“To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.”
That’s one of my favorite quotes from author Joseph Chilton Pearce. And while Joseph’s wisdom doesn’t necessarily tell us exactly what it means to life a creatively fulfilled life, he does give us a hint at what it might entail.
If we view creativity as the mental processes involved with coming up with new and valuable ideas, then to live a creative life means fulfilling the conditions required for making those processes possible. Not only enabling ourselves to think creatively, but for our creativity and imagination to thrive.
What, then, does a creative life look like?
I imagine it entails a lot of reasonable risk taking. Whether that’s risks we face in critical moments of our lives, or within the decisions we make every day—like starting a business, investing in yourself, trying to sell your work, or starting the work in the first place—or in risks we take in the work itself. Risk is an inherent part of the creative process because it means we’re facing uncertainty, the previously unknown, gaps in our knowledge.
Through exploration we can uncover new insights, new ideas, and new ways of combining what we know with what we are only just discovering.
Part of a creative life is taking risks. The most creative individuals among us develop habits of risk-taking, in the form of both small gambles or large ones. We rarely ever hear about the small gambles because they don’t seem worthy of our attention, but it’s the small gambles which help us learn how to approach the big ones.
Another part of a creative life is accepting that the risks we take may result in failure, disappointment, or other negative consequences, but looking at the opportunity to take the risk as one that is worthwhile anyway.
In the world of creative research, this acceptance is commonly referred to as openness to experience, which is a trait many believe to be the most telling of creative potential. Openness to experience means acknowledging the risk but having the confidence to approach it anyway.
A creative life is one filled not only with risk, but with the courage to face it in any form.
One way to build that creative confidence in yourself is by utilizing play and experimentationmore in your life. By turning even the most mundane activities into a chance to try something new or different; something as simple as brushing your teeth with the opposite hand, trying a new food, or taking a different path than you normally take to school or work.
It’s not uncommon for highly creative individuals to dabble in many different things: from art and music, to filmmaking, bird watching, wood carving, playwriting, computer programming, mixology, book binding, auto repair, cinematography, and anything else you can think of. The reason they tend to dabble: because experimenting with things that aren’t your profession allows you to embrace making mistakes and discover new ways to learn different things. As Facebook designer Jasmine Friedl puts it:
“Experimenting through small things gives us an opportunity to validate everything we think we know.”
A creative life, then, is one filled with play and experimentation, risk taking, and the courage to see it through. Are those things you see in yourself, in the life your living? If not: what’s one small risk, one thing you can experiment with today? What about tomorrow?