Permission to Create

When I was in elementary school, we used to have these projects where we were given these blank books. Completely white cover with completely blank, white paper. If I remember correctly, we called them Bare Books.Β I’m not completely sure on the name, but I do know that when it was that time of the school year, all the students would get SO excited. We filled them with stories, pictures, answers to questionnaires our teachers gave us, and whatever else our heart desired.

I was always a horrible artist. I could draw a mean stick figure and a pretty awesome tree with a sun, but that was the extent of my art skills in elementary school. (Who am I kidding? That’s still about all I can do!) However, we were always tasked with designing the cover of those books along with filling them out. I’m pretty sure I remember one year I drew a stick figure girl who was supposed to be me with a giant rainbow. Did it have anything to do with the stories inside? Nope. I just liked drawing rainbows and coloring with all of the markers.

Anyway, I started to remember those books while I was at a bookstore recently. I thought about how much I looked forward to writing in those books. I loved creating stories, characters, lands, scenarios, everything. I loved it.

Then, I got sad because I remembered how much school ruined reading and writing for me. Reading became something I sped through so I could take the Accelerated Reading test and get the most AR points. Writing became a chore because in Texas, you have to take these standardized tests at the end of the year to determine if you pass that grade or not. If your writing didn’t fit perfectly into their cookie-cutter mold of what a “successful paper” would be, then you failed the writing test.

I could go on a whole entire rant about how much I hate standardized tests and how absolutely horrible they are for students, but that’s another topic for another time. What I would like to talk about is how to get that passion back. How to not look at your writing, your artwork, or whatever your creative passion is with such a critical eye. How do you give yourself the freedom to create without limitation?

I’m constantly looking at my blog posts, my short stories, and wondering, “Oh wait, am I making grammatical sense? Did I use the correct punctuation? Am I using enough adjectives?” I think, in my mind, it’s because I’m so used to a “good paper” being something that checks all of these things off on a list. My work isn’t valid unless it meets specific criteria that someone somewhere deemed determinate of good work.

This is where I have to remind myself that creativity should not be measured. You should never compare your creative self to that of another. That would be like picking up a paintbrush and giving up because your art doesn’t look like Monet’s or sitting at the piano and comparing yourself to Bach. It can’t be done. It shouldn’t be done.

Not everything is black and white. Not everything can be measured and I’m sick of people calling creative work “good” or not. Something being “good” is so relative that it can’t be measured by any scale, list, or table. Never create anything with the goal of people calling it “good.” You’ll never be satisfied.

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So, the next time you want to sing a song, write a book, or create something from your heart, give yourself permission to do so with no hesitations and without apologies.

Until next time ❀

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My Inspirations

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that this past weekend, I was able to see an old college friend of mine in a show here in Texas.

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Joseph was always an amazingly talented performer and we all knew he would go far and be successful. He’s now moved to New York City to become a working actor and I could not be more proud.

Feel free to read my original Instagram post here where I gushed about Joseph, but I wanted to talk a little bit today about inspiration. I use this term a lot as I work in the creative industry of Theatre, and it’s also a term I tend to struggle with. There are days where I find myself confusing inspiration with motivation. To me, inspiration is more passive, internal; while motivation is more active and creates physical results. However, I’m starting to realize that that’s not necessarily true for either!

I can find inspiration in a song, a piece of artwork, or a play. Those types of inspiration are fairly typical and common. Going to a museum or listening to a complex, beautiful piece of classical music can very easily inspire people. However, as I grow older, I seem to be finding inspiration more so in people – particularly the people I have in my life.

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When I see my friends and loved ones doing well, being happy, the feeling that overcomes me is almost indescribable. I felt myself beaming with pride and enjoyment for almost the entire play as Joseph worked his magic on stage. He was electric, magnetic, and an absolutely delight. I thought to myself, “He and I started in the same spot. We both went through the same programΒ and received the same degree. Look where he is now!” He inspired and motivated me to work hard and make it my goal to be in a place where I can say that I am doing what I love for my job.

My Theatre friends are not the only friends who inspire me. I have a friend who rescues dogs, one who volunteers for countless charities and special events, and even one who has battled multiple diseases only to crush every single one of them. How great is it to have happy, successful friends? I am so proud to know these people and if ever I feel down, I always want to remember, anything is possible with enough hard work and dedication.

What inspires you? Where do you look when you need a motivational pick-me-up? I’d love to hear your answers.

Until next time! ❀