I used to believe that I was born without a creative bone in my body. Growing up, my mother was a master in crafts and DIY projects, and my sister gracefully followed suit. When it was time to make decorations for parties, centerpieces for family events, or arts and crafts to decorate the church for vacation bible school, I was demoted to cutting and gluing while they took on the tasks that required vision and technique.
This didn’t really affect me until I realized that I want to be creative. I want something, some hobby, some art, some craft that I could call my own. As time passed I found photography, and as even more time passed I discovered film photography. While this did become my medium and force for self-expression, I knew that there was more for me. Since I began writing during the pandemic, I started to claim creative writing to be my thing. But, I have recently found myself at a standstill because I don’t really know how to be creative with my words. To be completely honest, I’m still learning what creativity looks like for me.
Painters have their canvas, artists have their sketchbooks, and I have my paper and pen, but how do I use them in a way that sparks creativity in me?
I hoped to find this answer while in my creative writing courses. Between Poetry, Fiction, and now Nonfiction, these classes have taught me a lot about technique and craft, but I still felt like I was missing something. I felt a strong desire to write, and I wanted to write in a way that was authentic to me.
As I began to explore how to create authentically, I sought out advice from my favorite creative minds: Tyler the Creator, Virgil Abloh, and Solange. I knew that I didn’t want to copy their flow play-by-play, besides I acknowledged that we are all operating in different fields. My goal was to find out what inspired them, what got them going, where do they find their spark? I searched YouTube for interviews, talks, speeches, anything. With this, I found useful channels for creative inspiration and advice, Creative Minds, FRIENDS & FAMILY, and fwens. Each of these channels had compilations of advice and tips from different creative artists.
In my search, I realized that creativity and identity are deeply intertwined. In order to operate from a place of true creativity, my favorite creative minds, and anyone who does creative work, have a deep understanding of their feelings and their stance on certain things. Being creative requires a high level of self-awareness, confidence, and heart. To reach the type of creativity that I hoped to embody, I realized that I had to know myself, like really, really know myself.
This was a hard truth for me to sit with for many reasons.
First, I wanted the answer to be easy. The thing that I was searching for, the key to unlocking my creative genius, I wanted it to be something simple and something that I can do now. I wanted to be hit with something fresh and new, so I was disappointed when I realized that the key to my creative genius is inside of me, I just have to find it. Self-exploration is hard and can be a long process, which leads me to the second hard-hitting truth: I don’t know where to start. I think I know myself relatively well but not enough. I know what I like and don’t like. I know my values and standards. I know some of my hobbies. But when it comes to piecing all of those together to make me “me”, I feel like there are pieces of the puzzle that are missing. I don’t know what to do with the information that I already have to complete this puzzle.
All in all, I realized that in order for me to operate out of a place of full creativity, I have to go on the journey of self-discovery and uncovering my identity. My journey is just beginning and I have a long way to go.