One writer shares her story of the mental obstacles she had to overcome to live her most creative life.
Editor’s Note: Life changes a lot when you have kids and it is entirely possible that some of the activities you love just fall away. Sometimes it is for lack of time, sometimes it is for lack of energy, sometimes it’s because we might feel guilty for taking time away for ourselves, to do for the sake of doing and to step away for the sake of taking care of ourselves. I love this post by Taslim about tuning back into her creative self and living her most creative life. It beautifully describes the mission of Hello Creative Family – to let parents get back in touch with their creative selves so they can enrich their own life, and the family life for their children. You do have permission to just create – whether that’s getting in the kitchen to try a new recipe, or whether it is trying one of Crystal’s sewing projects. And, for me and Taslim, it might mean writing for the sake of writing – instead of to make money or other such practical things. Enjoy this post. -Karen
Creative Voices is an ongoing series to nurture the voices and writing of parents, both as a way to talk about creativity but also to express themselves. Do you want to contribute?
I’ve renewed my vows with Creativity. I’ve given myself permission to love It and spend time with It and do the whole give-and-take thing with It. Simply because I am in love, and have always been in love, with creating.
Not everyone who loves creating chooses to make a career out of it, and of course, it’s not necessary to do so. But things aligned for me in a way that made it possible for me to at least try.
My primary role which I have had to learn to love over the last few years is Domestic Goddess. Ten years ago, I would have said, What? That’s what you ‘do’? That’s your primary role in life – to cook and clean? I probably would have been a little disheartened. So, it was a struggle to embrace this role and it’s really just been in the last year that I have fully come to love it. Never have I had to grow more as a person than in this role of Domestic Goddess.
But on the side, I’ve done all kinds of writing: some paid and some to ‘build my portfolio.’ I’ve dabbled in everything from writing magazine articles to contributing chapters in anthologies, to developing my own personal development workbooks, to creating web and social media content. Last year, Creativity boldly stepped in and presented an opportunity to teach a poetry workshop at a drug treatment centre. I grabbed that opportunity and it set me on a more authentic, defined path that incorporates my love of writing and my passion for teaching. This has led to a new chapter in my journey that I will be sharing with you in time to come.
And that is all well and good, professionally.
But to create for the sake of creating…I was bumping up against some issues with that. I had started ‘writing for fun’ on my first maternity leave which is how I remembered how important writing is to my sense of relief in this human form. But then once I decided to take my creativity and turn it into a career, the focus became the career, and not the creating. Suddenly, creating for the sake of creating became frivolous. What would the end gain be? With my limited time, did it make sense to write stories that I didn’t know would publish? Bottom line: did it make business sense?
Because who has time to be a Domestic Goddess with 3 children (2 in school, 1 in daycare twice a week), who cooks from scratch at least 5 days a week, has kids in activities, volunteers sporadically at the school, blogs, and has a writing business? Well, after looking at my schedule, I realized, I do have time to create for the sake of creating. I simply had to take out my two biggest time-suckers: T.V. and mindless Internet surfing.
Now I have a chunk of time in my day (rather, night) at my disposal. It means no T.V. And I hide my phone (I already have the notifications turned off during the day). Yes, sometimes that time gets invaded by piddly things like filling out book order forms or field trip forms. Or those other miscellaneous life things that I can’t think of right now because I just want to get this out to you! But mostly this time is for me to write that story, research that book, practice my handlettering, read an article on creativity etc.
Basically, I have given myself permission to create, because I am not a whole person without it. Away from the burden of it needing to make money. Oh, like a hobby! Yes, creating is also my hobby.
So here’s what I bump up against – which is not as easy to work out as the ‘where do I find the time’ factor: I think that people who know I am writing for fun, or practicing handlettering without having an end financial goal with it, must think I am lucky. And why is it a problem to be lucky? Because lucky people don’t have it rough. And why is it a problem to not have it rough? Because people who don’t have it rough aren’t grateful. They’re child-like, they’re ‘takers’, they’re simply lazy.
I think, they must think I’m mooching off my husband who is basically the sole income provider right now. I think, they must think I’m not ambitious because I’m not some kind of big decision-maker in a very important company. I think, they must think I’m not intelligent enough to be doing whatever it is they’re doing.
You know what else I think? I think I am going to just focus on my commitment to Creativity and stop caring what other people think. (They are probably not even thinking about me at all anyway).
When I’m 90-something years old on my deathbed, if I look back on a life of not creating simply for the sake of creating, I will leave this world a very sad person.
It sounds dramatic (isn’t that a sign of a creative person?) but it is so incredibly true that along with eliminating T.V. and mindless Internet surfing, I think I’ll also take off ‘care what people think about my creating for fun’ from my list of time-suckers.
Yeah. That’s what I’ll do.
If you struggle with the same sort of inner dialogue, or are looking for permission to create for the sake of creating, here it is. And I’d like to give a huge shout-out to one of my favourite writers, Elizabeth Gilbert, who recently did the same for me through her book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.
This post originally appeared on Let Me Out Creative.