Wednesday, November 02, 2011


I was sitting at a concert last week, and started thinking about creativity. What is it? How does this weird thing WORK?

For a large chunk of my childhood, my creative outlet was ballet. From 8-16, I danced nearly every day. Christmas meant Nutcracker time more than anything else. I was in a company; I had significant roles. I always felt a little queasy before going on stage, but once there I slurped it up. It was my place.

Though ballet is not a personal creativity, per se. Yes, you express yourself in the dance, but you do the steps as someone tells you to, in coordination with others. It's like the symphony, a joint effort.

Then I piled up too many injuries, and things happened, and I stopped ballet. Cold turkey.

I didn't know what to do with myself. All this time. All this lack of direction. I was just like...a normal person or something. Ugh.

So I took a drama class, at my high school. The first few classes I was shy and awful. You mean you want me to talk in front of people? But they can see me! But I had the revelation that I could let go in this situation. It wasn't as proscribed as ballet. I could improvise, have fun. By the end of that class I was voted Most Improved--and a month later I got one of the leads in the school play. Enter phase 2.

Acting is more creative than ballet, definitely. There's more of you involved--you now add voice to body and expression. But with the exception of improvisation, it's still someone else's words, someone else's story.

I rode on acting for a couple years. Then I graduated from high school and headed off to a huge university. I wasn't confident enough to try acting there. I didn't dance anymore. What should I do with myself?

I was an English major--so I read a ton, and dabbled in bad poetry, but mostly I just wrote essays. I was a little...lost. I didn't have any creative outlet. I thought about writing a novel, but I just didn't feel like I'd lived enough to have any stories to tell (I may have been right).

It wasn't until years later that I finally decided I COULD try writing, and I feel like right there, my true creativity was found. With stories, it's all me. My words, characters, plot, world. I've tried to stop writing, for various reasons, but it's never lasted long. Even when I stop, I still tell stories in my head.

Child acts, and dances, and even writes stories, but so far her true passion is drawing.

I imagine creativity as a force that comes from within someone, or maybe surrounds them. It ferrets its way out in whatever form it can find: music, dance, art, theatre, writing, comedy, whatever. And then if you stop that form, that outlet, it builds up pressure until you have to let it out somewhere else, or you'll explode. Or implode, perhaps.

But what of people who don't do any of those things? My husband doesn't, for one. Lots of people don't. Is the urge, the force, just not there?

I know lots of you are creative people. What are your thoughts/experiences?


Anonymous said...

I wonder about non-creative people too, sometimes. Sometimes I want to ask left-brainers, how do you do it? But we're all just created so differently. I mean, I know people who like creating Excel spreadsheets! Perhaps some people are more of absorbers -- the need for creative folks to reach an audience needs someone to soak up that creative force, right?

Linda G. said...

I think everyone is creative in some way. Maybe just not in the most recognizable way -- the Arts. Some people are creative thinkers, problem-solvers, fixers, that sort of thing.

Susan Adrian said...

Cover Girl and Linda:

I agree that everybody's creative in some ways. But that's different, isn't it? Not everybody has the URGE to create something, to not just solve problems (important!) but put something of themselves into the world.

*still thinking*