Growing Creative Dreams

How do I nurture, support, and encourage my dream? How do I make the magic happen? How do I give my dream wings?

The short answer: Build up enough steam to overcome inertia. Top up the fuel. Find a solid crew. Stick with it. Let ‘er rip!

The other answer: For me, the most difficult step has been … each one of the above. The sequence is not a straightforward, direct progression. It seems to be a series of spiraling loops, sometimes moving forward, sometimes back, sometimes up, sometimes down. But if you can keep moving, then little by little — and sometimes by leaps — your dream comes closer.

I am not sure it ever becomes easy-as-pie. But I believe creativity is like a muscle. It becomes stronger through use. If you haven’t used it for a while, at first you might feel a little sore.  If you expect to all of a sudden leap tall buildings in a single step of creative muscle display, then you will smack your head on a wall, because that is just not realistic!

But if you exercise it gently and increase the intensity and duration little by little over time, it will strengthen. I am not sure how strong we can grow it, but I am sure its strength and intensity will surprise you.  Maybe there is no limit. And the truth is, as you find the groove and keep on moving, it feels so good to use it!

It took me decades to build up the confidence and belief in my dream to put down my early training and education (I earned an MBA eons ago on a misguided path) and get started as a creative being in a serious way. I studied and read up on creativity, I became a certified creativity coach. I finally realized I could be an artist in addition to being the writer people had long told me to be. Once that happened, I began making bigger strides faster and faster.

The creativity bug was always there inside me, but somehow I missed the signals, or ignored the signs, or tried to stuff them down because it didn’t fit the life plan I was “supposed” to be on. And you know what, I was pretty miserable!  When I finally admitted there was an inkling (cat on keyboard alert: yuhhhhhhhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyhu) stirring and the closer it came to the surface, the more it felt like trying to put a genie back into its bottle. I began taking very small steps to allow myself to experience how it felt to create with my hands once again. With each class I took, with each project I tried, my creativity muscle grow stronger.

Over the past few years I have deliberately added support for my creativity because it is hard to stay creative in a vacuum. Besides taking skill-building and creativity classes and workshops, I have sought out artist friends and cohorts for moral support and as co-conspirators on projects. Recently I have been building a local network of creative people to try to spark connections and inter-disciplinary projects.

I have been actively showing and selling my art, practicing to become comfortable with the myriad ways people receive (or reject) my work. Some days my hands shake as I label the pieces to be shown. I find this exhibiting process so nerve-wracking, but it is part of the game I have chosen to play. I know I can become more comfortable with it through practice and familiarity and streamlining the steps; I am beginning where I am and moving forward little by little. It is getting easier.

I also humor myself. You might be familiar with “artist dates” as described by Julia Cameron in her now classic book, The Artist’s Way? I go on artist dates all the time.

I linger outdoors and admire the bees working in the mahonia in my yard, I accompany the neighbor kids as they plant worms in their vegetable garden, I go to the coast and stare at the ocean pretending to watch for whales. I search for agates and fossils in remote places. I buy myself toys — art supplies, too — and play with them. I entertain myself whenever possible. I might spend a long time in the grocery store, admiring the produce and floral sections, eyeballing the flashy packaging on snacks, and examining the latest in pop culture at the magazine rack. I’ll open the bulk spice jars to sniff them. I bop to the Muzak. Sometimes I buy a Nutrageous candy bar and eat it on the way home while blasting top 20 pop really loud.  And if I see a good looking horse grazing in a field along the roadside I will crow “POHNEEEE!” to celebrate the sight of it. It sounds silly written out like this, but these kinds of things make me happy and they feed my inner artist.  Artists are kids at heart. 🙂

Sometimes my inner artist craves a trip to a museum or the sophistication of a major city, or the discovery of somewhere altogether foreign, new and different. Sometimes it craves nostalgia. Sometimes it demands “nature” and sometimes it demands the comfort of a soft sofa and a good gardening book. I try to listen and take heed, because when my inner artist speaks it is speaking for my soul.

