6 Keys to Walking the Creative Path ~ Overcoming the Illusion of Perfection

6 Keys to Walking the Creative Path ~ Overcoming the Illusion of Perfection

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun.” ~ Mary Lou Cook

There are many excuses, or stories, we use to postpone what wants to emerge from us and take shape in the world: my creative offerings need to look / sound a certain way; people need to like them, like me; no one will purchase any; I can’t make a living from it; I don’t have time; I need to study more; my offerings need to create aha moments, invite transformation; they need to change the world! They need to be perfect!

Because so many of us have drown our creative instincts in self-judgment, it can take a great deal of self-awareness to recognize our limiting stories; and it can take tremendous courage and will to bypass them—to step into the fire of creativity, and shine brightly in the world. It can be highly vulnerable to do so. For many, the perceived pain from possible rejection may be stronger than the continuous pain of not trying at all. This may be especially true for those who, when young, experienced a great deal of criticism for their natural self-expression. So, as a result, we stay hidden behind the illusion of perfection—that perfect creation, that perfect situation, that perfect moment in the future—in order to avoid more hurt; to avoid the unknown. Or, we just dim our fire altogether and act like it doesn’t exist.

If we are to give birth to something new in the world we must experience the creative fire as being stronger than the fears that hold it back. It is then easier to take the risk to no longer live in the shadows, the risk to be consumed by the wild fire within, so we may find greater joy and meaning in this life. Only then can we really serve. Only by coming to the edge of our cave of comfort and walking into the great unknown of the creative path can we find our purpose for being here, and can we lead others into the brightness of their own fires and lives.

Ultimately, it is the creative fire emanating from your heart that lights up the path you seek.

Here are 6 keys to walking the creative path. I hope they help you to leap into the fire and bring your gifts to life!

1. One step at a time:

Take one step at a time into the unknown of the creative path, one bold move after another, expressing yourself into the world. Creativity is not expressed in batches, but one stroke, one note, one pluck at a time. It is only by giving ourselves over to those simple moments in full that the unexpected emerges—not by trying to figure out the whole picture in advance, but by giving in, by surrendering to the emergence of the heated wild flames within, bit by bit. As we do, the greater picture, the map, revels itself in a way that we could not have conjured.

2. Do it poorly:

“If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly.” ~ Marshall Rosenberg, Founder, Nonviolent Communication

Create unpolished videos, write watered-down blogs, paint mediocre paintings, make elemental websites, sing and record out-of-tune songs. Lower your standards of excellence. Start from the talent level that you have. Trust that it is only through practice—trial and error, guessing and testing, getting messy—that you will refine your craft. Looking back now, I cannot help but smile at where I started. My writing, newsletters, playshops, singing and more were pail comparisons of what they are today. But I started. I threw myself out there knowing that I had something to share. And as I continued practicing, my creativity matured. I learned on the fly.

3. Find your creativity in motion:

Creativity happens when we are moving – our hands, our feet, our entire body. Insight meets us halfway if we open our body to it, if we lean into the process. Begin with something – a doodle of some sort. Strum a few chords, write a few words, dance a few steps. Be willing to keep moving into the unknown, forgoing the need for anything to nicely take shape or make sense. Just keep moving. Let the movement unlock the magic. Let your doodling unlock the dream. Keep strumming those chords that aren’t quite forming a song. Keep writing those words despite the fog. Keep dancing those steps despite your stumbles. Keep your pick, pen and feet moving! Suspend the critical mind, the need for things to make sense, to look a certain way, to go somewhere. And just go with whatever is arising, moment-to-moment, with the spirit of the curious child. Notice the detours and go with them. Where are your feet taking you now? Watch like a spectator how your creativity is magically unfolding before you, perhaps not as you expected it to. Stay in uncertainty. You may be surprised where your “unproductive” groping leads you. Your mindless doodling may just lead to your greatest hit. The shaken words may lead to your most reverent poem. The formless dance may shape into wondrous form. Or it may all just lead you no where.

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” ~ Erich Fromme

4. First create for yourself:

Last summer I heard a band play at the Vancouver Folk Festival. One of its members shared how he, the lead songwriter for the group, tried for several years to write what he thought the public wanted to hear. But the group still toiled, unable to make a living from their craft. One day he finally decided to write for himself—to pen the music that spoke from his heart, and for the sake of joy. The songs began to take off, and it wasn’t long before the band won their first Juno (Canadian equivalent of a Grammy). Let your heart or inner child be your muse, not your thoughts of what you think you should do. Enjoying the process is vital for stoking the creative fire.

5. Trust the subtle impact:

Many years ago I let go of the idea that my keynotes and playshops needed to transform people’s lives. I had this naïve idea that my participants needed to experience large resonant aha’s; that their inner transformation was the true measure of my success. I believed this until someone offered me this perspective: when a ship changes compass direction by only 2 degrees, it reaches a brand new continent. From that point on, I let go of my lofty expectations. I humbled. I learned to trust those slight shifts in the room. I gave myself permission not to do it all. And I created more space to enjoy the ride!

6. Abandon it:

“Art is never completed, only abandoned.” ~ Unknown

I remind myself that art is never completed, only abandoned, regularly. When creating video content, or writing songs, articles, books and poetry it is easy for me to refine and refine, to continue to find something more to change, to craft that perfect piece. Yet through experience, I’ve learned to catch myself, and give way to the imperfectionist in me; to make it okay to throw my creation to the wind despite being unsure of its completion, trusting that it’s good enough. I’ve come to understand that art can never truly be completed. There is no perfect place to get to. There will always be more.

I wish you joy and patience in your walk along the creative path!

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Check out Vince’s book: Let the Fire Burn ~ Nurturing the Creative Spirit of Children, A Children’s Book for Adults


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