The truth about creativity

Wanting to be creative isn’t enough for me to get there. As much as I may want to switch it on for any reason, I can’t easily settle on any idea that I like. I find it difficult to write in any kind of pleasing way intentionally – I always lean towards raw information and blunt points. But when I’m writing just for myself, when I’m feeling overwhelmed with emotions and explore my thoughts through words on a page, the words flow thick and fast in a way that I wish I could harness. I’ve written a lot of mediocre and embarrassing pieces in attempt to replicate this – it’s never the same.

I adore reading creative and emotional works but it takes very specific circumstances for me to be able to write them myself. I’m very goal oriented in my writing, I usually have some point or argument I’m discussing. I can’t write ‘pretty’ even when I want to. Descriptive writing frankly bores me, at least when I’m describing tangible objects. Impersonal things. But now and then, something clicks in my head and I can write something meaningful. Something I find beautiful. Something that perfectly encapsulates my whole landscape of emotion and thought. In my experience, this happens when I don’t give myself direction. An idea appears and I pounce on it before I can make a plan and ruin the spontaneity and magic. I decided to do that with this post. I’ve got no plan or point I want to make. I’m just writing because I want to feel something deeply – it gives me a high I can’t describe.

A lot of times I suffocate my creativity with fear. I have had many ideas to write about things that I’m not personally going through, but I worry that people who see it will think that my writing is my experience. I like to write highly emotive pieces; sad, dark, angry, passionate, yearning… even when I don’t feel any of those things at the time. In the past I wrote some intense things I didn’t feel, and the attention it brought was something I didn’t want to experience again. But I loved writing those pieces, it made me feel amazing. I was proud of how I had managed to capture emotions with words and could make people feel a particular way, whether they liked it or not. It felt… powerful. I can’t do it as easily anymore. I think refusing to write contributed to me losing the ability to do so even if I tried. I want to get that ability back – to write freely about anything without worrying what people who think of me as a result. To be confident in my writing even if it isn’t based on my own experience.

I take great joy in writing things that make me feel something strongly, but it can also be dangerous. I can take on and feel pain very vividly for scenarios that I merely imagine. This can be torturous for me – I recently made a decision some time before I could carry out the actions to cultivate it, and I was torn up inside for days imagining what would happen and how I would feel. I kept doubting my choice, to-ing and fro-ing, trying to find reasons to change my mind, second guess, retract and reaffirm my decision. I agonised over options and their possible outcomes to the point I was afraid to make any choice at all. I was prompted to snap out of it by a concerned loved one who could tell something was eating at me.

In that moment I understood how serious my endless uncertainty and fear was; I knew that if they could see it, then it was something I could not ignore or put off any longer. It was destroying me to such a point that this internal struggle was becoming externally apparent. I knew I just had to lay it all out, explain my reasons and make known the pain the decision had given me. I still don’t feel like I managed to explain my feelings fully at the time. I felt like crying my heart out, but it felt as if every drop of moisture had been stolen from my body. I wanted to scream until I collapsed on the floor but all I could do was sit in silence and desperately ache. It was as if I had used up all of my emotions in the past few days in possible imaginary outcomes, and now there was nothing but a husk of myself left – unfeeling, distant, cold. I had planned all the things I would say to explain myself, and I said every single one of them – but it wasn’t enough. No metaphor I could come up with could capture all I was feeling. But now… this is. This is exactly how I feel – wholly and entirely.

I am riddled with fear in these very moments while I tap away at my keyboard. Who will read this? What will they think? What will they ask me? Will I be able to answer? But I will not let that stop me. I will not let fear suffocate this outlet today. I have written the things I feel and I am satisfied with what I have created.

I wrote all of this in one sitting. I felt every word that I wrote – it was wonderful. When I opened this blank document, I had little idea what I wanted to say. I knew I wanted to write about creativity, but nothing more specific than that. I became lost in my thoughts and despaired at my inability to be creative at the drop of a hat. But as let my mind drift, I wondered if I could create a circumstance where creativity would come naturally. And now I have proven to myself that I can. I just started writing – it was slow at first but as I let my fingers tentatively tap the keys, I let the words take whatever direction they wished and I rode the wave. My thoughts flurried and at times I forgot how I moved from one topic to the next, but my mind was buzzing and I felt an indescribable relief as I let everything pour out of my soul and onto the page. Emotions swept over me and I couldn’t stop writing until I got it all out. And now I am calm.

There is a place for plans – but I cannot plan my creativity. It comes and goes somewhat unpredictably. I once tried to write a song just to see if I could and it took me months – but I recently wrote another in just one afternoon. The difference? Inspiration. That second song wasn’t premeditated – I wrote it at the very moment I thought of it (right in the middle of exam revision). I wrote out of love – love for music and love for a person. And that song is so special to me. It’s not as complex or technically impressive as my first. Less time went into making it and the final product is a shorter song. It has limited range and cheesy lyrics. But it is a pure, true expression of my feelings and thoughts and emotions about someone I find remarkable. That is why it came so easily. It was real.

That is the power of words and writing. They can make you feel something as real as the breeze at the beach. Finding the right words can be challenging, and one piece of writing will not touch everyone in the same way. But do not be afraid. Creativity will always come.

Stay safe,

keyboardphilosopher

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