This is the second entry in a series on finding creativity, especially for those who believe they aren’t creative at all. In the first post, we defined creativity as “Applied Imagination.” Today, we’ll talk about the first condition of being creative: giving yourself a chance.

Just because I need to talk about “self” here, I don’t want you to think this is another one of those “self-help” advice pieces. I’ve had more exposure than I care to admit to the billion dollar self help industry and my experience is that most self help advice is a form of reminding you of stuff you should already know based on the unlikely combination of pop psychology, eastern religions, multi level marketing and the Little Engine That Could. Often, people pay a personal coach to nag them. That’s someone who has made a career choice to nag people (every Mom in the world is qualified for this job), or even better, they leverage their nagging by writing books and hosting expensive seminars. Nope: that’s NOT what I mean. (It’s not really self help if someone is telling you what to think, is it? That’s just “help”.)

When I talk about self in the context of creativity, it is simply about getting out of your own way and letting your imagination come out to play. This was easy when we were kids, we played all kinds of thing like store or war or anything else that let us live in the world of make believe. Some of us let that get squeezed out; we get very serious, grown up, and concerned with getting things very right. It’s tough to let your imagine run wild if you have locked it in a box called childhood.

We each have our own very private and individual imagination. And you can’t be creative, by definition, until you begin to pay attention to your imagination again. Once you have your brain engaged in the world of possibilities called “imagination”, you have to pay attention to a few more “Self” words, here they are quickly:

* Self-Esteem: you don’t have to go all New Age on us here and recite affirmations (“I’m good enough and Gosh Darnit people like me”), you just have to know that it is ok to listen to your soul, that your viewpoint matters and your imagination is just as awesome as Michelangelo, da Vinci or even Ryan Seacrest’s.

* Self-Confidence: It takes balls to voice a new idea. There is a risk people might laugh, they might scoff, they might ridicule. That’s probably when you know you have voiced something truly creative. Have a little faith; trust the voice inside you. This is no time to self edit or worry about your lack of talent or limitations, go with the supernatural force that is called “Inspiration.”

* Your Own Goals: Creativity requires some discipline, we’ll talk about this more when we get to the Action blog, but if you begin a creative project, begin with the end in mind, make a mock up of your final work, a fake book jacket, a pencil drawing of your painting; do something to remind you where you are headed.

* Self Expression: Creativity is about applying YOUR imagination, put your emotions, your history, your unique point of view into everything you create. This is about making your soul happy, not about pleasing someone else.

*Passion: Finally, you better care,and care deeply, about your work; that’s kind of the whole point. Don’t expect anyone else to get fired up about your work if you aren’t. Ghandi said “be the change you seek in the world,” and what better place to begin than with your own creative project.

Next time, we’ll talk about finding your creative outlet, your creative media, in the meantime: Go outside and play, even if you never leave your office chair!

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