Welcome back to Fun & Games! By now, you’ve probably realized that this part of the creative journey is all about exploration and delight. It’s a time to try out the new creative superpowers you discovered in yourself, and to test the limits of what they can do. If your life were a superhero movie, it would be time to cue up the music for an action montage. Fly, leap, test your strength! Take your gifts for a spin, and let’s see what they can do!
I have a word of warning before you start out, though. To be more precise, I have a word to warn you about. It’s a simple word, even common, and it may seem innocuous enough at first glance. Be careful of it, however, because it has the power to strip all the joy from your creative Fun & Games. What’s this dangerous phrase, you ask?
That’s right, I said, “should.” Filled with obligations and perceived duties, should stands in polar opposition to the Fun & Games process. It clings like a wet blanket, weighing down your leaps and grounding your test flights. Should tells you that your creative play needs a purpose before it can be allowed, and reminds you of all the things you must do to make your new creative gifts into something acceptable. You should practice more. You should be more orderly in your work. You should be further along by now. It drowns out your excitement with a moaning laundry list of all the obligations, duties, and expectations that await in your creative future.
Don’t listen to him!!!!!!!
While duty can be a good thing, and some obligations must be met, they have no place in the Fun & Games process. Your creative superpowers are babies, fresh hatchlings whose only obligation is to grow and learn. The best way to grow and learn is to play. Your sole job in this process is to try out new things, test your skills, and discover how your powers work for you. The only way to do this is to refuse to listen when Should tries to lure in with his lies.
Emily and I have a phrase we use to snap ourselves out whenever we feel Should’s wet blanket weighing down our creative discoveries. It goes like this: “Don’t should on yourself.” It’s ok, you can chuckle when you say it. That’s the point. When Should and his obligation list become something to laugh at, they lose the power to crush us under their depressing weight. Creativity thrives in freedom and joy, and those are best cultivated in a “should-free” environment.
So, go ahead: be creative! Run wild and have fun with your new creative powers. And when Should creeps up to rain on your parade, just smile and send the little you-know-what right back where he came from.
Where are you “shoulding” on your creative play? Make a list of the fun, creative things you want to do but aren’t doing. Why aren’t you doing them? Pay attention to reasons that involve obligations, self-imposed limitations, or things you think you “should” be doing. If you find those, ask yourself, “What can I do to stop shoulding on myself in this area? How can I make this fun?” Pick at least one creative thing, and do it for the joy of it this week.
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!