I have long acknowledged my need to be creative, to create, to express that part of myself through translating my inner world into a creation. I cannot imagine a life where this wouldn’t be a part of my day. But many people ‘lose’ this part of themselves after negative comments at school about a piece of work they’ve done, the routine and monotonous daily life that sometimes people fall into (often for many years) or maybe its not ever been valued so has never appeared in someone’s’ thinking. For many adults it’s a case of almost having to relearn how to express yourself creatively again. I say ‘again’ because as children, it is something we do very naturally.

So what is creativity? The dictionary says:


[kree-ey-tiv-i-tee] noun

1. the state or quality of being creative.

2. the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.

3. the process by which one utilizes creative ability: Extensive reading stimulated his creativity.

So how can we learn to express ourselves in this way?

  • Take a risk

Try something new and observe how it makes you feel. I have lots of channels for expressing my creativity and found a complete love of painting through Art Journaling – painting was one of those things I didn’t really let myself do before as I felt frightened about ‘getting it wrong’. Watercolours take that fear away because the opportunity is always there to start again; just add water!

  • Different things to try

My personal favourites are writing (of course) and photography, but I also like gardening and cooking. I loved learning Art Journaling! Combining paper, words and paint really appeals to me. This goes back to risk taking: if you don’t try, you won’t know whether you a) like it or b) are good at it.

  • Free Write

Using a blank piece of paper just write down words, any words that come into your head and then use those words to follow on to other words and then when you have enough words, write a poem or a short paragraph describing a character using as many of the words as possible.

  • Drawing an object

I’m not really one for drawing per se: it isn’t really my thing, but I enjoyed the process of just copying a piece of art in a museum and allowing myself to do that privately. Other options would be to find a landscape to draw or a flower or an image on a photograph. Observe what thoughts and feelings come up for you when you’re doing this.

  • Ask a friend

Ask a handful of people, friends, family or colleagues, what creative activities they do. If you like the idea of any of them, see if they can show you some of their work or better still, how to do it. That way you can try things out without formally joining a class or buying materials etc.

Much of my work is about helping people to express themselves emotionally through developing a language of emotion and through writing. Using creativity is a huge part of emotional literacy * and it is through being able to express and articulate our emotional space that we can find healing.

* “Emotional Literacy is our ability to recognise, understand, handle and appropriately express our emotions. Weare (2003) defines emotional literacy as ‘the ability to understand ourselves and other people; and in particular to be aware of, understand and use information about emotional states of ourselves and others with skill and competence. It includes the ability to understand, express and manage our own emotions and respond to the emotions of others in ways that are helpful to ourselves and others.’ Antidote (2003) provides another similar definition in saying that emotional literacy is the practice of interacting with others in a way that builds understanding of our own emotions, then using this understanding to shape our actions.” (Definition taken from The Success Partnership)

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