March 11, 2012

Let's Discuss: Creativity




There are so many lessons I've learned since I first started blogging in 2010. One of the biggest lessons for me though has been making peace with creativity. If you are a left-brain person like me, creativity may scare you death. And even if you are more right-brain, the pressure of a creative job or even a creative blog can be crushing. Thankfully, early in my blogging journey I found this 20-minute TED Talks video by Elizabeth Gilbert, and it literally changed my life. She talks about visualizing creativity as not something that comes from within, but something that is given to you. (Gilbert has many names for the source of someone's "genius," but I personally believe mine comes from God.) I've always been familiar with the idea of "giving God the glory" for your work, but this video says that it's not even your work to begin with. So how did this change things for me?

Well, for starters, I've always been afraid to pursue a creative career. I'm much more comfortable with math equations that have definite answers, than open-ended questions with infinite possibilities. But what I discovered by starting my blog is that I don't even like math equations that much, and further so, it's not what I'm necessarily good at. I excel at creative tasks, but my level of discomfort for them has been keeping me from pursuing a creative life for years. No longer. Here's why:

Image from Squidoo
1. I'm no longer fearful that the ideas will just stop coming. My ideas don't come from within – they are given to me by the Creator of the universe, and I'm pretty sure His ideas won't be drying up anytime soon. I can confidently say almost two years later that there is never a shortage of ideas, just a challenge of picking which ones I have time to develop!

2. My perfectionism no longer impedes my creativity. I thought creativity depended on my own thoughts and ideas, which was way too much pressure for a perfectionist like me, and so I often wouldn't try. Now I know all I need to do, as Gilbert says, is "show up." Do my part and show up and the rest will be given to me. Massive weight on shoulders = now lifted. (Along the same lines, I've come to learn that "fashion mistakes are half the fun." See that previous post here.)

3. I feel the freedom to like my own work. I'm often surprised at the things I come up with, but at the same time felt a level of discomfort for liking it (isn't that, like, the essence of vanity?) or accepting compliments. Now I know that I'm admiring an idea that was given to me, and at the experience of being given this idea, not at my own abilities. Permission to admire, granted.

4. My work is not self-centric. If I hear day after day how great my work is (such as positive comments I receive on my blog), the whole thing becomes about me. If I have a long successful career and people are always telling me how great my work is, and I internalize that, just imagine what kind of person I could possibly become. But I constantly remind myself not take the praise as a personal compliment, but instead as praise to source of the creativity and the process itself. Yes, I absolutely played a part in the process. And maybe I deserve some credit for showing up (see #2). But I'm not the creative source after all, I'm just the conduit.

What are your thoughts on creativity? Do you struggle with being creative or excel at it? What lessons about creativity have you learned throughout the years?

38 comments:

  1. I think you are speaking directly to me:)
    For years I have been told that I'm creative and that I have an eye for fashion... I would take in the compliments and it never dawned on me to pursue my passion. Until this year....blogging has open up my creative juices. I sleep alot less but my passion for fashion surpass my need to sleep! I say gollie your dream, what you are passionate about!

    Thank J for posting this....it's is inspiring me to go all the way. The perfectionist in me was holding me back. Today I will change the way I approach the pursuit to my dream.....fashion.

    May God be with all of us in our Xoxo
    Betty

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  2. Great post, and I love the part about God being the source of your ideas!  And I am just like you, very left brain-centered (creativity scares the heck out of me).

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  3. Glad to know someone else in the blogosphere watches Ted TV. Great post.

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  4. J this is why I like your blog so much! One day I was looking at older posts and found your faith is in God. I knew there was something "different" about you (you just get that feeling! Have you had that?!). I love how you are so authentic and humble. God gave you wonderful creative skills! Thanks so much for sharing them with us each day. I pray He will bless you in many many ways!

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    1. Well stated! I feel the same way!

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  5. I relate to so much of what you said here - being a perfectionist too, that is probably where my biggest struggle lies.  And while I am proud of the content I produce (and everyone should be!), I feel the greatest joy when I am able to connect with/help others because of my blog. :)

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  6. Love this! I have been lucky enough to be blessed with a little bit of both the analytical and creative skills (hence my job as a city planner) but I do find that sometimes the ideas flow and sometimes they just don't. That's the thing about creativity, it isn't as faithful as logic and analytics. I also love the idea of being the conduit of creativity rather than the creator! 

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  7. Thanks for this post! I am in a creative field, but it can come with so much pressure and fear. At church this morning, we were talking about work (2 Thessalonians) and how we must do it for Jesus, Others and Yourself. Everything in your life should be done with that order in mind. And cheesy as it sounds, it spells out JOY. I think that if my priorities are aligned with this in mind, creativity follows. Keep on creating! :)

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  8. jseverydayfashionMarch 11, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    Oh my goodness, I agree! I hope it didn't sound like I blog because I like my content! That has definitely never been a motivation for me! (And honestly I am my own worst critic!)

