Grabbing the Reins of Creativity

by | Sep 3, 2018 | Guest Blogger

I remember as a kid thinking creativity was this wild, carefree, easy-going emotion that you just got into, rather like finger-painting. But as I have started using the innovative side of my brain as an adult, I realise what a fragile, ethereal thing creativity really is. I see how strong and confident you need to be in order to truly let your creativity work its magic. For me, drawing on inventiveness does provide an element of magic. When I deeply tap into my creativity and get into a state of ‘flow’, I often finish and have no idea from where the inspiration came.

It also strikes me that, like magic, you need to have ‘belief’ to really get your creativity flowing. I know this from first-hand experience. I have always wanted to write since I worshipped at the feet of the children’s book goddess, Enid Blyton. But, at an early age, I lost my belief and, instead, fell into a rabbit warren of shame and doubt.

In the mid-70’s I was a very shy nine-year-old and a daydreamer. On one occasion I forgot to do my homework, which was to write an essay on “My Horse”. All the diligent, non-dreamers handed in their papers. I was given a day’s grace.

I sat down at home that afternoon and wrote an epic tale about my horse. At least I thought it was epic. He was a beautiful horse and was abducted by communists and locked away in a barn. He rubbed his hooves together on the hay, started a fire and kicked the barn door down to escape. He bolted down the road and left his captors in the dust. He hid on a boat and found his way back from Russia, just to be with me.

.

About Tanya

Tanya Southey is a people collector, tea drinker, dog lover, poetry junkie and recently published author. Her children’s adventure story Ollie and the Starchaser subtly explores grief and loss. In 2018 Tanya is working on a poetry challenge – #52words52weeks – where she is collaborating with London Street Photographer, Denise Smith, to create a poem a week.  Currently Tanya is pretending to have retired from her corporate career, but work keeps finding her.  Her mission, whether in writing or life, remains to help people reach their full potential.  

You can find out more on www.tanyasouthey.com 

My teacher wrote “What Rubbish” in big, bold, but incredibly neat, red handwriting.

She then read it out to the class as an example of what not to write. She said horses didn’t have communist adventures and I should have written about riding my horse in a paddock. Well, I didn’t have a horse. We lived in a small house in the suburbs of a tiny mining town in South Africa where no one had horses.

But I did have ears and eyes. I was an avid listener and observer, and my dad loved communists. He talked about them all the time. It made total sense to me that a beautiful horse would be abducted and sent to Russia. So there was something in her reading it out that not only shamed me, but also cast its shadow on my Italian dad. I saw how people looked at him when he went on about communism in his broken English.

After that, my writing went underground.

Forty-odd years later, I know the science of shame. It drives us into hiding. For years, if I wrote anything that was remotely creative, I winced when someone read it. I felt sick that it might not make the mark.

Last year I went to Boston to be trained in Immunity to Change, with Harvard alumni Professors Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey. The course teaches why we develop an ‘immunity’ or protection to certain situations. It explores why we have certain ambitions in our lives that become like New Year’s resolutions. We set the goals, and put all the behaviours in place to achieve them, and then we don’t succeed. I had to complete my own immunity map, and I chose getting a book published as my objective. I had all the right things in place – a compelling goal, time set aside and writing courses completed – but I had an unknown, hidden protection in place that I uncovered while completing the map. I had protected myself from putting anything out there because of a deep-seated belief that I was not good enough to publish a book.

Fortunately, the map required a ‘safe test’. I set mine to completing my children’s story. Well, my book is out there now and, surprise, surprise, I am still alive. More than that, I am grateful I took a chance on investing in myself and in my writing.

So now when I want to be creative, I gather up that shy nine-year-old; I give her a hug, I give her the pen and I let her go. Even when the clumsiest pieces turn up, I look her in the eye and say, “We’ve got this.”

And she looks back and asks, “Did I ever tell you about my horse?”

Spelling Out My Story

“Bernard! If you don’t stop that, I’ll go get the sack.” That was all Marie said, and her son stopped, looked up in fear, and apologised. Marie relaxed back into her seat and explained, “He knows I’ll hang him in the sack from a tree for an hour. It's funny, he is so...

6 Mistakes Authors Make When They Start Writing

How to Avoid These Mistakes When You Start Writing I consider the longing to write a noble calling to the voice hidden inside us. Helping others get their stories out is part of what gets me out of bed each day. I know our stories can change the lives of others, which...

A Simple Exchange of Niceties

Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake. - Wallace Stevens The first available appointment was for next week only. That was in nine days time. Enough time for hands, brains, eyelids and knee joints to form according to the charts. I took a walk. I needed...

Books That Made a Difference in My Life

When I was in my early teens, my father introduced me to Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood, a play for voices. I became enchanted with language.

The Recipe for Becoming a Successfully Published Author

I often get asked how I became a published author. How did 600 000 copies of my books get sold? How come publishers now approach me to write books for them? I wish I had a recipe I could share like Jamie Oliver so that everyone out there could do the same. But life...

Getting Lost in Our Own Bullsh*t – the Excuses We Use to Not Write

Honestly I’ve heard them all. Hell, I’ve used them all. I’ve had ten books published, have six or seven partially-written manuscripts saved in three different computers and dozens of journals, have mentored hundreds of writers, and even published a few through Joanne...

3 Comments

  1. Debby Doig

    Tanya I love you horse!

    Reply
  2. Allison Aley

    What a triumphant story! I would like to send this wonderful blog to all teacher’s colleges as an example of the harm they should strive to avoid causing in their young students. I would also like to send it to the teacher of your 9 year old self, if she’s still alive. Her response to it would be interesting.

    Reply
  3. Pia

    Lovely Tanya!

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This