Self-expression

What’s this about?

I’m almost at the end of my series of blog posts on different versions or definitions of creativity. So far we’ve covered a whole range. The definitions overlap with one another, but if you look at all of them at the same time, you’ll see immediately that the emphasis is different and some seem poles apart. Here they are:

  1. Playfulness – emphasizes play.
  2. Craft – emphasizes learning a craft.
  3. The Creatives – emphasizes the creative side of business.
  4. Creative industries – emphasizes the world of work.
  5. Creative learning and teaching – emphasizes education.
  6. Creative practice – emphasizes the various disciplines within the Creative Arts.
  7. Creative thinking – emphasizes problem-solving.
  8. Self-actualisation – emphasizes becoming your true self.
  9. Self-expression – emphasizes getting your feelings out or your voice heard.
  10. Creative therapies – emphasizes the therapeutic side of the Creative Arts.

If you missed the introduction, it’s here: If you think you’re not creative, read this

I’m applying the Small Steps Method to creativity in these posts. Never heard of the Small Steps Method? I explain it here.

What is self-expression?

Self-expression intersects with creativity when you write or paint or draw or dance or sing or sculpt (etc.) in order to get your emotions out or to say what you want to say. It’s a broad area, of course, but these four things apply:

  • Doing it is more important than making it ‘good’ or ‘polished’.
  • It’s not about coming up with innovative ideas.
  • Anyone can do it. Accessibility is key.
  • It’s a way to find a voice through the Creative Arts.

To contradict myself

To contradict myself for a moment: self-expression is also the by-product of all of the other definitions of creativity I’ve written about, but the aim of what you’re doing changes. For instance, you can get your voice heard through creative thinking, but you are aiming to come up with innovative ideas. You can express your emotions through creative practice, but you might sacrifice getting your feelings out in order to hone your work according to your discipline. (Imagine a bassoon player ‘expressing him or herself’ in the middle of a concert and you’ll see what I mean.)

Why express yourself?

This feels like a generational thing. My grandparents’ generation were suspicious of ‘letting your feelings out’ whereas now it’s fashionable, within a certain context. There are a few answers that apply to being creative; they won’t all affect every circumstance:

  • Because it’s good for you – it’s better not to bottle up your feelings, especially those seen as unacceptable or negative.
  • Because it helps you to communicate with others – if you know what you’re thinking and feeling, it’s easier to articulate your needs clearly.
  • Because it’s fun – you’re trying out the creative thing (painting or sculpture, for example) because you thought it would be fun to have a go, not because you’re going to become a professional.
  • Because it’s important to hear everyone’s voice, including under-represented voices.

How do I do it?

  • Start a journal.
  • Take photos and share them digitally or print them and display them.
  • Join a beginners class – dancing, painting, sculpture, writing.
  • Find a choir.

Up next: Creative Therapies

 


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