I'm back with a post as part of my writers' group August blog chain challenge and, this month, the topic put to us was a question - Why is it important to be creative?
At first glance, the question appears fairly easy to answer doesn't it.
However, I struggled to come up with an adequate answer and, for the longest time, I couldn't figure out why. It eventually struck me that I was trying to answer the question by looking outward - as though trying to impart reasons why anyone should be creative. But, that's the wrong way to tackle it. Creativity is a very personal thing and it can take so many different forms. The relationship one has with creativity is unique. It goes then, that any consideration of its importance requires that one look inward, rather than outward. So why is creativity important to me?
My love of writing began at an early age. I've often said my Grade 3 primary school teacher, Mrs. Furnell, was the individual who unlocked my creative streak during the creative writing sessions she used to run in class. Ever since then, my desire to create, to tell stories has been insatiable. It has become as much a part of me as breathing or walking.
As a Registered Nurse, having practiced for over 20 years in many clinical areas, I have been witness to the extremes of the human condition. A lot of these experiences have been positive - like Nursing newborns who need just a little bit of help at the beginning of their lives or Nursing various bumps and scrapes children have sustained on the sporting field or in the back yard. Things that can be fixed relatively easily. Through the tears and the worry of the patient and their family, there are often smiles and laughter and comradeship. Plenty can be fixed with a Zooper Dooper icy pole.
There have been a lot of other experiences though - like being present at traumatic presentations in the ED, like motor vehicle accidents, violent assaults - sometimes involving weapons, drug overdoses. Or in the ICU - Nursing complex disease processes, the extension of those ED presentations, children who have acquired virulent illnesses like meningococcal sespsis or have been diagnosed with cancer. Many of these cases survive and recover. Many of them do not. There have been catastrophic outcomes. There has been death.
These experiences imprint on you and they do affect you.
Creativity in the form of writing has been a means to decompress, to escape the accumulated muck of that side of my life and engage with an art that is completely separate. Sometimes, I have written down vestiges of those clinical experiences simply as a means of trying to make sense of them, to remove their subjective effects from my mind and see them as objective experiences, which I can address, deconstruct and move on from. Sometimes, those experiences have found their way into my writing, which has been therapeutic in itself.
It's ironic isn't it. I've credited my Nursing as being an influence on my writing for this reason, but also because of the structure Nursing requires to practice effectively. Nursing involves an adherence to inquiry, to diagnosing, problem solving and crafting solutions. These tools are invaluable to me as writer as I sculpt stories using them in much the same way. So, while I write and create as a way to separate myself from my Nursing, my Nursing inevitably creeps across the fence.
Creativity is an antidote for a restless mind. I have a mind that is constantly working. I find it difficult to switch off. The world around me is such a vivid place and I often take in everything. I work it over, consider objects, smells, tastes, experiences. I ask myself questions, analyze, ponder. The noise in my head can, sometimes be deafening and it can be distressing.
Writing is a means for me to unpack my mind and get things out so that I can become an observer of ideas, rather than a participant in them - does that make sense? Having a creative process, a method if you will, that is structured and coherent allows me to work ideas into a pre-existing project or catalog them for a future one. I've come to regard even the most disparate ideas as valuable. They are as tangible to me as a flower or a leaf, a Star Wars figurine or a piece of fruit.
Creativity, for me, is a means of maintaining mental well being as much as it is a satisfying pursuit of story telling.
I'm sure I could explore other reasons why it is important, for me, to be creative but I think these two top the list. They represent the two greatest influences on me as a writer and also as a person.
So, what about you? Why is it important for you to be creative? Let me know in the comments.