“I’m Not Creative,” and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves


“Poetry often enters through the window of irrelevance.” — M.C. Richards

I can’t draw, so I’m not creative. The word “creative” is only for people who identify as artists, or who have God-given gifts in the arts that are obvious to everyone. I bought this story hook, line, and sinker at very young age, and held onto it until well into my forties.  Whenever I heard, “Everyone is creative” or similar, I always thought that was such bullshit. 

Since then, I have seen that perhaps some of my unconventional life choices (driving cross-country alone three times, marrying into a radically different culture, homeschooling my kids) demonstrate that I know something about creative living.  But otherwise?  In the more traditional sense of the word? Nope, not creative.   When I decided to start blogging, I thought, OK, blog posts could sort of be considered a type of creative writing, but not really. ‘Cause it’s not fiction. And I definitely do NOT write poetry.

Or so I thought. I recently wrote the second of two poems I’ve ever written (except for maybe some very forced, unhappily assigned ones in seventh grade!). The first was about birth. That one came out of nowhere the morning after a night at work attending the births of two amazing women.

The second one was inspired by a prompt I received as part of a lovely online women’s program I’m in. Each woman received a “secret message” card in the mail.   Mine is the one in the picture. We were told to just sit on them for a while, and we would work with them later. I was a little amused but mostly neutral about my secret message. I sort of believe in past lives, but not strongly. I like the idea, but I have no attachment to it. Certainly, there were no initial “Aha” moments about what meaning those words might hold for me. I wondered if I’d be able to come up with anything once there was an assignment to get creative around it.  When it was time to do something with this secret message, I looked at it again, and suddenly the meaning of “past lives” expanded to include ancestors and past lives from THIS life. And this poem came flying out, just like that:

Past Lives

…can only hurt you from exile
You needn’t forget them
That girl
Those women
They are your allies, your partners in crime
They have been waiting patiently for you to know
Gather them. See them.
Listen for the song
Don’t banish your inner eye

I’m no expert in poetry—I’m not even an avid reader of it (yet). I have no idea if these poems are any good or not. Maybe they suck, as poems go. I don’t care. They please me. Why is that? Because they surprised the shit out of me. They seemed to show up on their own, from somewhere other than the place I usually write from, mysterious to me. And writing them gave me a jolt of strange, new energy. I don’t really understand it, but I like it.

So now I believe it–everyone is creative.

Have you “always wanted to” write, or paint, or draw, or sing, or dance, or choreograph, or act, or write songs, or make furniture, or sculpt, or design, or…..? Have you not found the time, or told yourself, “I don’t do that stuff,” or “I’m not good at it,” or “I can’t, because…” or “who do I think I am?”   Stop it, already. And don’t worry about “good enough.” Do it. Read The Artist’s Way. Join a group or a class, or don’t. Either way, begin. You never know where it will take you.   You may find something you would never have guessed was in there.

That’s when it gets really good, because you realize how much more must be possible and open to you than you thought.  So who knows what’s next?

© Camille Williams and Wake Up, Mama! 2015

4 thoughts on ““I’m Not Creative,” and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

  1. Melissa R says:

    Me too.. not an artist! I always struggle with that! Last week I discovered that the RISD museum is giving free membership to adults who identify as an artist. I said nope, not me. But with some encouragement I did it. I got the free membership and that moment gave me some assurance!

    FYI… if anyone in the RI area is interested in an Artist’s Way program, my mom has been teaching these for decades and I believe she has two going on now (maybe 3) in different parts of the state (they meet through town libraries). I think if you google Marsha Leonard Artist’s Way you will find the programs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “They seemed to show up on their own, from somewhere other than the place I usually write from, mysterious to me. And writing them gave me a jolt of strange, new energy.”

    That, my dear friend, is the creative process described to a tee. You are definitely creative!

    Also, I’ve done “The Artist’s Way” twice in my life, and it brought out new and fascinating avenues of expression each time.

    Keep up the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

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