Writers Retreats and Brené Brown
15th October 2016
Make space for creativity in your life.
It’s the morning after the weekend before. I hosted a group of interesting and generous writers chez Barry Towers this weekend for a fab weekend residential writers’ retreat. We wrote, ate baked goods and drank coffee. Then we drank cocktails.
It was a creatively uplifting weekend; can’t wait for the next one. The stimulating conversations we had, paired with the moments of quiet time for focused work, reminded me of the importance of making space for creativity in our lives. This morning I am drinking more of that electric coffee and thinking about something Brené Brown said:
If you’d asked me five years ago what creativity meant to me I would say: ‘that’s cute, that’s fun. I don’t really do any A-R-T ‘cos I’ve got a J-O-B. You go and take your paintbrush or your scrap-booking and you have a great time but I gotta get shit done.
[Today she believes creativity is ] the way I share my soul with the world and without it I am not OK. And without having access to everyone else’s we are not OK. I have come to the conclusion that it is the only thing, the only unique contribution that we will make in this world will be born of creativity. Unused creativity is not benign.
– Brené Brown, researcher and storyteller
Bam! How powerful are those last 5 words? According to Brené, 85% of the men and woman that she interviewed recalled a school day event that was so shaming that it’s stayed with them into adulthood and fundamentally changed what they thought of themselves for the rest of their lives. 50% of that 85% – i.e. half of those people – those shame wounds were around creativity. The message they were given was that they couldn’t sing, draw, write etc.
For me, it was less about a significant single moment and more the explicit message from parents, teachers and society that artistic pursuit of any kind was not a serious path that would give me a good return on my academic investment once I hit the world of work. (Not true, as Derek Murphy points out here).
Each of us writers expressed self-doubt and anxiety about our talent at one point or another over the weekend. We all agreed, however, that the need to write is compulsive and when inspiration strikes, it has to make it from the head and onto the blank page. Or else we’d go barmy. Brown is right about unused creativity.
Do you think creativity is self-indulgent or something left behind in childhood? What small step can you take to fill your life with artistic expression today?