by Diane McMahon
Photography by Heather Moon
“I’m just not creative,” laments an attractive, successful businesswoman and mother. The sentence drops off with a sigh and a shrugged shoulder. The conversation slinks it’s way to a less deflating topic. This woman has created a beautiful home, a happy family and a thriving accounting business. What is she talking about? And if she’s not creative, what does “being creative” actually mean?
According to the Iowa State University Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, creativity is both a mental activity—performed in situations where there is no prior solution or answer—and a process through which new and unique ideas are developed. The Creativity at Work website adds, “Creativity involves two processes—thinking then producing. If you have ideas, but don’t act on them, you are imaginative but not creative.
At one time, creativity was thought of as a product of genius that changed the world, created by people like Thomas Edison, Picasso or Steve Jobs. This was sometimes called “Big-C” creativity. Now the concept of “little-c” or everyday creativity is recognized. Hundreds of blogs, books, quotes and classes encourage people to exercise, develop, discover and appreciate their inner creativity.
This recognition of “little-c” creativity can be traced back to 1992 when The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, by Julia Cameron, was first published. The book offered techniques and exercises to help people gain self-confidence in their ability to express themselves through their creative talents and skills. The concept was that everyone could live creatively in his or her day-to-day life. The emphasis on creative personal development was considered revolutionary at the time and became a worldwide phenomenon, spawning “creativity” support and discussion groups around the globe.
Now, more than two decades later, Carrie Bloomston has written The Little Spark: 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity for a new generation of creativity seekers. It is an interactive workbook full of illustrations, instructions and insights with maternal nudges to help you get out of your rut and live more creatively. The book is structured into 30 chapters corresponding to 30 sparks—with compelling titles like “Make a Huge Mess”, “The Crazies: Blah. Blah. Blah” and “Break Your Own Rules.” Bloomston suggests you can do spark a day over a month, or any way you choose. She is not interested in product or process; her concern is helping you develop a way of being.
In the introduction Bloomston says, “Living a creative life means more than being an artist, writer, quilter, crafter or chef [all of which Bloomston seems to be]. It is a way of living life with curiosity and openness. It means thinking from the heart, thinking for yourself and thinking outside the box.”
Bloomston is most persuasive when she rages against perfectionism. She writes, “Perfectionism is the enemy of the creative act. It constricts and confines you. It squeezes you into unrecognizable, contorted shapes. Believe me I know. I white-knuckled my life, art and relationships, thinking if I could control the outcome…then everyone would know that I was doing it right and that I was good enough. Thankfully, I got over that.”
This quote comes in her “Make a Huge Mess” chapter. Bloomston literally encourages the liberating release of making a mess. She also advises you to accept the messy parts of the self you keep hidden. She admonishes that striving for perfection will keep you cramped and frozen. It’s in our human messiness that we find connection and wholeness.
Bloomston insists it is crucial to break out of the comfort zone in order to think and act in new and creative ways. Quoting Alan Alda she asserts, “You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover is yourself.” In one of the “Do This” sections (found in every chapter) she suggests taking a walk with your eyes closed down an unfamiliar road (with a friend to keep you safe) or drawing your favorite quote directly onto a living room wall. (And letting your kids do the same.) She challenges the reader to take risks and discover something unexpected in their environment and themselves.
In a chapter titled “Inner-Kid Care,” she urges you to conjure a vision of yourself as a child, full of ideas and dreams, and cultivate a relationship with that kid who is you. Bloomston talks about feelings of shame and inadequacy being the culprits that can cripple our childhood passions and tamp out those early sparks of creativity. These feelings of being flawed and “not good enough” seek to stay hidden, but bringing them to light lessens their power. They “skulk off.” She champions Brene’ Brown whose TED (www.ted.com/talks) talk on vulnerability went viral and suggests listening to all her talks. Bloomston’s final endorsement of Brown claims, “She has changed my life. I recommend that you get her books, too.”
In her concluding chapter she admits “A few years ago, I began the process of letting go of control. I am in recovery from control—control over others, myself, my thoughts, my life, the outcome and my image.” She continues, “You can’t force your creativity into existence. Creativity is more like water. It flows. You get to catch it for a few minutes in your hands before it spills out and moves on.”
This book will redefine your concept of creativity. Carrie Bloomston’s goal is to redefine your sense of who you are and how you live. This book is in the mail to the attractive, successful businesswoman and mother who described herself as “not creative.” As Bloomston says, “Creativity is not something you do; it is who you are and you need to let your light shine.”
All content, image and design shown in photos is copyrighted by
The Little Spark and C&T Publishing/Stash Books.