How many times does an idea flash in your mind, and you instantly say, “No way” or “Nahhh”? How often do you ignore, dismiss or reject different creative urges, the urges that say, “I wonder what would happen if…” “Why don’t I try…” “Wouldn’t it be fun to…” “What if…” “Hmmm, that seems pretty interesting…”?
Maybe you call your random creative urges and ideas stupid. Maybe you call yourself stupid, too. Maybe you think these ideas, these urges aren’t worth your time. After all, you’ve got better things to do, like tending to chores and other responsibilities.
And yet the above phrases—the I wonders, the what-ifs—are the seeds of creativity. And yet we automatically discard them.
As Stephanie Medford said, “We all have creative ideas and impulses, but a lot of the time our tendency is to judge them and shut them down before we give them a chance to bloom.” Medford is an artist, writer and teacher with a mission to help people who have lost touch with their creativity find their way back to their creative selves.
Medford encourages readers to pick a time period, such as a specific day or an entire week, and commit to saying yes to all of our creative impulses, no matter how silly or pointless they seem. It’s OK if your idea seems fruitless from the start. It’s OK if it won’t go anywhere. It’s OK if you’re pursuing it purely because you’re intrigued. It’s OK if it doesn’t even make sense.
Give yourself permission to dream and play. Give yourself permission to get lost, to roam inside your own imagination. Because that’s what creativity is all about. And sometimes those silly, stupid ideas lead to sweet surprises.
Medford shared this example from the other day: “I felt compelled to take a series of pictures of the imprints left by leaves when our sidewalks were made last fall. I didn’t have a good reason, or any idea of what I would do with the photos. But I said yes and followed my inspiration and ended up getting an idea for a series of collages.”
Maybe you feel compelled to sketch faces, which you haven’t done since you were 10 years old. Maybe you feel compelled to learn about snails. (Yes, snails.) Maybe you feel compelled to collect different natural materials, such as stones, sticks, seashells, pine cones and leaves, but you have no idea what for.
Maybe you feel compelled to read old children’s books. Maybe you feel compelled to start a story about a mysterious protagonist named Simon. Maybe you feel compelled to take a photography or pottery or writing or crocheting or acting or dance class. Maybe you feel compelled to start piano lessons.
Even if your ideas and impulses lead to absolutely nothing, you’ve still done an important thing: You’ve listened to yourself. You’ve acknowledged the whispers of your sense of wonder, the inklings of your imagination. You’ve honored your adventurous side, your inner child. And that is no small gesture. That is a powerful way to take compassionate care of yourself.