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  9. jseverydayfashionMarch 11, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    I absolutely love this! Totally what I was trying to say here. I love the JOY acronym and definitely feel like that is a mantra for me.

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  10. jseverydayfashionMarch 11, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    Totally agree. Sometimes it flows better than others. I try to give myself credit for showing up and not worry about it too much!

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  11. Wow. I need this TODAY. Thank you so much for sharing this video and insight with us. I've been in a creative rut for a very long time (I'm an artist), which has been super frustrating. I completely agree with you -- creativity comes from God. It so amazing that we can connect to Him by "tapping into" His creative activity. :)

    http://crucifiedcondios.blogspot.com

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  12. Great post!  I'm an accountant, so you can imagine what end of the spectrum I fall on.  I'm going to think about this post while I work on tax returns ;-) and come back and re-read again later.  I enjoy my blog, but I often times feel like I lack the humor or creativity for it to be worthwhile to anyone else. But you bring out such great points, I do have gifts that God gave me that I can use, and I don't have to feel pressure to compare my blog to anyone elses. 
    And giving God the glory for the accomplishments He has allowed us.  That's been a prayer of mine lately, that I remember to do that and publicly thank him rather than always accepting praise for myself.
    Thanks again for a great post!

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  13. I love this post. I relate to it because I feel like I am gifted with creativity (and I crave it in my life when I don't get enough of it), but I've never wanted a career based solely on creativity because I felt like I would "run out of ideas." I'm starting my big internship tomorrow (I'm a speech-pathology student-which has a really nice science/art balance) and I'm getting those first day jitters. What if I forget everything I know? What if I'm bad at being an SLP? This post just made me think that the biggest challenge is just showing up, and God will help me get through it!

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  14. Cool post! As a scientist, I've spent the majority of my educational and professional life focusing on analytics. But my interests and hobbies definitely lean to the artistic and creative side! It's nice to have that balance!

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  15. I love this talk as well. Great post. :)

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  16. This is an awesome post and inspirtational post for Sunday :) I think, ever so often, we all need to reflect and realize how we are catalyst of God's divine work (if you believe in him.) Even if you don't, the joy of providing help, advice and an earnest ear in our lives is fulfilling - genorosity is one of the best gifts we can continue to keep giving... 

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  17. I view's EG's Ted talk shortly after it came out.  Yes!  What a relief for those who act as host for the Divine "genius"!  All your points are right on!!

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  18. Tara @ TaranomicsMarch 11, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    These are excellent thoughts!  I need to be reminded that all my work needs to be to His glory.  Thanks for this thought.  

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  19. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post Catherine! I loved reading your point of view! 

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  20. I used to have the same argument - can't do a creative job b/c I I will run out of ideas! Totally not true though. I think you are going to do amazing at your new job! I'm rooting for you.

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  21. This is the absolutely  *N.E.A.T.E.S.T.*  video!!    The part that most "spoke to me" was when Elizabeth Gilbert said, (during her 03:56 - 04:09 segment), "Somehow we've completely internalized and accepted collectively this notion that creativity and suffering are somehow inherently linked and that artistry, in the end, will always ultimately lead to anguish."

    However, my Rhetorical Question is, "Doesn't the *greatest* beauty, though............ (i.e., the *greatest* creativity/artistry;  and, to be honest, the *greatest* personal satisfaction!!)............ really often arise............ like a PHOENIX............ from the ASHES............ of REAL, (or at least very EMPATHETIC!!), suffering/anguish??"   

    For instance, would Michelangelo have been ABLE to sculpt his stunning masterpiece The Pieta----(now in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome)----WITHOUT experiencing, at least to some degree, his own PERSONAL suffering/anguish himself??    Would J.~~~(i.e., of J.'s Everyday Fashion Blog)~~~be able to keep going WITHOUT helping............ (and genuinely *EMPATHIZING* with!!)............ people, particularly those very busy;  stressed;  and often-exhausted women on tight budgets, whose Lives are unavoidably beyond-FULL............ and whose Fashion Lives are, (and/or have been)............ more-or-less complete "WRECKS"??   

    I think those amongst us who are the *MOST* creative/artistic~~~(i.e., like you certainly are, J.!!)~~~actually UNAVOIDABLY do "feel" the suffering/anguish involved in their READERS'/CLIENTS' simply "bein' human"............ and also, (subsequently)............ in their OWN empathetic suffering/anguish............ which is also often *inherent*............ i.e., WHILE being creative/artistic WITH their Readers/Clients, too!!

