Sneaky Ways Your Creative Desires Show Up
Over the years I’ve learned that often the big things we want to do or change show up in sneaky ways.
I’m talking things like:
creating your own show or project
shifting gears in your career and/or creative life in some way
saying no to something
ending something (a relationship, a job, creative collaboration)
getting coaching, training or counselling
changing some lifestyle habits
It’s no mystery that we are creatures of habit and like to do things that keep us comfortable and safe. Yay lizard brain! However I think we are also very curious, creative creatures who also want to grow and evolve and make an impact with our lives.
This tension between these two parts of ourselves can make things a bit confusing.
For the past 10 years I’ve gone through many big shifts - I’ve created multiple shows and performance pieces, I’ve performed with 4 different improv companies (one of which I started) and left when it was time, I’ve created and taught multiple courses, I’ve switched agents, I’ve switched therapists, I’ve ended and started new creative relationships, I’ve started a mastermind group, I’ve taken business courses, I’ve had many difficult conversations, I’ve reached out to mentors, I’ve decided to say no to most lower-budget work and only audition for roles that call to me, I’ve explored all kinds of performance training, I’ve moved from being primarily a commercial actor to auditioning for film and tv, I’ve become an early-morning person and someone who lifts heavy weights and long-distance runs.
Every single one of these shifts involved paying attention to sneaky clues in myself.Lizard Jen is a pretty powerful force, but when I tap into Creative Jen - she’s unstoppable.
If you are wondering how to tap into your creative self a bit more and get growing, here’s what to look for:
You’re pissed off.
Being pissed off is a big signal that something needs to change. For me it has often meant that it was time to speak up, set a boundary, ask for something I’m not getting, say no or stop doing whatever the thing is. Are you complaining about something, or getting frustrated a lot?
If you are pissed off about not getting an opportunity somewhere, it might mean you need to look for it elsewhere, or create your own opportunity.
If you are pissed off about a job or creative collaboration - it might be time to leave or have a tough conversation.
If you are pissed off about something in the world - this is likely a cause you are actually passionate about and is something to direct more energy and time toward. It could be fuel for a creative project.
If you are pissed off or notice yourself complaining or lashing out a lot in general, there may be some inner work and mindset shifts you need to work on.
You daydream regularly about the same thing.
This kind of daydreaming happens in the shower, while grocery shopping, on a run, or between wakefulness and sleep. If you catch yourself daydreaming often about something - from something small to something grandiose and impossible - this thing is important to you.
It could be about something you want to create, or someone you want to work with, or seeing a future version of yourself operating at a new level.
If this is happening - jot down your daydreams in a journal. See if you notice patterns or anything that stands out in the imagery.
Anxiety and rumination
If you are re-playing the same thoughts in your head and feeling anxious, this is a signal for a shift.
It could mean working on a mindset shift, some deep breathing or grounding work if you are catastrophizing a situation. (It likely means something in that situation is VERY important to you if lots of fear is showing up)
It could mean you need to get creative. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about in Big Magic how if we resist the urge to be creative, it can become self-destructive. I notice often if I wake up in the middle of the night or find myself really ruminating, I need to write or do some physical actor work to release some creative energy.
Resistance and apathy
If you notice yourself making excuses or “feeling nothing” toward something, YET you still keep thinking about the thing - this is a sign the thing is really important.
My biggest creative projects have involved this unusual feeling of apathy toward them. YET I think about them all the time.
Do you keep putting something off? Or using excuses like, “I don’t have enough time” or “I’m tired” or “It’s too much work to figure this out” or “when I finish X THEN I’ll do Y”? Or do you have just a general feeling of NOT wanting to do something that you know deep down you WANT to do?
This is the GOLD. This thing is likely something that will change your life and help you grow in the biggest way if you follow through.
Inner judgement & self doubt
“You’re not good enough to do this.” “Who do you think you are to think you can achieve that?” “You are too old to do this.” “You are never gonna make it.” “What are people going to think?”
Whatever those inner critics are directing those statements toward - that thing is important to you. You are probably getting really close to starting something new or have already started. Get started, keep going.
Think about something that could be someone else’s dream, but you KNOW you could care less about. Do any of those inner critic voices come up when you think about yourself doing that? Nope.
A little voice suggests something that surprises you.
Sometimes a small part of you suggests something that catches you off guard. And once it’s been said, you can’t stop wondering about it. You might even try to ignore it, but you can’t.
This is your intuition and inner wisdom talking.
My little intuitive voice often suggests that I do things that seem at the time to be very surprising or seemingly ridiculous. It is usually something that doesn’t fit into my current life plan or way of doing things.
But cut to 6 months-2 years later, and I’m doing it and WAY happier.
This might feel like you are being called to do something. Or feel like you’ve gotta start or end something that is really going to change things drastically. Or it can feel like an “ah ha” type moment.
A shit ton of fear
A lot of the above signals are really fear in disguise. But sometimes you just feel outright fear toward something.
Whatever that thing is - yup, you betcha. It’s super important to you. And the more fear, the better.
One of my favourite tools is from Stephen Pressfield, and it’s about using fear as a compass:
"Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
Whenever I am making a decision, or unsure of what to do next, I ask myself what I am most afraid of. Then I go do that thing. HAHAHAhahahahaaaaaa….
You wanna keep it a secret
You know you have a good idea/decision when you are hesitant to share about it.
If it’s an idea for a new creative project, definitely use caution with who you share it with. Pick your people wisely, because it’s important to protect your idea before it’s fully formed and you’ve taken action on it.
If you overshare, often the idea can fizzle into the place where ideas die. I’m not entirely certain why this is, but I think it may have something to do with the idea (and you) being too fragile at this stage and easily impressionable by others.
You feel freaking excited, inspired and joyful
Okay, this is probably obvious, and not “sneaky” at all. But I thought it was worth mentioning, because sometimes we forget about the obvious.
When you go through the thought experiment of doing/creating/ending/etc the thing you are thinking about - you notice an expansive feeling in your body.
Really give yourself time to think through the entire thing you want to do and imagine what your life would be like having done it. What new opportunities could there be as a result? What would you feel like? How would you show up in the world differently?
My bet is you’ll notice a lot of joy and excitement bubble up.
OK! If you made it this far, THANK YOU for reading! This was one of those ones that woke me up at 3:30 am and I had to write down for you.
I hope you found this helpful and that you feel more on your way to being creatively unstoppable!