I’ve always considered myself a pretty creative person. In grade school I considered creativity my best asset. Parents, friends, teachers were in awe of the creative ideas or projects I would come up with and praise me for my unique way of thinking. And today, while I still work hard to produce lots of creative content weekly for my YouTube channel and blog, and people still occasionally praise me for my creativity, I feel less creative than I ever have.
Many times I long for the days of my childhood where out-of-the-box ideas were prolific. I can remember the constant stream of story ideas and the overflowing journals with poems, short stories, and reflections on life. I was always sketching or painting or working on a larger art project. Most of my clothes were some DIY creation, and every holiday/birthday/special event warranted a handmade card and gift.
But slowly–imperceptibly even–those creative activities that filled my thoughts and occupied my hands during every free moment slipped away, filled in by some obligation or self-doubt. It’s not that I stopped being creative. Creative thinking is a skill that you can bring to pretty much every part of your life, so I’ve continued doing creative things. But I lost the confidence to continue exploring the creative activities I’d always loved. I found myself spending more time using my creative skills for needs rather than just desires. And for me, the joy of creativity comes from being creative for creativity’s sake.
So enter the Creative Sprint! If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen some of my posts about it, but I wanted to reflect on the project as a whole on the blog this week. It was a 30 day challenge where you were emailed a daily prompt to help you make or do something creative. Prompts ranged from being inspired by the color green to using items you found outside or in your kitchen to create something. It also focused on cultivating a creative community with the hashtag #CreativeSprint so you could find other Sprinters and follow and encourage them and even had prompts asking you to work with or be inspired by them.
You would think that 30 days of creative projects for someone who loves being creative and desperately wants to inject some art back into her life would be a dream come true! And it was…in some ways. It was also a nightmare in others. Encouraging yourself to do a creative thing every day is easy. For me, coming up with an idea for a creative thing every day was pretty easy too. (It actually got to be quite exciting where I would go to bed happily anticipating what the next day’s prompt would be and gleefully opening my email when I awoke to read it). But actually DOING the creative thing came to be the hard part. I think that is where the self-doubt comes in. And why I stopped being so free with my artistic endeavors.
I still have lots of ideas–maybe not as many as I did when I was young and mostly obligation free as a tween (which, honestly, if you put aside all the hormonal changes, I’d suggest is the most creative and free time of your life). But I rarely follow through with any of those ideas anymore. I don’t create the giant mixed media collage because the canvas is expensive and where would I put it anyway? I don’t start writing the novel idea I had because I haven’t finished a novel yet so why should I start another idea for it just to rot half developed? I don’t actually sketch in my sketchbook because that last sketch I did wasn’t any good so why would I want to document my degrading art skills?
But during the month of October, I made myself DO the creative things. Sometimes it was with satisfaction and excitement. Other times it was past 9 pm and I was ready for bed but scrambling to scrape together something. There are days that I’m incredibly proud of. There are other days that I would rather hide from the world. But it can’t be argued that I now have 30 more art pieces than I started October with. And probably 30 more pieces than I would have created at all had there not been the Creative Sprint.
What I really took away from this challenge though is not just 30 pieces of art (good and bad), it was the realization that I have some work to do with overcoming my self-doubt when it comes to making art. Because I love painting and sketching and writing and creating things. But I’m stopping myself from doing those things out of fear. In the digital age where every creative thing a person does seems to need to be broadcast to the internet in order for it to be “real,” it’s hard to not compare yourself to others or to feel confident enough to share something that you’re proud of even if it’s not professional level art. (And who’s to say what’s “professional” level and what’s not anyway?)
Just like any other skill, you have to practice to get better. So I think if I want to get better at writing and art (or at least to get back to the place of confidence I was at in high school and early college), I need to work on it more. Maybe not everyday, but MUCH more often than I have been.
So what do you think? How have you struggled with your creativity and self-doubt or confidence issues? Tell me down in the comments!
Also check out this gallery of all the things I created for the Creative Sprint! I’d highly encourage you to sign up to participate in their next sprint which should be in May. Sign up now and they’ll notify you when it’s getting close!