What Do You Believe About Yourself? It May Affect Your Creativity

What Do You Believe About Yourself? It May Affect Your Creativity

Lucy Maud Montgomery, 1884 (age 10)
Lucy Maud Montgomery, 1884 (age 10) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I did a few comedy improv workshops once for troubled teens in a local high school. Most of the scenes were about sex, so I urged the students to try something else. A young man spoke up.

“You know we’re teens, right?”

That young man illustrated for me what many people believe: the stereotype they accept for themselves (“teens think only about sex”) also includes a belief about creativity (“therefore we can’t think of anything else”).

When I was young, I actually believed that creativity = good writing. I didn’t realize that practice and learning = good writing. By the time I got to university, I’d stopped writing fiction, because I couldn’t remember anyone (except my parents) saying I could write well.

It’s amazing how 16 years, two kids, and a daytime job improve your self-esteem. I’ve allowed myself to write fiction again.

I didn’t do it by setting aside “me time” at the computer, where I’d spend two hours completely immersed in my writing. I did it the old-fashioned way: the notebook beside the bed. (I believe L.M. Montgomery did this, though I’m sure many other writers did and do, too.) If I had the urge to write in the morning or before bed, I wrote, usually about ten minutes or so, and then went on with my day.

I ended up writing a few kids’ stories and sharing one with my little ones. They loved it, by the way, and it’s sparked a new bedtime routine for us: practicing creativity by writing a kids’ story together.

What if they hadn’t liked it? I would’ve been ecstatic with the small step that I’d at least written something. Then I would’ve tried to figure out why they didn’t like it, and I would’ve tried again.

But first thing’s first: break out of your self-defined stereotype, and create.

6 thoughts on “What Do You Believe About Yourself? It May Affect Your Creativity

  1. Excellent observation. You make a great point, we shouldn’t ignore or fix our notions about the aspects of ourselves that fuel and drive us as writers.

    When I was younger I believed (extreme emotion and complex words) = good writing. I laugh at and edit my old work in a loving way now ^__^

    Great article.

    1. Thanks, Nathan. Most of my “(extreme emotion and complex words)=good writing” was thankfully in personal correspondence, so it didn’t have much of an audience, though I may have annoyed a few people 🙂

  2. Funny you mention LM Montgomery, Lori. When I was around 10, I was reading Anne of Green Gables in the back seat of the car on the way to spend the summer in PEI where my father was working. I decided if Anne could be a writer, so could I, and started writing. Somewhere along the way, someone laughed at me…and it took me about 35 years to get back to what I should have been doing all along. I tell that story to students now when I speak to them.

    1. I don’t think we should entirely discount the paths our insecurities take us on. After all, they give us fodder for later stories 🙂 I’d just rather be my age now than in my 90s before figuring this whole thing out.

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