At the moment I'm reading one of the most hyped creativity books of recent times: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. And one of the ideas that's explored quite early on in the book is an idea you'll find in many other books of this ilk from Julia Cameron to Austin Kleon; the idea that you can be both a perfectly normal, functional human and creative. In fact it's encouraged.
Many people have this idea about "what creative people are like". They might be moody unstable types; mad people who sacrifice everything and cut their ties to move to Hollywood and pursue their dream. But you'll be happy to know that not only are emotional problems, moving overseas and quitting your day job not necessary to have a creative life, it's also not recommended. Too often we fill our lives with "drama" thinking it will give us inspiration or give us a story to tell, when in actual fact this is often an avoidance strategy, and the drama and overwhelm stops us from developing our inner artist and getting to work in the first place!
In Hugh MacLeod's book about cultivating creativity, Ignore Everyone, a chapter titled "Keep Your Day Job" discusses the theory that even a "creative life" will always have a divide between the boring, necessary parts (often the ones that make money or give you day-to-day stability), and the creative, inspirational parts. And this is unavoidable - equally for hobbyists as it is for those who seem to have it all together; those who have "made it". He says nobody is immune. There will always be a "day job"...
"One year John Travolta will be in an ultrahip flick like Pulp Fiction, another he'll be in some forgettable, big-budget thriller like Broken Arrow."
He explains that the people who move ahead fastest with their creativity are those who accept this fully; that being creative doesn't mean being madly inspiring all the time, or never doing boring stuff. It might just mean making a little more time for the things that you love!
So how do you become a normal creative person? It can start with a pretty simple and well-known exercise.
1. Make a list of activities that make you happy.
2. Do these things more often.
That's seriously it. You're allowed to try winning a Grammy if that's really what you want, but if the only thing you have to show for your creative endeavours is joy, then know THAT'S ENOUGH. You don't need a certificate to get started. You don't even have to think you're any good! As Martha Graham says:
And the funny thing is that when you follow your interests and make time for the things that make you happy (no matter how strange or self-indulgent this may seem to anyone else), your life does start to take on a little bit of the extraordinary. All of the knowledge and depth of character that you foster when allowing yourself to pursue your passions, enthusiasms and curiosities, will reveal to you an experience of life that truly is far more enchanting than perhaps you'd imagined for yourself. Far more captivating even than a move to Hollywood. Something far more balanced, authentic and truly beautiful.