“Creative” and “joy” were at one point in my life, mutually exclusive concepts for me. On the mean streets of advertising, you were from one side of the track or another. You were either a Suit or a Creative. (Like the Sharks vs the Jets but with far less fancy dance moves.)

Depending on your vantage point: Suits = out of touch stiffs. Creatives = out of touch flakes.

Admittedly, I was a Suit. But I secretly harboured the belief that I was a Suit with a side of Creative. And no, not the kind that thought adding clipart to my .ppt presentations meant that I had a good design eye. (That sort of self-deprecating talk about my kind helped raise my stock with the Creatives, you see). No, I believed in the power of creativity, and that it was for all of us. And, armed with my ideological ways and Libran charm, I believed that I’d be the first one, ever, to bridge the two sides. I could see the value in both camps and knew our best work would come from bringing harmony to the creative process. And dare I say it, joy?

Umm. Not so much.

This work wasn’t about joy. It was about work. The industry is built around creativity was a transactional endgame. Get an idea. Get people on board. Cook it or be cooked. Someone’s not doing something right and with all that firepower, people get burnt.

That was then.

As I tripped and traipsed through the next stages of my life, I couldn’t shake my Pollyanna belief that I could be a Suit AND a Creative. That burnt as I felt there wasn’t a way to have it MY WAY. To be a powerful force in this world AND to be deeply rooted in a richly sustained and creative way. That I had something to be expressed.

It started with a new belief. That creativity may be about output, but it’s not about outcome. And that the process was the point. Not the product. So I decided to “try” to commit to a belief in the okayness of creating for creating’s sake. For the pure joy of it.

I started to see this: Advertising is a transactional endgame. Creativity is not.

And so, testing this new theory and buoyed by a desire to see some original art hung on our walls, my husband and I started painting. Just for fun. Just to see.

{We saw, and we happened to like what we saw. But that’s hardly the point.}

For the most part, I get the new approach right. And then without warning, I start to treat my writing, painting or other creative pursuits as transactional, and, like clockwork, I shut down. And shut off.

But now, I have a powerful ally. When I stop writing because I’ve allowed myself to measure my words with metrics like Facebook shares, likes and RTs, I have one fail-safe: I sit down to draw with my eight-year-old daughter.

She surveys the blank page, for but a moment, then fearlessly attacks the paper. She has yet to throw a picture away in a moment of “it’s not good enough”. Immersed in the pure love of her process, she just makes it better. For her and her alone. And there are rainbows. And kitties. And peace signs. And joy.

So, my desire for you is this, you Creative, you.

I want you to believe that you were born to create. I want you to believe there is untold and unexpressed beauty within you yearning to be released. It needs to trust that you will not judge its imperfections, nor try to force it into something it’s not. That you will love it for what it is. And that in time, when you have nurtured this tender new growth into the fulsome being that it wants to be, that you will lovingly release it into the world, so that others may rejoice in the beauty: of your words. Of your song. Of your silverwork. Of your adornment. Of your art.

That your “good enough” can move mountains, launch ships, set hearts free.

That your "yes" is someone else's "YES".

I want you to create for you. And THEN spread it around. With joy and abandon.


Oh so much gratitude to Jen, Marianne, and Susannah for inviting me to riff on Creative Joy and for taking a strong and powerful stand for YOUR Creative Joy. Will you join them at their retreat in July?