We disbelieve the lies that have been told over and over to us that clutching onto discipline and the denial of pleasure comprise the path to achievement and accomplishment.
We remember to tend to our wells of inspiration that keep our willingness tanks full.
We put ourselves in front of Beauty, move our bodies in fresh air, gift ourselves rest and renewal, and spend time in places that connect us to our best thinking.
We start small, igniting habits of creating that fuel a larger bonfire.
We don’t try to scale Everest by Friday, but rather we stretch, gather materials and supplies, and then lace up for a gentle first foray into the wild. We return, assess our experience, and then commit to another adventure the next day. Decision by decision, day by day, we reinforce our creative habits.
Claim Your Creativity
Ask yourself right now how different your life and work would be if you were to claim your creativity. Avoid the trap of focusing on the outcome of your time spent creating and how you and the world would receive it, judge it, and decide its worth.
Instead, focus on the feelings you would experience while in the joyful throes of creating, creativity flowing without limit. How you would transmute pain to freedom and a state of stuck into forward motion. What would you see along the path? Who would you meet? What would you choose to place into the River of Consciousness that turns our heads and breaks our hearts open?
And most importantly, who would you become?
Claim your creative birthright. When you step forward, creativity flowing, you give us all inspired permission to leave our own shadows.
Are you ready to step out of the shadows and claim your creativity once and for all? If so, get the inspiration, tools, and social support you need by joining us in the next cohort of The Sketchbook Entrepreneur Masterclass! (This masterclass is not just for entrepreneurs!) It is a 6-week course, taught live over Zoom (we begin in mid-January); you will leave having established your footing as a powerful creator.
Let’s step out of the shadows.