Completing the 30 Life Lessons last month was full-on. It took a lot out of me, and while I didn’t plan on taking the following month off from blogging, I found myself delighted to have some time free just for me again.
I dove headfirst into multiple creative projects. So many that I started to get overwhelmed and disoriented. Before long, my free time started to feel a little crowded.
During July, I was involved in or contemplating these projects:
- Birds, Blooms and Butterflies
- Inner Excavate-Along
- 7 Creative Powers
- 30 Day Journal Project
- Creative Dream Circle
Not to mention I’ve been doing my own written journaling, thinking about the blog and newsletter, brainstorming ideas for creating my own online courses, thinking about making a bucket list journal, and mulling over novel ideas. Oh yes, and working and building a house too.
This is not the first time this has happened to me.
In an attempt to combat this overwhelm, I made a list of all the things on my creative radar. I divided this list up into three categories:
This way I could clearly make sense of all the directions I was feeling pulled.
Then I prioritised each item on the list in terms of what was urgent (for example, a live course that was running now only, or a membership that was about to expire) and what could wait.
Great, I thought. Now I know what to focus on and what to put aside for later.
I had created a sense of creative direction for myself. It was foolproof. If only I could have ignored the fact that the priorities I had selected were of no interest to me at that time, then it would have been perfect.
It was my own fault, really. I took a totally left-brain, logical, rational approach to an entirely creative and intuitive problem.
You see, the issue wasn’t that I had too much going on. The issue was that I felt like I should be doing something else, rather than listening to my creative intuition.
I felt like I should be making the most of a course I had signed up for.
I felt like I should be finishing off a set of prompts I had already begun.
I felt like I should complete one journal before beginning another.
I felt like I should try to get the most out of a course before it was over.
I felt like I should finish one course before doing another.
If I had just stopped to ask myself, what do I really really want to do? then I would have had my answer: paint. I want to paint, in journals. I want to fill journals with paint.
I see creativity like this: it is all over the place. Some days I want to write in my journal for hours, others I want to carve stamps. Some days I want to watch YouTube videos of my favourite painters at work, others I want to read about journal writing. Some days I want to play with paper and glue, others I want to write. Some days I want to do a bunch of prompts from a course, others I want to play with watercolours.
Each and every creative activity nourishes us as we need it to, when we need it to. The act of listening to our creative intuition in each moment allows us to do what is most important to us in that moment.
I have learnt that sometimes I am incredibly focused on one thing to the point of obsession. But it is these short bursts of creative focus that allow me to get things done.
Other times, I am a creative butterfly, hopping from one project to the next, not really finishing much but loving the variety.
Accepting this and allowing myself to follow my creative intuition has been incredibly freeing. Trusting that I will find the focus I need when I need it, I can enjoy the pull to new things for now.
The problem only really comes about when we insist that things be done a certain way – when we let our shoulds interfere.
I invite you to consider the following prompts in your journal:
What are your creative shoulds?
How do they limit you?
How can you give yourself more creative freedom?
What would happen if you followed your creative intuition and released the shoulds?
How can you put more trust in your creative process?
2 thoughts on “The problem with creative shoulds”
This struck a chord with me today. You put into words something that I had been feeling, but didn’t know why. How helpful this is!
I will ponder your prompts and see what happens! Thanks for sharing these thoughts. They were illuminating for me.
Hi Lynda, I’m so glad to hear this has helped you! I just got a bit sick of feeling guilty for wanting to try lots of different things and decided to give myself a break from all the shoulds. I hope this helps you to do the same! Let me know how you go 🙂