“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”

– Erich Fromm

Oh the irony. I want to write about creativity and I’m finding it hard to know what to say. Maybe it’s that for me the creative process is very instinctual and automatic. I like having a pile of materials in front of me or a blank page and I just let my hands move. I like listening to music and moving without prescribed steps. I’m writing now in a flow and not stopping to think too much about what’s coming out, but if I sit down to plan a post I often find myself stuck. It feels like work, when the flow state of writing feels… basically as good as it gets.

I just got back from a conference about creativity and play in learning and libraries and I think I’m not alone in feeling like it was a transformative experience. I want to blog about it but not the way I usually blog about work conferences and courses in terms of who spoke, what they talked about and so forth. I just want to try to recapture something of the feeling I left with, holding my head high like an archetype of quiet power.


Something about having the space to be creative, being told it’s okay to fail, to get things wrong, to be MESSY, was just what I needed at this time in my life when I was already poised and ready to let go of striving for perfectionism. I wish I could come up with a word or phrase to encapsulate this, like a mantra or touchstone that could bring me back when I eventually lose this feeling but that’s not how it works. I don’t even know what changes I might make as a result. I just know that some perception of my capability has shifted. How can I put it..?

At the end of the conference, we wrote postcards to ourselves from the conference. Here’s what mine said:

You’re a creative person. Do more of that. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look like what anyone else is doing. It’s authentically you.

I think that’s the key – I always want so much to be liked that it’s as if I’m hiding from disapproval by lurking inside someone else’s outline instead of taking up my own space. The work we have to do on this planet requires that we each bring our unique strengths to the greater good. However, I’ve spent a long time feeling like creativity couldn’t be one of my strengths because I lacked the natural talent at any particular art form to make it worthwhile, not realising that it’s the quality of thought that makes creativity valuable, not just the technical skill to realise it. Nor is creativity about feeling pressure to constantly innovate. Maybe to satisfy my creativity I just need to approach every day as a blank canvas on which I can improvise and see what comes out, not afraid of disapproval, not afraid of the mess, not afraid to fall.

Sketch notes from the conference


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