“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ― Sylvia Plath
I’ve never written a blog post before partly because I didn’t think anyone would want to read it. Also, there’s definitely an ego issue; if I did write a blog and I didn’t get tons of praise then it mustn’t be very good. I put pressure on myself to be really good at things, I also constantly subconsciously seek validation. It’s exhausting. My own expectations freeze me into silence. Another thing is, I’m honest, sometimes too honest. Could I be guilty of over sharing or being self-indulgent? These are all fears that don’t help me to do the thing I want to do which is, write a blog post.
I’ve had a similar psychological process every time I think of creating anything. As a child you don’t hesitate before busting out a dance or slopping some paint on a piece of paper (or on your family kitchen wall). Along the way, society encourages us to put ourselves into a box with grades and tells us to only follow things we’re good at. Some people can navigate there way through this and as a society we put these successful artists up high on a pedal stool. Yet what makes them different to the average Joe? Probably many factors; socio-economic, race, gender, psychological etc. But when I strip it all back, the simple thing I can see is, they do it. Oh jeez, I sound like a Nike advert. The thing is, I have the privilege that I can (if I want to) create things and I do want to. Instead, I use my spare time to scroll through various social media platforms, fuelled with jealously at other people using their artistic voices.
This started to change in 2018 when I went to live on a small island in the Indian Ocean for 3 months. I travelled to Reunion Island because my boyfriend randomly got a job there. I semi-decided to use the time to write. It felt scary contemplating writing, but lucky for me I didn’t have much else to do. Thus far, I’d been an actor for 8 years and had written one monologue. I read and followed a 3-month creative programme called ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron. It’s a best-selling book for reclaiming your ‘inner artist’ and helps you discover your own artistic voice through various weekly exercises. It showed me a path toward creativity (no matter what that may be; drawing, painting, poetry, making a pasta shell necklace!) and seeing it as something that could be fun. I’d worked in a creative industry for so long, I saw being creative as work. It was important to prioritise finding joy within the process because if I don’t enjoy it, what’s the point!
During my time on the island, I realised how angry I was for not creating my own work ages ago. This anger held me back from starting anything (that’s always the hardest bit for me), the author Julia helped me see it’s never too late. Through the ‘Morning Pages’ exercise I started being kinder to myself. For those who don’t know what they are, the book recommends writing a stream of consciousness for three A4 pages every morning. Sometimes I write my pages in the afternoon, once a week or I’ll only write one page, it’s about doing whatever you fancy. I wrote most of this blog in my ‘Morning Pages’ at 12pm on a Friday in Lockdown after not writing anything for weeks. When I first started free writing, I was alarmed at how negative I was to myself. This has been the biggest change I’ve made; I couldn’t deny what I was doing because it was right there in front of me. The pages can surprise you; a little poem might pop out or more often I’ll write ‘blah, blah, don’t forget to take the bins out’. But either way, it helps me to clear my mind, observe, work things out, make plans and ideas. I try not to judge the pages I write.
During Lockdown I’ve been on an even more guilty rollercoaster with creating and not creating. Surprisingly though, I’ve actually started writing my own music on guitar, I’ve played since I was 8 years old but had never properly shared my own songs. Am I trying to make a career out of it? No. Is it fun? Yes! It’s a balance, I still have to feel financially secure, but it’s been a joy being creative for the sake of it, for me. Everyone as always, needs to do what’s right for them. Comparison is the enemy. You have your voice and there’s only one like it in the world, own that, in whatever way you want. Personally this whole isolation business has shone a mirror on my insecurities and the comfort blankets I use to escape doing what I really want to do. I’m practicing expressing myself, and it might not be perfect but the more I do it, the better I’ll get and most importantly the less I’ll care.