I’ve been thinking about creativity a lot lately, what it means, and what it really means to live a creative life. Put simply: to be creative is to create something.
I believe that being creative is central to the human experience. We are all creative, we just don’t always recognise this in ourselves. We create things everyday – meals, solutions, works of art – things that are sublime and things that are mundane. I believe creativity is an inherent potentiality in each of us, something to nurture and not crush. We need to treat it sensitively and honour all the products of our creative endeavours, acknowledging their place in our lives. Recently I wrote about the art of doodling and how this simple act of creation helps me to relax. Doodling is not high art but it is an act of creativity and it is one that keeps me feeling grounded when I am becoming tense about everything I’ve got going on in my life.
Another avenue I find really helpful personally is writing in my journal, whether that is half an hour blurting on to the page everything that is running through my busy mind, or writing a poem or story, grasping to understand an idea or a feeling I’m finding it difficult to deal with.
When I had a number of friends and family die over a short period of time I found myself increasingly writing about grief and loss. I did this mainly through poetry, in an unconscious way, these ideas just slipped in to my writing. Reading back my poems afterwards, I saw that the feelings I had found so difficult to talk about in conversation with others, were easily expressed in the safety and privacy of my journal pages. It was really helpful to have this outlet as I struggled to both grieve and live my everyday life at the same time.
As someone who believes in the power of Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (CWTP), I believe that working with the creative self in this way is as much about working with people who don’t necessarily think of themselves that way, helping them to make a link with their already creative self, and become more flexible and open to options in the process.
I believe that if we can tap into it, our creativity can help us heal and live a fuller life. There is definitely evidence that writing can help us to achieve both physical and mental health – that is the well-being of the whole person, body and mind. I have been particularly fascinated by Pennebaker’s writing experiments in Opening Up (1990) and found his personal journey exploring scientifically the therapeutic benefits an extremely engaging read. Through these experiments, he and his co-researchers found there was a relationship between writing and health.
Pennebaker, J. (1990) Opening Up. New York: The Guildford Press
Rogers, C. (1961/1967) On Becoming A Person. London: Constable