Creative entitlement: You are allowed to be here

Most things have already been done – but they have not yet been done by you.

Most things have already been done – but they have not yet been done by you.

If you’re interested in creativity, it is relatively safe to assume that Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way has been recommended to you at some stage. Let me now also recommend Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. She believes that the essential ingredients for creativity are courage, enchantment, permission, persistence and trust:

To live a creative life means having courage. It means living a life that is driven more by curiosity than by fear. But keep in mind that creativity always triggers fear because creativity implies uncertain outcome, which is exactly what fear hates.

The creative process is both magical and magic. Ideas “walk” among us and are available to everybody that are willing and able to help those ideas come to “life”, as it were.

“You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life.”

Persistence: Learning how to endure disappointments and frustration is part of the creative person’s process. Holding yourself together when things aren’t going as well as you would have liked, that is where the real work lies.

Trust that the work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you.

Something else that resonated with me was the admonition that “eventually you will have to do the work by yourself” and that “it is ultimately entirely up to you.” You could have the best training, the best supplies or not. Still, you have to do the work.

And for those battling with nasty negative self-talk, Gilbert believes that creative entitlement is the cure. Creative entitlement, or what the poet David Whyte calls “the arrogance of belonging”, is the simple belief that you are allowed to be here (because you were born, after all). And because you’re allowed to be here, you’re therefore allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own.

I found Big Magic to be inspirational in a straight-forward practical way without sugar-coating.


Create, creation, creative, creativity, creature. Or: How to build your Confidence muscle.

When I went to university, I did some psychometric tests, which resulted in being told that I did not show enough creativity for my intelligence.

I did not really know what to do with this information, but ended up buying some colouring books to colour in. Sad, I know.

Fact of the matter is, though, because of that statement the course of my life had been altered. I suppose I tried harder to incorporate some aspect of creativity, even though it might have been some skewed personal kind of version. Like making a dress of discarded curtains or decorating a beige pinafore dress with old buttons. It went cling when I walked… nobody actually laughed at me, although I don’t know what happened behind my back.

But creativity is not only about what you are able to make with your hands or using interesting or appropriate colours. It is being able to adapt to whatever life throws at you. I think it might have more to do with a positive and courageous attitude to life than being able to draw lifelike pictures in charcoal.

Cat Bennett in The Confident Creative gives some practical ways to make quantum leaps in our creativity:

  • Work big – shed the shyness, be bold.
  • Exaggerate – see what you’re doing, then open your eyes again (*Terry Pratchett reference alert!!*) Consider all things and decide. Focus on one thing in all its detail or focus on relationship of all things. See clearly.
  • Buy pricey paper – this help us be bold and confident.
  • Rip it up – know when you’re going nowhere fast. Rip it up! Stop it! Throw it away!
  • Kiss perfection goodbye – simply explore. It’s ok to be wherever you are, even if you’re uncertain. You need to start somewhere.
  • Let go of control – allow the unknown to emerge…
  • Say farewell to feeling intimidated – don’t compare yourself to anyone! Rather note what turns us on in the work of others and what turns us on in our own work.
  • Breathe deeply – breath is energy. Relax and let go of tension and worry.
  • Be honest – things are as they are; we are as we are; just here, naked, vulnerable, open, a little (or a lot) rough around the edges…
  • Love – if we love ourselves, despite disappointments, it’s easy to keep moving forward.
  • Be foolish – go too far. That’s how you find out where the edge is!
  • Have courage – fear is imagining or expecting a negative outcome and feeling powerless. We can choose to imagine a positive outcome.

Bennett might have compiled this list with drawing and painting in mind, but they sure do apply to life in general (and for that matter, karate!) too. Except maybe the one on buying pricey paper!