Let your creativity flow

I’d always wanted to write. 

As a child, I always had a pen in one hand and a notebook in the other. I was always scribbling down poems, chapters of books, lyrics for songs. My head was full of words that I loved putting down on paper.

However, the way of life is we get busy and some of the passions we had as children fade into obscurity as adult life comes into view. How many times have you said or heard someone else say: ‘I used to love…….when I was a kid but….’ I’m sure you can fill in the gaps with your own past passions and the reasons you stopped pursuing them.

In my twenties, I was offered the opportunity to write a few articles of an academic nature, and a couple of cook books. It was fun, but hard work. I loved it.

Once my son was born I no longer had the time to be creative for my own pleasure, so my dream of writing the great novel gradually faded, then disappeared. 

After years of not writing, a friend introduced me to NanoWriMo – write a novel in a month. I liked the idea, but doubted that I would have the time or the capacity to do it.

My supervisor, in a fit of what was probably exasperation, challenged me  by saying: ‘you could try to write 1000 words a day’. Not wanting to disappoint her, when I got home, I sat down to write my first 1000 words. 

Time flew. When I left my desk several hours later, I’d written 5000 words.

19 days later, I’d completed my first ever 50,000 word novel.

It is a piece of pure misery, and is hidden away in box up in the attic, hopefully never to see the light of day again. 

But those feverish 19 days gave me my writing mojo back.

The lesson I learnt from my 19 days was:

It doesn’t matter what you write, draw, paint, play or how well you do it as long as you enjoy doing and it fills you with joy.

So many people I meet want to do something they consider to be truly creative, but rarely do because they set their measure of what creativity is so high that it is unattainable. Or they decide that they are too old to start, or they figure that they’ll do it when they retire.

I played the piano as a child but stopped when life took over ( I’m guessing that you’re beginning to notice a pattern) I’d always wanted to play again, but I figured that (see the excuses above). 

About 8 years ago, I decided to start taking lessons. I ran the idea past a friend of mine who plays the piano for a living. This is what he said:

‘Let’s face it, you’re never going to be a concert pianist, but you can learn how to play well enough to for your own enjoyment and to have fun with your friends’.

He was, of course, right. I found a piano teacher, a glamorous 82 year old lady who is a very fine concert pianist and off I went. I’m not very good, which I’m sure frustrates her, but she uses all her knowledge, skill and expertise to make my weekly hour with her fun and challenging. She, like any good teacher praises the good and gently corrects the not so good. She fills me with confidence, she inspires me. She has made playing the piano my happy place.

I see being creative as doing something I love so much that I get carried away that I enter a state of flow. The secret is that I’m doing it for me and I don’t give a rats arse about what anyone else thinks about my creative endeavours because it’s my creative space and I can do what I like with it.

One of the brilliant things about being a therapist is having materials in the room that people can use to play with: paper, pencil, pens, paint, playdough, stones, boxes of sand. It thrills me to watch the playful childlike part of their personalities break through, allowing them to lower their barriers enough to start the gentle exploration of their emotional world.

As an adult, it is easy to forget the power of learning through play. Play is a essential part of life which allows us to connect with others and ourselves. Have you ever thought how you could change the quality of an evening with your partner by simply putting away your phones (and other devices), turning off the TV and playing a game together or putting on some music and having a dance or dusting off your guitar that has sat unloved in a corner forever, to make music? Being silly, having fun, sparks joy.

And so onto journaling, remembering that the principles that I outline here can be applied to any medium.

In her book ‘The Artists Way’, Julia Cameron encourages her readers to journal first thing every morning while the subconscious is not cluttered by the daily grind. She encourages us to write four full pages every day, in a sort of mind dump. 

Friends and clients who have followed this practice have found it relaxing and freeing. I see the value of this exercise as setting up a habit of writing daily. The more you write, the less you worry about the quality of the words, which allows you to enjoy the act of allowing your creativity to flow.

Other people find using a bullet journal a very creative exercise. I once met a lady on a train. We got chatting about journalling. Turns out that she used her bullet journal for planning her day, writing her shopping list, organising her exercise routine and writing a safety plan for when she was so down that she could not find her way out of ‘the long dark tunnel’. She showed it to me. It was beautifully decorated with the most intricate, delicate drawings of plants and flowers. She had added beauty to the routines that were the foundation of her life.

I have also met people recovering from alcohol addiction who journal or blog daily to help them through the challenging early months of sobriety.

Writing works as does drawing, painting, knitting, pottery taking photographs, playing music…and the list goes on.

Making space to do something we love is a great way to self-care. For a few minutes a day, focus on yourself, your thoughts and feelings. If we allow ourselves to go into that space, we will grow and heal. Allow the thoughts to flow into your creative work instead of letting them run riot around you head, like a not so merry merry-go-round that you can’t get off.  Unburden yourself, spark the joy and let it flow.

Whenever you are stuck searching for the optimal plan, remember: Getting started changes everything.” James Clear

Below is a great article by Laura Speers who explains the morning pages in a bit more depth: https://lauraspeers.org/2016/05/06/why-you-should-write-morning-pages/

WARNING

Only journal if it is safe to do so. By this I mean that you must keep your journal in a safe place where nobody can find it or read it. This is especially true is you are being abused by a person that you are living with.

If you want support to help you spark your creativity, please contact me via the contact page.


By ericapcounselling

Systemic and integrative counsellor/therapist Specialisms: Couples counselling, relationship counselling, addiction, bereavement and loss, mental health, stress management and self-care. Counsellor by day, singer by night!

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