I recognize that keeping the inner artist stimulated and happy makes my art better. It helps me sleep better and concentrate better. It makes me a nicer person to be around. I laugh more. It’s like the sun shines brighter when I am up to date on artful living.

And when I feel filled up, I create more exciting work, more inspired work. The pace quickens and the work flows. It gets easier. Paradoxically, it may be quite difficult in the sense of technical or logistical problems to solve, but it is interesting and I am fully engaged in the joy of the doing. In that sweet spot, I know I am doing the right thing.

The most important thing I’ve ever done for my dream was way back when I began to believe it might just maybe be possible, that maybe I really did want it and maybe I could find a way to do that after all. I took a tiny, tentative step towards it. The earth didn’t crack open and swallow me up. By showing up that first time, I breathed hope and life into it.

I took a few more cautious steps, one foot at a time. Now it has a life of its own. Some days I feel like I just have to hold on and keep up. Other days I might feel like I need to shake things up and kick start the engine – because life is unpredictable and because I’m human, and I am still practicing. But the trajectory is set. And I get to choose it!

During the past few years, I’ve noticed that the saying “Luck = Preparation meets Opportunity” seems accurate. I’ve also noticed that you have to “Show up in order to be counted.” In other words, there is no magic bullet. You have to do some work to make your dream come true, but there’s no rule that says you can’t make it as easy on yourself as possible with encouragement, nurturing, compassion, gentle course corrections.

If you feel encouraged to experience your creativity more fully,  I’d love to hear about that. My wish is that everyone could consider themselves to be creative and enjoy using that creativity muscle every single day.

This post was written as part of the Give Your Dream Wings Blog Hop. If you enjoyed this post, please share it. Then check out the rest of this fabulous Hop!

The Give Your Dream Wings Blog Hop is a peek inside the process of how inspiring people make the magic happen. We’ve got some of the internet’s most inspiring bloggers sharing how they give their dreams wings – what they do that supports, nurtures and encourages their tender dreams to come to life.

This is happening in celebration of the new e-course of the same name by Andrea Schroeder of the Creative Dream Incubator. The Give Your Dream Wings e-course shows you how to nurture and grow YOUR dream, for free, in only 10 minutes a day. You do not have to wait until you have more time or money!

Click here to find out about the free e-course, and to read the other (crazy inspiring!) posts in this Blog Hop.

Author: Barbara Martin

4 thoughts on “Growing Creative Dreams”

  1. LOVE this, Barbara! I love that you’re disciplined (my definition of discipline = remembering what you want). And you’re right: dailiness is the key. Dailiness is alchemy. Dailiness is how art happens. So many things I love about this post, so many thing have me nodding in agreement. Like the more you do, the more you want to do. And the spiraling effect – that’s how I find I create, too. And your analogy of creativity to a muscle – YES! I love that you listen to your inner artist, and that your inner artist is gaining visibility. And your recognition that you have to do the work to make your dream happen, and your acknowledgement that it’s perfectly fine to make it easier on yourself by showing your self compassion and encouragement and kindness. And most especially, I love that you detoured from your educational path into the artist path – and you did it with laying a foundation of knowledge and information and training, then struck out and began blazing your own unique, creative path. Bravo, my friend!

    1. Hi Jeanne, So glad this resonated with you, and that it made sense to you — my goal was to share some helpful signposts in the hopes they would spark for creatives wherever we find ourselves on the path. Would that I had figured this out sooner — more decades sooner than I care to admit. But, live and learn, I guess. Which, by the way, is sort of my motto: Keep learning or die. Thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and appreciative comment! 😉

  2. Oh, Barbara, this reaches in and touches my soul! While reading your incredibly inspirational and hope-filled article, I’m chastising myself for all the times I’ve said, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” You’ve shown me that I’ve been looking for my creative side in all the wrong places! I love process. I need process. And you’ve just shown me the way! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

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