Choosing to live creatively
I love a good book. As a child I was obsessed with reading. My nose was almost invariably found in a book. Unfortunately these days, what with the glowy distractions of TV or the t’interweb, I have to consciously make the effort to pick up my Kindle.
Except when I am on holiday when I devour books like a starved fat kid eating cake. I can bosh out a book a day when inclined. And as I’ve been on me holibobs these last few weeks, I’ve had my head in Liz Gilbert’s ‘Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear’. Some of you might recognise the name. She’s the woman behind the book Eat Pray Love. The one that got made into that film with Julia Roberts that every single woman in humanity went nuts for.
Anyhoo, the book is her thoughts on how to live a creative life and given I randomly decided to download this book a few weeks after I’d re-committed myself to my own humble creative endeavours – this blog – I felt it was worth recounting some of the things I’ve taken away from it. Because it really is an excellent book…and very very easy to read too.
Firstly, it’s probably important to define what she actually means by creative living. Gilbert explains that it’s not about pursuing a life that is professionally or exclusively devoted to the arts. Instead it’s about living a life full of your creative passions, whatever they are and whether they amount to anything or not.
Remember in my last post I talked about the ‘itch’. This for me is the feeling of living a life without any creativity in it. In my case this was a life without enough adventure, volunteering, freedom and a ‘passion’ project – whether that be a evening course or writing here.
Do you ever feel itchy? I speak to lots of people who do. And my advice is always the same, fill your life up with things which make you happy. Or as Liz would say, your creative passions. It might be taking up dance classes again, baking, playing football, learning French, going to art classes, writing, starting a book club. Whatever floats your boat really.
Once you've done that then keep the following in mind...
Pursue your passion for you, no-one else – In the book Liz explains that its okay if your creative ‘work’ is just something you do for fun and entirely for you. A hobby if you will. It doesn’t have to have a purpose, it doesn’t need to make money. It doesn’t need to garner praise from anyone else – hell other people don’t even need to know about it! The idea is that first and foremost it should be totally self-indulgent because by pursuing what you love you tend to reap rewards without even thinking about it.
Put away the idea of perfection – Because apparently it’s the enemy of creation. We’re all probably familiar with the feeling of fear as you look at a blank screen or page knowing that you have to start something on it – whether that be a document for work, an article or a plan for something you’ve been meaning to tackle. My first attempt at blogging (or just writing as I like to call it) actually started a couple of years ago. Unfortunately because I am a perfectionist, I never got further than 3 posts because I was embarrassed of the way the website looked. Sigh. Nothing is ever perfect and an imperfect something is better than nothing most of the time.
Creative living focuses the mind & leaves less time for over-thinking things out of your control – According to Liz possessing a creative mind is like having a border collie for a pet. You have to put it to work or else it runs riot. She explains that if she’s not actively engaged in creating something then her mind usually actively begins destroying things, herself, relationships or her own peace of mind. This is something I can really relate to. I am a massive over-thinking and analyser. And when my mind is not focused on a task then I have all unspent energy which goes into those things, often to very unproductive results.
The moral of this piece I guess is that if you feel like you’ve been holding yourself back from doing creative things then definitely read this book and go for it. I already know a lot of excellent people who’re embracing their creative passions alongside holding down a paying job and often while raising a family. Imma be sharing some of the work from those talented people in my next post. Because sharing is caring, or something like that.