"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." Pablo Picasso
What is it with becoming an adult? Somewhere between the teen years and the twenties we begin to take ourselves way too seriously for our own good. We trap inhibitions inside of ourselves and allow them to take root as we get older. Why do we fear our own creative process?
"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong." Joseph Pearce
During our adoption wait, I'm definitely learning the lesson of letting go of control in many ways and that includes my creative processes. This means letting go of the expectations of being perfect at every creative endeavor that I pursue. I have a tendency to quit before I even start. My problem is that I allow self doubt to creep in when I approach any project that requires creativity. It squashes any bit of enthusiasm that I have or may have once had and, thus, my creativity is virtually held hostage by it.
I've been procrastinating a project for a few months. The project is a lifebook for our daughter that we are adopting. At first I thought, "I'll just keep it simple", too intimidated by the idea of creating a "scrapbook" per say. I thought that if I create a "scrapbook" then that means I've got to make it perfect and create a masterpiece of a scrapbook; I have to design each page as if I have a college degree in scrapbooking, fully loaded with every dye cut, embellishment, and trinket known to man. And to make matters worse, I bought a scrapbooking magazine to generate ideas, but got even more intimidated, and naturally, set the project on the shelf for a few more months.
Now mind you, I am not creating this book for the Queen of England. It's for my daughter's eyes only, and she'll love whatever her momma does, right? Silly me! Somehow that thought never occurred to me throughout this whole drama.
"We cannot escape fear. We can only transform it into a companion that accompanies us on all our exciting adventures...Take a risk a day -- one small or bold stroke that will make you feel great once you have done it." Susan Jeffers
Determined to get over this hump, I gave myself some boundaries. I know myself well enough to know that I do well with boundaries; otherwise, I'd walk into the craft store, get overstimulated by all of the scrapbooking choices, have a panic attack, and be sent to a mental institution before ever beginning the said lifebook. The boundaries that I set were that I'd use only the following: an empty 8.5 X 8.5 scrapbook (smaller pages require less designing); a stack of Chinese-printed paper; one stack of colored paper; a limited number of stickers; one cutting tool; and scraping tape. The more narrow the choices, the better I can focus.
Not knowing what in the world I was getting into or where it would lead, I just started cutting. Layering paper. Taping. Collaging. And one thing led to the next, and I was actually having fun with it -- dare I say, an exciting adventure! I was learning to let go and let my creative processes take over. It was a miracle, people! Then I surprised myself even more -- I started making my own embellishments! I was actually gaining courage to take a risk or two with my creative impulses, and it was working to my advantage! I was getting SCRAP HAPPY!
So as it turns out, the book taught me a lesson or two. It challenged me to overcome the ridiculous expectations that I place on myself. I'll admit I'm no Martha Stewart, but I can improve my crafting skills to the point that I'm not hyperventilating at the mere thought of being creative.
My advice for fellow sufferers of creative paralysis -- allow creativity to take place in you. We were designed to be creative creatures. Provide yourself with a few boundaries, let go, and see what happens. Explore your potential. There are no mistakes in allowing your creative processes to flow. You'll discover that you're more creative than you think. And you'll feel great once you've done it. I did.