A question we have asked ourselves time and time again at Creative Retreats UK is how we unlock creative potential. What is it within ourselves that, if successfully plugged in to, can power us a truly creative and fulfilling life?
***And the intention is not to provide the answer to that question, even if just fresh from Retreat*** Because we know we simply do not have it. We cannot tell you how to unlock your own creativity. We cannot give you the key. But we can reassure you of something: that we definitely believe in you. One of the things we can tell you right now, is that the key to your creativity is you. You are the best resource you have ever and will ever have in understanding your own creativity. And the more thinking time and space you give to that process of unlocking it, the easier you will eventually find it to turn on your creative key.
Here’s what we do know. We know that creativity isn’t bound by any single definition. That it comes in all shapes and sizes and doesn’t necessarily fit into the stifling molds that our schooling might have limited us to. Nor should it have to. The creative process allows us the unique freedom to express ourselves individually and explore what’s on our minds and in our hearts. Our commitment to plugging in to that dimension gives us access to a whole new level of creative electricity.
We also know how important a factor environment is in supporting creative pursuits. The humdrum of the city becomes an inevitable distraction off that path and it’s easy to feel puzzled in the search for a suitable place for creation. Especially in shared spaces and with little time in a day.
But with openness and comfort, it is possible to switch off the external world. To free up the space to begin the important work of plugging in to something deep within. We begin to ask bigger questions. We give pages, song lyrics, head space to our ideas, and in turn contribute to the process of unlocking. We begin to realise, that the only thing standing in the way of living out a truly creative and fulfilling life: is ourselves. It is our will to search for the door, find the lock and push forwards: our will to continue that creative pursuit lovingly as we walk through. To be present for an idea we have that has been pestering us on the bus to work. To listen carefully to the narrative that keeps coming back to us in our dreams. To keep giving time to the projects we procrastinate with. To put paint to sketchbook and go with it, despite the competing elements of our lives that pull us away from that thing.
***DISCLAIMER*** The journey to unlocking one’s own creativity is not always a straight forward one. But, through the act of giving time and space to our innards, we begin an inevitable process of purging our creative sins. Of drawing out and moving on from failed projects, bad ideas, previous rejections: of moving away from faulty electrical wiring and towards an understanding of what helps us with ignition. Some will stop when it gets hard, and it does. They will stop producing if they feel they are stuck, or lose themselves in their own creations. They will find themselves looking for something to liberate them, blind to the fact that commitment to the process itself is what will eventually set them free. That every time they show up for this side of themselves, they add form to an internal key.
We are learning what helps us to be creative. It seems like being creative could be as simple as picking up a pen. And for some it might well be. Some people have reached a point of simply grabbing their tools and plugging in. And that feels magical. What seems to be the case more often than not though, is that living a creative life is not about being either gifted or terrible at doing this. Creativity is a practice. It is a way of life akin to that of a marathon runner or a martial artist. It requires dedication, persistence and encouragement. It requires hours, it requires grit, it requires sportsman’s resilience. The creative muscle must do its reps if it is to be strong enough to dismantle the portcullis that stands in our way: if it is bold enough to continue formulation of an internal key.
Mindset is everything. Creativity is not a gift, nor is it just reserved for the gifted. It requires work for us to feel its benefits. It requires warmth, safe space, encouragement, continuous nourishing, and nurturing to set the foundations of a healthy bond within. Some might start creating and soon give up. They begin to play the piano and it sounds beautiful, but then they short circuit. They forget the notes, they cannot read that piece in the music, they become tired. Their hands start to feel too small for the keys. They quickly brand it something transient, they talk about it in the past tense as something they ‘had a go at last week.’ They believe it’s lost.
The way we relate to our creativity is a reflection of how we relate to ourselves. If we do not eat, we will starve. If we do not continue to give our time to the creative spirit within, the same happens. What emerges as crucial from all this, is the shaping of our creative keys via an internal source of love, dedication and kind nurturing. The inner confirmation that we do not need the approval of others to validate our productions. Of understanding that the best and most fulfilling creative experience is first and foremost with ourselves and for ourselves. It is the fun process of painting what we want, penning what we wish, of listening to the melody within and inviting that character to sing.
The key to unlocking our creativity is closer to home than we might first think. With the appropriate belief, love, support, connection and resilience – we can get on our way to exploring what we enjoy, what we are truly made of, and find our own answers as to how we wish to live it out as we realise it’s there within.