Feeling Creativity by Sarah Bryan

The more you feel, the more you will create.

— Ray Hughes

I came across this quote during my lunch break today. I was sitting in my car, listening to a podcast as I ate my sandwich, and certainly not expecting a philosophical challenge. Yet challenged I was. I’d been struggling to find ways to nurture my creativity -- could this be a key to what I was seeking? This was something to ponder further, and I chased it like Alice after the White Rabbit. . .

Feeling equals creativity. Creativity requires feeling. The equation seems so simple, but does it work in my life? If I’m not seeing an increase of creativity in my life, then perhaps the lack stems not from a lack of ideas but from a lack of feeling? That thought rang like a gong inside me, full of truth that I’d been reluctant to face: if I want more creativity in my life, then I must be willing to open myself up to more feeling in my life.

Down the rabbit hole I tumbled. Am I simply turned off to my feelings? No, I’m not an automaton or a Vulcan (despite my strong love of logical thought). I do feel, and I work to not ignore those feelings. I journal and sort and process my feelings as a matter of daily practice. Why then, do I still find myself disconnected from these feelings that are so important to my creativity? If I’m not ignoring my feelings, what is it that keeps me from being moved by them?

Here I find a rather uncomfortable truth about myself: I like to process my feelings more than I like to feel them. What do I mean by this? In my desire for a logical, ordered experience with my life, I’ve become focused on “dealing” with my feelings. I examine them, categorize them, sort them, understand them, and quantify them. I search for words with which to define them, thereby shrinking them into something I can contain. In short, I don’t feel my feelings so much as I herd them into place inside myself. 

To be fair, my processing isn’t always a bad thing; it’s a practice that’s helped me cope with more than one difficult point in my life. The challenge, however, is to balance my emotional stability’s need to process with my creativity’s need to experience. Sometimes, the act of sorting and understanding strips the feeling of its power to move and to inspire, taking the sublime and reducing it to the mundane. There are moments, perhaps more than I realize, that are made for pure feeling alone. These moments of mute, stirring wonder can’t be rendered in words and qualified in simple terms. They run deep into my core, defying me to categorize them with convenient definitions.

It’s these indefinable emotions that fuel creativity, because they cry for an expression that goes beyond simple terms. Watching the morning sun rise over a mist-shrouded lake stirs more than I can put into words; I must capture it with color and texture. Listening to a brilliant song stirs more than my mind;  it sparks feeling that won’t rest until it finds its way out through my limbs as dance. Yes, I could process these feelings into some level of emotional insight, but my efforts would produce a thought that lives for only a few moments in time. If I let myself experience the feeling stirring inside until that feeling leads to expression, then - oh, then! - I can begin to create something that will keep expressing on into time. Examination allows me to know a portion, but experience allows me to become part of something bigger than just me.

Next time you feel some new emotion stirring inside you, take a moment or two to just feel before you begin to process. Let the inarticulate wonder of the moment steep inside you until it works itself out as a unique expression. You may be surprised by what you find.


Sarah is the co-founder of Bright Ideas, a designer by trade, and an artist by passionate choice. She was born and raised in South, and delights in sharing Southern culture with anyone who cares to learn. Sarah collects creative hobbies; when she isn’t making art, you can usually find her on the dance floor. Follow her creative adventures on Instagram and Twitter!