How to be creative – even if you think you’re not

Do you feel like this image – as if half of you is not there? (If you can can’t see this image it is of a man who’s face and body is partially invisible).

This is the experience of many people and they wonder why they feel uninspired, deadened and not able to enjoy their lives with an overriding sense that life is passing them by.

And it is true, life is passing them by.

Who wouldn’t feel unhappy if half of them was not there.

The Disappearing Creative Side

What has this to do with creativity? Everything.

The part of you that is invisible in the photograph is your creative side – even if you don’t believe you’re creative. And if you don’t nurture or express your creativity, like any muscle if you don’t use it – it will waste away.

Your creativity will die. And when it dies, you will feel the impact of it…and it will begin to effect your life. What used to make you feel vital and alive no longer does any more.

And as you see in the photograph above, as the creative side withers more and more of you disappears.

This is often mistaken for depression, stress, fatigue, being run down, and the feeling “I don’t know what to do with my life”. Life becomes a struggle, full of routine and boredom.

No wonder you want to hide away

The creative side that you thought was not that important, something that you’d resurrect one day when you have the time, turns out to be absolutely vital to your survival.

If you neglect your creativity, you neglect one of the the most important parts of yourself – because creativity is not limited to so called creative pursuits – such as art, music, dance or drama. It is the essence of who you are.

Even the most ruthless scientific field relies on creativity for its biggest breakthroughs. Great discoveries were made often through hunches and intuition not through rational deduction.

I’m Not Creative

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone tell me categorically that they are not creative and then by the end of the first session of one of the groups I run, I can see the seeds of creativity in them – creativity they don’t see or believe they have.

Gradually and with encouragement more of this creativity starts coming forward – and they begin to surprise even themselves – even if their rational mind believes “they’re too old, they don’t have what it takes, they’re a hopeless case”, they begin feeling vital and alive again.

Being Wrong

I love this quote by Joseph Chilton Pearce: “To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.”

The courage to make deliberate mistakes

Yes he is absolutely right. You can’t even begin to be creative if you are attached to being or “doing things right”. Even the greatest artists will tell you that. Rodin, like most sculptors, as prolific as he was, needed to constantly clear out the rubble of sculptures that he had thrown out. This rubble was a huge mound of the failed and unfinished sculptures which far exceeded his output.

Many people have the idea that they will sit down and immediately create a wonderful work, that others will admire.

I can remember doing this myself. As a result absolutely nothing creative came out of me, in spite of the fact that living in me was enormous untapped creative potential.  I soon became very discouraged and gave up any idea of being creative – and thus I became more and more miserable.

It didn’t help that my father discovered some of my creative efforts and then mocked me mercilessly for them. No wonder I felt crushed and afraid of being creative.

This would have persisted, but as luck would have it, I found another way….

You Were Trained to be Uncreative

If you have done the very same thing as I did, please don’t beat yourself about this. The fact is that you have been trained from a very young age to believe this is what creativity is – and to be critical and judgmental of your abilities. So its hardly surprising that  you have these beliefs. The adults around you, who were motivated by their own fears and disappointments, may have told you “You’re not creative. Stick at what you’re good at.” They wanted to protect you.

This is because in our world the rational mind is worshiped as the only way, and the intuitive/creative mind is regarded with suspicion. It is even rather feared.

Creative Self Indulgence

Unless you grew up during a time when creativity was actively encouraged – when everything you did was creative – even quite objectionable behaviour.


And then you woke up with a jolt that your so called creativity was complete self-indulgence. This was creativity without boundaries, without any form – creativity that was a complete mess.

No wonder we’re so confused about what creativity is.

It is no wonder we fear our creative side – because it can make us look completely ridiculous.

It’s a horrid fact that the more you fear looking ridiculous, the more you will look ridiculous.

How to be Creative Even if You Think You’re Not

So if your reading this and you feel the urge to be creative but don’t know quite how to start exercising that muscle (because any muscle that hasn’t been used, is going to be flabby) then start with this.

  • Start facing your fear of being wrong. Or to put it another way let go your the need to “do it right”.
  • Be prepared to make mistakes.

If you want to take this a step further – make a deliberate mistake. Try to do something wrong and see just how hard it is. See what happens when you attempt to make a deliberate mistake.

Practice with simple things – like wearing odd socks, or an article of clothing inside out. This too is how fashion evolves. At one time who would have believed that inside-out clothes would be fashionable or torn jeans.

