Exploring your creative garden can be a challenging, surprising process of self-discovery. You have given yourself permission, and stepped in the Discovery process. You may have ideas about what you will find, assumptions that you’ve developed through your backstory, culture, and personal experiences. You walk through the gates, armed with all you think you know about yourself. What awaits you, however, is often quite different than you imagined.
Wonder of wonders, the small plot of your imagining is bigger than you could have dreamed! You may have pictured an herb bed, perhaps even a rose trellis or two. Little did you know that there lurked inside you a vast, undiscovered country of creative giftings. Hedge mazes, orchards, hot houses, and arboreal forests abound. Strange plants of all varieties challenge your notions about your creativity and potential. Some are lovely, but some look more like weeds than lovely flowers.
How do you deal with the shock of finding that your creative garden contains more variety and abundance than you thought was possible? Before you can sort and cultivate these just-discovered plants, you have to learn about them. This is step two in the Discovery process: Self-Investigation. It’s a time to examine, observe, and and study your new surroundings, like an explorer cataloging discoveries in an unexplored land.
Self-Investigation is a time to try your new gifts and discover how they work. Ask yourself questions like: How do I most like to spend my time? What creative actions make me feel alive or inspired? How do I like to work? What modes of creative expression do I most enjoy using? Take notes about the things you Discover as you explore your garden.
Don’t worry about achieving specific goals in the Self-Investigation process. This time is about observing, not producing. There will be plenty of time along the way to produce all manner of things with these new gifts, but you can produce anything if you don’t take to time for Discovery and understanding. It’s also tempting to make the Discovery process unearth the skill or talent that you think is most appealing or acceptable. You may long to find a talent for music, but your discovery process reveals that your true gifts lie in poetry. The goal in Self-Investigation is to be inquisitive and hands on, without succumbing to the temptation to manipulate the process to a specific outcome. Do not be deterred if your gifts seem like disappointments at first. What appears to be a weed at first glance may become your garden’s greatest prize in time.
Start a Discovery Journal. Grab a notebook or journal (pick out something you really like; this will make you more apt to use it), and start asking yourself some of the Self-Investigation questions listed above. Pay attention to your tastes, preferences, and interests. Note the things that you find, and look for trends in the process. This will help point to out some of your true creative gifts.
Feel free to share your discoveries with us in the comments below, or through social media! Use the hashtag #mydiscoverystory so we can follow along!
Sarah is the co-founder of Bright Ideas, a designer by trade, and an artist by passionate choice. She was born and raised in the South, and delights in sharing Southern culture with anyone who cares to learn. Sarah collects creative outlets; when she isn’t making art or writing, you can usually find her on the dance floor. Follow her creative adventures on Instagram and Twitter!