You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. – Maya Angelou

Five weeks ago, I posted Why Writers Should Stop Blogging, and decided to take my own advice by cutting back on blogging from three times a week to just once or twice. Just as I had hoped, this more flexible approach to blogging has felt freeing, and I’ve been able to use some of the extra time for other writing:

  • a guest post for the Lenten series on Godspace – my post will go live during the fifth week of Lent when the focus will be the brokenness of God’s family; in the meantime, check out this week’s post on the brokenness of homelessness.
  • an article for Purpose magazine on listening for God.
  • my newest writing project is a Bible Study Guide for Mennonite Women Canada and USA on the theme of creativity, which is to be released in 2015. I’m honoured by the invitation to work on this, and so excited about this particular topic!

I’ve been interested in creating and the creative process ever since I wrote my first poems in elementary school, ever since I started experimenting with different recipes as a young bride, ever since I studied theology and reflected on God as our great Creator. Creativity was one of the first boards I started on Pinterest, with resources on creativity and wonderful quotes:

Creativity is intelligence having fun.

– from Albert Einstein.

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.

– from Maya Angelou.

Pottery making

Pottery is one of the creative arts in Scripture.

My first deadline for this project is the end of July, when the first Bible study and the outlines of the other twelve sessions are due. I’ve already happily started brainstorming:

God as the great creator and source of human creativity.

Creative arts in Scripture: music, singing, dancing, gardening, metal work, fabric arts, cookery, poetry, pottery, storytelling, architecture, others?

Jesus as creative storyteller who used everyday things like flour and yeast to teach about God.

Galatians 6:4-5 (The Message): “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”

Resources: Walking On Water: Reflections On Faith & Art by Madeleine L’Engle, The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy Sayers.

Questions (from the Bible Study Advisory Council): Why are we creative beings?  How do we unleash our creativity?

As I begin this project, I’d like to ask for your help. What questions do you have about creativity? What resources would you suggest? If you were looking for a Bible study on creativity, what texts and topics would you like to see addressed?

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Categories: Spiritual Practice, Writing

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27 replies

  1. Certainly would start with being created in the image of God!

    • Yes, Robin, I totally agree – our creativity is part of what it means to be created in the image of God, and I’m thinking that might well be the first session of this series.

  2. Hi April The first book that comes to mind is “Ways of seeing” by John Berger. For me, creativity is about connecting things. The more open I am, the more connections I see. The more I look around, behind, beneath, over and get different perspectives the more connections I witness. Part of connecting is remembering. I think of the story of building the tabernacle in the wilderness and all the artists that were gifted and called to work together. Jesus sees behind our questions and words, like the story of the man who couldn’t get into the pool. Jesus’ creative question highlights what is keeping him from going into the pool. Creativity is also about practice. Some thoughts on a Wednesday morning, Lois

    • Lois, your comment reminds me of one of the quotes on my Pinterest board “Creativity is just connecting things.” I’m not sure I’d say “just” but it’s definitely part of how I experience creativity too. I’ll definitely take a look at John Berger’s book. Thanks!

  3. Our participation of love in God’s creation.

    • oh, I confess I hadn’t thought of that immediately, but of course God’s creativity and creation are a natural fit with any discussion of human creativity. On your blog, I see how much creation is woven into your reflections, and appreciate your example.

  4. I think for me, as a creative person, I struggle with accepting the praise I get for the art cards I make for others and the poetry I write, because on one hand I am doing it out of love for the person receiving it and out of love for God, but on the other hand, to be honest, my self esteem is so poor that I hunger for the love. But I truly want to be creating for the glory of God, and the joy it gives me to be creating feeling the Spirit working in me as I write or paint or whatever, less of me, more of Him is what I am trying to say I struggle with.

    • Jennifer, thank you for sharing your struggle. It seems to speak to the “why” of creativity which is also important — is it for God’s glory or for our own? do we seek “success” for our creative work, or is the joy of being creative enough? I appreciate connecting with you on this, and would like to explore this heart of creativity more deeply as I work on this project.

  5. Good article and interesting responses, April! Thanks. To encourage other members of our Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook to read this, I highlighted your post on the Christian Poets & Writers blog – http://christianpoetsandwriters.blogspot.com. God bless you and your creative work.

    • I appreciate the highlight, Mary, and thank you for the Christian Poets & Writers blog and Facebook group — I love the creativity there, and being able to share with each other seems to inspire more creative work too.

  6. Christine Valters Paintner’s The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom.

  7. I love the Maya Angelou quote and so agree – Our God is an infinite God and I find His well never dries out! April, I really enjoy, appreciate and often agree with your thoughts. Love the comments as well. Thanks for another edifying and thoughtful post!

  8. I don’t know if this fits here, April, but have you looked at Dave Harrity’s “Making Manifest?” I’m coordinating a group study of it on my blog in May. You might find some cool material in there.

    Here’s a link to some links. Or maybe you’d join us?

    http://sandraheskaking.com/2014/04/40-words-lent-2014-day-30-plus-invitation-giveaway/

  9. I recommend “Art & Fear” by Bayles and Orland. I return to it when I’m stuck and when I need to think about what it means to create. I appreciate this post and the comments. I hope to experience your project. -Kathleen

    • I appreciate your recommendation, Kathleen. I’m not familiar with this book, but I will be now thanks to you. I’m intrigued that it’s written by artists for artists, and by their definition of “ordinary art”–i.e., “all art not made by Mozart” or other rare creative geniuses, which makes this accessible to the rest of us. Thanks!

  10. Hi April! Great topic for a book and study. It would be interesting to ponder (and have exercises to help people ponder!) ways to encourage creativity. The connectedness mentioned earlier in the comments is one way to do this! An interesting website is http://fearlesscreativity.com/. The author’s blog reflects on the different aspects of creativity. Enjoy the new project, April!

    • Hi Sharon – that looks like a great website. It covers a lot and will be especially helpful as I think about the scope of my writing on creativity. Thanks for the recommendation and for your good wishes!

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