The Other Side of forty creativity

If you’re alive, you’re a creative person ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

There is a faded water stained picture I have in my possession that I drew in 1978 (and yes I feel old when I realise that was 37 years ago!) It is of a group of women at the hairdresser…and I love it.  I love the the smiles on their faces, the detail of the salon, including some spiffy wigs for sale…just looking at it transports me back to being 8 years old and the feeling of joy and quiet satisfaction I felt when engaged in doing something I loved.

Now, I am under no illusions about my talents for drawing, and my woeful colouring in in this picture confirms my distinct lack of skills in this area. However, I love this drawing because it was probably the last time I created a piece of art and felt it was good enough. You see in my family (for better or worse), my younger sister was known as the ‘arty’ one, and I was considered the ‘brainy’ one. This may have been purely because I wore chunky tortoiseshell rimmed glasses as a kid in the seventies (before hipsters made them cool may I add) but regardless, these labels stuck for us both. I started to value my worth around being good academically at school, and viewed creativity and art as something my sister was good at and I was hopeless at.

And guess what? These self imposed labels stuck for YEARS. I completely stopped drawing (even though I used to love it) because I felt I was no good at it.

The amazing Elizabeth Gilbert (my literary girl crush) spoke about this recently, and shared the following, “All children naturally love to draw, but as time goes by, the talented and the gifted are singled out for specialness, and the rest of us put down our pencils, watercolors, and crayons forever — thereby losing a vital and exciting part of our creative interior lives.”

In other words, most of us stop drawing at a very specific point in our lives: the moment we were told (or decided for ourselves) that we weren’t good at it.

This was certainly true for me, and I can honestly say that I never attempted to draw again until a couple of years ago, when on the other side of forty, I started tentatively looking for the creative being I knew lurked deep within me. On a whim, I decided to enter an art supplies store (all the while feeling like a complete fraud) and hastily bought a sketchbook and drawing pencils. I left feeling strangely exhilarated, and as I hesitantly put my pencil to paper for the first time in so many years, I felt time stand still and once again entered that magical state known as creative flow.

Now, I’d love to say that I immediately created some amazing art (it was pretty crap actually!) but I didn’t care, I felt a long stifled feeling of creative life-force reappear, much like when I started writing again, or when I dance without abandon around my living room. These are feelings we must treasure throughout our lives, and not abandon to our long ago youth.

For as Elizabeth Gilbert so eloquently says in her latest book ‘Big Magic’, “A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner-continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you-is a fine art, in and of itself.”

I for one want to live my life like this, how about you?


bigmagic_gilbertI loved the book Big Magic so much, that I would love to GIVEAWAY a copy as it is truly a life changing read. Simply make sure you are subscribed to my newsletter (sign up in the green box above if you have not already), and comment below about your creative journey: Do you see yourself as creative? Did you give up being creative as a kid? How do you express yourself creatively? 

I will randomly choose a winner and announce on Facebook, Instagram, and my newsletter by Wednesday 18 November. GOOD LUCK!