As a writer, being a creative person is a pretty big deal. We pride ourselves on how creative we are and yet there are times when we feel we just aren’t creative enough. It’s sort of a Ping-Pong match between the two. Some days it’s one, and a whole lot of other days, it’s the other. There have been quite a few times when I personally felt like I lost the game all together. Many times I found myself asking “Am I creative enough to be a writer?” or “What can I do to be more creative?”. In the end though, maybe it’s more of a question of how can we be the right amount of creative to accomplish our goals?
I want to tell you a story. Something that happened to me over the last few years that changed my life forever (causing me to abandon my blog for awhile too — sorry!) and made me see things in a little different light, especially concerning the way creativity works.
Once upon a time, I was a stay at home mom/wife who did a little editing on the side to help support our family of three. I also had a strong writing routine and a determination to make writing my career. It was a good life, especially during school days because my son would hop onto the bus and I would be home spending time on my writing or house chores or sometimes I just had time to myself. Then I had the brilliant idea of sending my son to a magnet school (advanced education system for those unfamiliar with what a magnet school is), because he was becoming increasingly bored and troublesome at school.
Well, it was about two months into the new school year at this awesome magnet school when I began to realize my brilliant idea wasn’t so awesome. Things went from bad to worse and still worse, until I was desperate to hire a tutor to help. It helped a little, and eventually he managed to adjust and wasn’t bringing home nasty notes from the teacher every single day, but we had to do a LOT of extra work at home to make up the difference. One day, I was asked to come to the school to discuss my son’s progress and I left the meeting fuming mad as I realized that it really wasn’t my son having trouble at school, it was the school system failing to understand my son and the way he learns. I knew in that moment my son would never receive an education he truly deserved by keeping him in school. So after a lot of soul searching, crying (yes, there were actual tears involved), and desperation to help my son not completely hate school and become so stressed he’d have to start taking copious amounts of medication, I decided to bring him home and teach him myself.
It was not an easy decision to make. I was not happy about it for me on a personal level, because I KNEW it would be the death of my writing. I felt certain that either I would get to where I would have no time to write, or I would lose my ability to find the creativity to be able to write. And I have to say, I was completely and utterly WRONG.
Homeschooling has been the best decision I have ever made. This is our second year doing it, and I can see us doing it for a long time to come. It has not only enhanced our family life in every way, but has completely turned around my son’s love of learning and stress levels, giving him the time and space he needs to learn at his pace. To see the change in him, has been absolutely awe-inspiring. He is not the same little boy he was when he was in the public school system, and that’s a very good thing. Even better than that… homeschooling has also broadened my creativity to such a degree that I can honestly say I’ve never been in a more creative time in my life than right now.
How did this happen? Well, one I think was because I opened myself up to a new and very scary experience, but an experience I knew would be beneficial in the long run for our family. And two, I quickly discovered that to be a really good and effective teacher to a person like my son, I had to be continually evolving and trying to see things from new perspectives and then figuring out how to teach in that perspective that was not natural to my own. Believe me, it’s been a challenge, but a rewarding one. Not only has my son responded positively, but he’s flourished in ways I never thought possible.
Now I have a son so excited about learning, he’s willing to skip school breaks and start school first thing in the morning. He’s volunteered (this is a boy who never volunteers anything unless it involves video games or candy) to come up with his own school schedule and assignments (with my help of course) based off all the eight major subjects he must study in school, but with his own little flare added in. He is constantly surprising me with the things he does all on his own and with extra school work I never asked him to do! This kid is on fire and he’s passing that fire to me.
I may not write as much as I used to (or do as many blog posts as I would like), but I still write. Better than that, I’m more confident about my writing. A lot of that confidence stems from how expansive my creativity has become, because I know that no matter how difficult a problem, how illusive my goal is, or how stubborn a story becomes, my writing will endure and even flourish, because I have the creativity to see it through.
Creativity isn’t just about the elements of the story. It’s also about how a story is written. It’s about being “creative” in finding the time to write. It’s about being flexible in our mind, action, and spirit. That is true creativity — the ability to be flexible and mold ourselves to different ideas and thoughts.
It’s out there waiting to be plucked from the air. Creativity resides in all of us in differing degrees. But it only blossoms and becomes bountiful when we actively create more opportunities to be creative. This is how it can truly be harnessed.
It’s not necessarily about writing more, because I was always under the impression that was how a writer became more creative — by simply writing more. And maybe there are those out there who do that and it works for them.
At this point in my life, I have come to realize that for me being more creative means branching out in all aspects of life — not just the creative parts. Be willing to take risks. Be willing to be open-minded and flexible. Be willing to listen to the world (and people) around us. I create more by doing more, by being more.
I still am that stay at home mom/wife, but now I am also a teacher. And when I get the chance in my crazy busy schedule, I write — however much or little that may be. It might not be as much as I used to write, but the quality is much higher and the ideas come a lot quicker. I don’t fret about the words anymore, they just come to me, and if they don’t come I move on to something else for awhile. Eventually, I find the words. I pluck them from the air. I make them part of me.
I have become a woman on fire. A woman who has become inspired by a son (who is more creative than I will ever be). Who has shown me that I can be creative too at any moment I choose. I don’t have to wait for it. It just comes, because I have created a way of living that generates it on its own. I don’t need to be more creative, I already am. Creative enough to write anything I desire and to turn my good life into a great life.