• Lauren Powers

Avoiding Creativity

Creativity doesn’t sound like it should be hard work. It sounds dreamy and passionate and idyllic—above the fray of everyday existence. To be creative is to see far, to feel deep, to wear bohemian clothes.

After too many years, I realized that this mystical picture of creativity essentially put it out my reach. If being creative started to feel hard, I wasn’t doing it right so I’d stop. If I didn’t love every moment of the work, I would stop. Mostly, I stopped.

This is the brain at work. It’s tricky territory, too. In a weird way, the oldest part of the brain is the most in charge—the survival instinct.

Our brain & body want to stay alive—that means being socially acceptable, part of a group that looks out for each other, gathers food and shares it together. To be turned out is to die. From here, weird outfits, strange ideas, and liberal notions might be the end of you.

While I live in a modern world where food is everywhere and groups to join are plentiful, this matters not a jot. A powerful part of the brain fears that I might overreach my station, anger others, wet myself, and get kicked out of the club.

Thus the terrible tension of yearning to create, reaching up for the resonance that creativity brings, while, at the very same moment, being pulled down into a morass of judgment and doubt that, strangely feels safer.

It’s an epic struggle to write a single blog post. My survival brain worries—you’re not smart/original/articulate/tall enough,” or, the real killer, “no one cares.” Suddenly the laundry needs doing.

The first step in getting over these fears is to observe them in action. Find two stories you have about creativity that actually keep you away from being creative.

· What story about creativity stops you cold?

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