It is so strong in us to “do it right”. It is so insidious – but when you truly subvert this, then your true creativity has a chance to emerge.

Walking Dog
Is this the new rage for dogs or a terrible mistake?

Exercising Your Creative Muscle

The people in my I Don’t Know What to Say improvisation course are learning this. They are experiencing moments when their rational mind is driving them and they know when they do this – they feel self-conscious, awkward and are “not doing very well”. Thus the rational mind goes into overdrive, as adrenaline is pumping through their veins, trying to work out what to do.

And then they remember to move into their other brain – the right brain, the creative brain – instead of focusing on themselves and “how badly they’re doing it”, they are focusing on their partner and suddenly something surprising starts to come out of them.

It registers in them immediately as pleasure, of feeling as if they’re riding a wave – and they don’t know how long they’re going to be on that wave, but the more they relax into it, the longer they can stay on the wave and more in tune they feel with their partner and with the creative spirit within them.

Riding the Wave to Freedom

It doesn’t matter in the least that this MAY be only a fleeting experience – and that it will come and go – but as they practice this muscle, it will get stronger and gradually it will become as effortless to “ride the wave” as it is to think rationally.

True Creativity

True creativity is a partnership between the creative and rational brain. You are never going to get rid of your rational mind and you shouldn’t – but you don’t want it to rule the show.

But for most people, the creative brain has been so suppressed that it barely exists. It has been ridiculed, shamed and beaten out of existence.

It is like a very tender seedling. If people keep trampling on the seedling, it is never going to grow into a strong and healthy plant. It is going to die.

The reason why most people believe they’re not creative is because  they have not developed the skill out of which their creativity can develop and grow. This is the same as the gardener tending his/her young seedlings and making sure they have the best possible chances of survival.

Tend your creative spirit and it and you will grow.

plant-personal growth
Tend your creative spirit and it will grow

Creative Jealousy

It is a well know fact that people who are actively expressing their creativity are happier and feel more fulfilled – and it doesn’t matter what area of life you express your creativity.

If you feel a pang of jealousy that someone else is living their life in a more creative way, this is a sure sign that you’re not living your creative potential. I used to be jealous of other people who were making a success out of being creative and now some people are jealous of me.

I know that when I get jealous of other people – it means that there’s an area where I’m not expressing my creativity.

From this perspective jealousy is not bad, it is actually an opportunity for growth.

Nurturing Your Creative Spirit

How can you nurture the creative spirit that lives in you today? Take one small action. The take another one tomorrow. Keep taking those actions and before long your creative spirit will be fully alive in you.

If this article has spoken to you, or if you have any questions, or there’s something you’d like to share please do leave a comment. I love to hear from you. If you subscribe to comments you will also be able to participate in the conversation that may ensue.

If you would like to connect with the creative spirit I describe in this article then I suggest you check out my upcoming events. or make contact with me and I’ll suggest how you can get started.

© Claire Schrader 2012

Want to connect with the creative spirit I describe in this article? Check out my upcoming courses and events and see what calls to you? If this article has intrigued you, inspired you or if you have any questions, or there’s something you’d like to share please do leave a comment. Your comments may inspire others.

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5 thoughts on “How to be creative – even if you think you’re not

  • 18th May 2012 at 8:38 am

    Thanks for the wonderful Article Claire Schrader .This is such a great post to read. Stimulating me to read much more of your posts. Keep up the good work. Hoping to see a lot more excellent posts from you shortly.

    • 18th May 2012 at 9:41 am

      Thanks so much. I’m glad the article spoke to you. Found all sorts of errors in the article – so I practice what I preach!!!

  • 15th September 2012 at 7:33 am

    A very good points you have mentioned here. You helped me a lot indeed and reading this your article I have found many new and useful information about this subject.

  • 20th November 2012 at 12:27 pm

    As you are right that one should not neglect their creativity, as it leads to the loose the enjoyable part of their life. And i have experience this personally so i can understand the importance of being creative in the life as it helps to enter in a new world with lots of fun,enjoyment,and certain degree of satisfaction that whatever we are doing we are doing right.
    Jimmi Dexter

    • 20th November 2012 at 12:39 pm

      Thanks Jimmi – I hope you are now finding those creative outlets for play, fun and self expression. I can’t remember the last time I woke up with that feeling – oh no I’ve got to go to work!

      Best wishes Claire


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