Self-Care for the Creative Soul
It is the inner need of all humans to make things, to create for themselves as well as the world. Many a client will say, “I’m tone deaf, I can’t sing, I can’t paint, I can’t write, I am not the creative type”, and it proves with some experience to be completely untrue. We are all meant to finger paint without judgement. Jackson Pollock’s therapist told him to start painting and see how that turned out for him.
Permission comes first from the Self. The voices outside in the community can wait. When talking about the artist, we are speaking of the poet, writer, painter, singer/songwriter, actor, director or sculptor, but this also refers to all of us with a creative soul. Someone who sets the dinner table like it is a magical story garden, makes a child’s party like a fantasy land, writes the most heartfelt letter with a feather pen, makes a collage for a loved one, or travels in a unique way, across the grass instead of the gravel or by rollerblades to work. These are all expressions of being a creative being.
The following are keys for every true artist and creative being in order to thrive and feel fully alive. Consider these some creative vows to live by.
Choose Creative People to Be Around
Don’t “defer your dreams” because you are around the wrong people. If you are lucky, you have a partner, parents, friends and perhaps a therapist who believe in your gifts even if you question them yourself.
Group portraits seen at Musée d’Orsay, in Paris, suggest the great impressionist artists came together as a kind of community, learning from one another. The pointillist dots of Georges Seurat were an influence for the strokes of Vincent van Gogh. Learning and sharing makes sense. The painting L’Atelier de Bazille (Bazille’s Studio), by Frederic Bazille (1870), shows many artists creating together: Frederic Bazille, Édouard Manet, and Edmond Maitre on piano.
The “lost generation” of artists hung around each other in Paris with creatives like Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso and James Joyce. The ideal company for a creative, they gained confidence and support from each other. Theatre companies, bands and individual artists all need the support of community that feels safe and less lonely.
Give Permission to Your Self
The world Self with a capital S means soul. Listen to your soul voice and allow yourself to play through the arts. If you are dying to write or learn to sing, or if you are a professional who is stuck with writer’s block or having trouble with your voice from singing too much, take action for yourself to get help, to put your vision into the world. What begins for ourselves often becomes something that others need to feel most.
Throughout history, creative individuals have frequently been the ones to save the day and speak up first. It often begins with you speaking up for yourself and following it with standing up for what others need. Listen to that little soul voice. Run inside.
Established musicians and artists often seek therapy because they may want confidence in their singing voice, or help with managers, band mates and relationships. It can be hard to ask for help with the stress of fame and the pressure on the voice. With therapy, one’s inner creativity can be addressed in safety and peace.
Seek the Right Place to Create
Creatives need to grow their expression by having ideal space for ideas to flow. Emerson said that creativity is making room for the unknown. These days it’s common that we fill up our space with “shoulds” and gadgets. But try the experience of a stress-free zone, a place only you know you go—a place you can improvise music being loud and free, whether an empty room, a special spot on the water or a booth in a coffee shop.
A songwriter client working for a relaxed company wrote lyrics all day while answering the phone. You make it work in the environmental choices that you are given. Many people produce well around others while some need total silence and solitude. The environment is unique to the individual. The necessary part is that it is chosen by you. It could be like Cinderella’s “own little corner”, but for your creative soul.
Keep the Rituals Simple
Get up at the same time, do some meditation and a little yoga/chanting to begin the day. For a few minutes, do the same thing and write three things you will create by the end of the day—anything you want to manifest. Set your writing, painting, songwriting, singing time in the day or night, as you prefer. Keep it the same if possible, even if short.
A wonderful writer, Jungian psychologist James Hollis was asked how he created his style of short, beautiful chapters. He said he only had between 8 and 9pm to write each night after seeing patients. Use the time you have. Try this for a while. Keep it simple: same foods, same exercise, same place, same time, a few outfits to choose from, so all you focus on is your creative work.
There is always something to creatively nurture, so allow as little distraction from the environment as possible. Belong to your vision.
Jump and the Net Will Appear
Try to create without thinking you have to learn how to be creative. How do we do that? Stop listening too much to others. Those that tell you there is one way are wrong and not the teachers for you.
A piano teacher harmed a child with judgment, causing her to give up classical piano; later, she became a songwriter and jazz artist so she could make it her own. A therapist can help heal this trauma so it does not affect current artistic expression. The creative process is not an exact science; it is magic. A creative arts therapist, such as a music therapist, art therapist, drama therapist, creative consultant or counselor for the arts, can help you find your own way, there to encourage you to do your own thing. You may need a writing class on songwriting theory, but the ideas come from you. Be in your “right mind”. Choose family and friends that see your dreams.
Do it your way. Walk in to the place that looks cool to you, get lost, throw water on your painting, make a mess, write with your non-dominant hand, improvise a song. Your creative Self is totally yours. Every successful artist can tell you how many times the book was rejected, the painting was ignored or the song did not sell, until it was read, seen and heard all over the world forevermore.
Leesa Sklover, PhD, LPC, MA-CMT, C-IAYT, Director Sklover LoveLife Productions LLC, professional singer/songwriter, actress, playwright and composer. She has been a licensed counselor,
creativity coach and certified music therapist, working with established performing artists. Offices in Glastonbury, Branford, Shelton, New York City and Los Angeles. Sklover works in person and via Skype. Connect at DrSklover@gmail.com, LoveLifeProductions.net or Soundcloud.com/LeesaSklover (music/podcast).