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  22. Awesome, awesome post.  I'm only a few weeks new to your blog, but this post has just solidified it as one of my absolute favorites.  I work in a creative field (cake decorating) and am struggling with accepting praise from clients.  When they tell me they love my work, its not unusual for me to respond "Well, thanks, its not quite how I envisioned it, so I'm not totally happy with it..." or I end up pointing out miniscule flaws.  I guess I too was uncomfortable feeling proud of myself.  Thank you for pointing out that I can give the glory to God (after all, He created me and gave me my gifts), and its not about me getting a big head.  On that note, God made you pretty darn awesome!!  :) 

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  23. Laura, this is so right on!! I think you explained #3 way better than I did. :-) I get really uncomfortable when people tell me they like my style too. Way easier for me to take the compliment now b/c the only credit I ever give myself is just for showing up to the creative process! :-)

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  24. Rosanna, I love the point you are making here - what an interesting way of looking at it! :-) I can totally see what you mean - angst seems to be a very common theme among creative people. From Van Gogh cutting of his ear, to the late Alexander McQueen. Thanks for sharing!

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  25. It is so refreshing to find a a "intelligent" speaker on a blog that is concerned with more then how she looks in clothes. I cannot bear another blog where women take photo after photo of themselves in the lastest "trend" seeming self serving and vapid with zero intelligence.  You have my vote for best blogger and most intelligent blog I have found. !!!! I am so impressed that you posting such intelligent strong women to encourgage and inspire us as your readers. Well done keep up the good post.
    You

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  26. jseverydayfashionMarch 12, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    I really appreciate this feedback, thank you Lexie! I'm always a little nervous going off-topic from fashion, but I gotta be honest when I say that fashion is just one teeny tiny part of my life. I do love clothes, but I love my church, travel, marketing, fitness and a million other hobbies just as much. :-) I enjoy sharing other parts of my life and random musings with you guys so I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed reading it!

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  27. Thank you so much for posting this! I come here for fashion inspiration, but wow, this was life affirming. I think I have something in my eye... 

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  28. Thank you for this great blog. I struggle with these same issues a lot. Just recently have I started to have the reassurance and confidence in what I do. I have always been a left brain person and wanted to be a small animal vet. While attending my freshman year Biology courses, god changed my course. I changed majors to another love of mine....interior design. I have now been a designer since 2008 and love it. But for a long time struggled with the issues are my ideas creative or good enough. I never was a creative thinker before. Again this is a great blog!

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  29. This is so inspiring! Thank you for sharing your story! I feel like I'm on a similar path - started out doing left brain jobs but now feel a big push towards the right. God knows what potential we hold there and are scared of, doesn't He? :-)

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  30. J, this is my favorite post of yours. I've seen you all over Pinterest but I typically shy away from "big name" blogs like yours because there's usually no "meat" to the blog.  This shows your heart and I appreciate that.  I'll be adding you to my blogroll.

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  31. I appreciate this feedback so much Trina! I have been experimenting this year with posting on other topics, so I'm glad to hear it was well received! :-)

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  32. I remember when you posted this video to your twitter a long time ago. I have wanted to find it again. I love the perspective on creativity that she has. It was a real epiphany moment when I saw it the first time. It really taught me that even though I have an uncanny memory there are so many ideas I lose when I don't write them down. This changed my life in ways I can't even explain. I don't consider myself them most creative person. I remember it everytime I have a creative idea. It's like you have one creative idea and they just grow from there. Thank you so much.

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  33. jseverydayfashionMarch 22, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    So glad you enjoyed it Nikki! I also started writing down ideas when they pop in my head (mostly outfit ideas) and find that not only do I remember them better that way, but I also wind up improving them as I think about them over time! :-)

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  34. You are such a blessing. I have learned sooooooooo much from following your blog in this last 2 months. In the past, I did not care about my appearance and in turn it affected how I saw myself and carried myself, I was dragging myself along. Now I feel more confident and adventurous with clothes and life in general. I truly love you for your sincerity and desire to help others. And I wish you even more success in ALL of your endeavors!

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  35. You are so sweet! Thank you for these kind words and for sharing your story with me! I truly feel blessed to have played a role in you feeling more confident! :-)

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  36.  Creativity can be stressful. Thanks for the tips and video.
    Keep up the great work!
    TA
    http://startupproplus.com

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  37. Very interesting post. I mostly agree with everything. I used to be very creative and writing used to be what I most loved. Then somewhere along the way I lost it in the sense that life got in the way. And I stopped writing. The longer I went without writing the harder it became to be creative. Like you, I enjoy other finite areas but they don't make me feel alive as I do when I'm letting my creativity come through. So until I get my creativity back I really won't feel my worth. Supressing one's creative abilities is like taking away the very essence of who you are. I know. I often fear that I'm going to spend the rest of my life fighting that sad sensation that I could've done more and what I spent my life doing was never really me.

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