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Art. That’s something you pay to see, isn’t it? Actually it’s a lot more than that, and it’s not something best left to the professionals. Having a little creativity in your life is good for the soul, and it’s a great way to introduce fun into your life.Too often we think of art as something that should be left to the talented few. Other people can write a novel, or paint a picture because they’re creative, but we’re not. Right? Wrong! If you allow yourself to think this way you’re missing out on a lot of fun.

There are two common barriers to unleashing creativity in our lives. Firstly, we simply don’t feel any creative energy inside us. Work can be very draining, whether you’re in back-to-back meetings or just staring at a spreadsheet. At the end of the day it’s easy to feel you only have the energy to flop on the sofa and watch Big Brother on the telly.

Creativity is a beast that needs to be fed. Nurture yourself by spending some time absorbing the arts. Go to a play, or a movie that’s a little different to what you would normally choose. Listen to some music, really listen, don’t just have it on in the background. Read a good book. Anything that allows you to suspend reality and just enjoy the ride is good soul food. It’s great to do something like this regularly. Make it a priority, not just a way to pass the time.

The second barrier that stops us from being creative is focusing too strongly on the outcome. We’re trained at school and at work to write the best possible assignment and create the best looking presentation. In Home Economics we were marked on how good our cake looked, not how much fun we had making it.

As a result of being so focused on the end goal, we forget to enjoy the process, and when you’re introducing more creativity into your life, the process is the goal. It’s something that we do just for the pleasure of it, not because we particularly need appliqu?d cushion covers.

Remember kindergarten? Everyone loved painting. We’d paint and paint until the paper was soggy. And no matter what the end result was, we wanted to stick it up on the fridge. We loved to sing. We’d sing in the supermarket, or walking down the street, not caring what anyone else thought, we did it because we enjoyed it. It’s that sense of fun that is so often missing in our adult lives.

To enjoy being creative you need to give yourself permission to be less than perfect. When you sit down to write a short story, you need to fight the urge to edit every word before it’s even on the page. If you’re taking your first pottery class, it really doesn’t matter if you end up with a round bowl or not.

If you can’t silence your inner critic, then you need to outsmart it. Choose an activity you want to do, and just do it. Start writing. Start painting. Start singing. Don’t give yourself a split second to think about the outcome. Just do it, no matter how badly. Don’t allow the fear of creating something less than perfect stop you from enjoying yourself.

If you’re still too afraid to start writing that screenplay or rock song now, start smaller. Paint your toenails in different coloured stripes. Buy some lollies and decorate a cake. Take your camera somewhere new and work on your photographic skills.

Try not to take it too seriously. You’ll be surprised at the result when you loosen the reins on your creative self.

By Louise Pattie

*Louise Pattie is a freelance writer who likes motivating others and enjoys a range

of unfashionable hobbies.