Express More of You Creatively? Yes, You Can!

Everyone is born creative

Everyone is born creative. Over time, many of us are ambushed by a set of critical gremlins who want us to believe that we don’t have the talent or capacity to do what we love. Self-judgment, comparison, and competition form a wicked trio that squashes our innate joy in expressing ourselves creatively.

The good news is that with age, we can change that. Our third act comes with a permission slip to abandon the old messages that were never true. Were you told you couldn’t sing? Time to open your mouth. Or couldn’t make art? Bring out the pencils and fingerpaints. Or not to tinker in the garage? Tinker away. Today is your best time ever to create if you’re willing to try.

I’m living proof. For years, I belonged to a million-member chorus of people who believed they couldn’t sing, at least not in public. When we were children, someone probably said, “You can’t carry a tune,” “You’re off-pitch,” or “You call that singing?” Humiliated, we believed what we heard. We retreated, closed down, and started apologizing for our voices.

Nobody was there to remind us that anyone can sing if they can talk. All babies are born cooing and crooning. No child says, “I can’t sing,” until something discouraging happens.

For me, that moment occurred in third grade. I was standing in our class chorus, front row right, as the teacher, Mrs. Johnson, conducted. As I sang my heart out, too enthusiastically for her taste, she stopped the class and said, with an over-sweetened smile, “Dear, I think you’d be better suited as a soloist.” What a great compliment, I thought, until the real meaning hit: “Your voice sticks out and not in a good way.” After that, I only sang when hidden in church or among Christmas carolers.

I returned to singing 50-plus years later when, during the pandemic, I decided to take an online course with Chloë Goodchild from England. Goodchild believes everyone can sing once they find their natural “naked” voice. I learned to stop judging every note and instead learned to witness my voice. I enjoyed the power of silence. As I practiced in triads with classmates, I didn’t worry whether my voice would warble, break, or miss a pitch. My voice blossomed. Soon, I even dared be the one who started the “Happy Birthday” chorus—small for some but big for me. Now you can’t stop me from singing.

Many children have had similar, discouraging experiences in art class. In grade school, “artistic students” are often singled out while others, like me, go into the “no talent” pile. Why try when we’re sure we’ll never make “real art?” According to Dana Lynne Andersen, director of the Academy for Art, Creativity and Consciousness at Awakening Arts, this often happens to children by age 10. The good news is that once her students open the door to creating again, they always find an inner seed ready to sprout.

I’m the poster child for someone who believed she couldn’t paint. Then, at age 69, I was introduced to an older woman who taught watercolors at the local senior center. “Try my class, you’ll love it,” she said. I responded with my standard-issue remark, “Sorry, I don’t do art.” She refused to accept that, and soon I tried her class and found myself enchanted by the world of color. I learned:

  1. Talent doesn’t matter (at my age, who cares?) but trying does.

  2. “Do I like it?” works better than, “Am I good?”

  3. The best question of all: “Is this fun?”

If you have even the smallest hankering to do something creative—art, music, or a form unique to you—you can if you allow yourself to try. I can’t promise that if you sing you’ll make it to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. But at age 70, that’s not where I’m headed. Rather than worrying about how to jump through the hoops of other people’s standards, I’m learning what pleases me and brings me joy.

Here are some ideas to help you express more of the creative you:

  • Drop the old messages. Identify the self-confining “you can’t” baggage you received—it was never true. Or, if you were told that you were talented and “should” make art, drop that, too. This round’s for you.

  • Enjoy being a beginner—and cultivate beginner’s mind. If you were once discouraged, wipe the slate clean. We may be getting older, but it’s never too late to say, “This is my time to create.”

  • Team up with a friend for mutual support. Encouragement is golden, especially from friends who like to learn and grow. When my old “I can’t” or “I’ll never be good” messages surface, a friend will remind me how far I’ve come. Friends who share my creative interests in writing, singing, gardening, and painting make my journey more fun. We applaud each other’s successes and lift each other after a stumble.

  • Start small. Pick something you’d love to do and jump in. One tiny action is better than a thousand “somedays.” If you want to sing, hum. If you want to make art, doodle. Easy is good.

  • Use courses, online and in-person, to give yourself some structure. Classes can provide an opportunity to be social, motivation to do assignments, and tools to help you grow.

  • Discover what you like and do what pleases you. You set your own gold standard. When you enjoy what you’re doing, you do more of it—and then, improving your craft comes naturally.

  • Accept the occasional discouragement. I still struggle with the gremlins of self-judgment who want to put the kibosh on my projects. My best tip for when gremlins say mean things like, “Well, that wasn’t so good” or “You’re wasting your time” is to look straight at them and announce, “I’m doing what I love.”

It works. Gremlins do not know how to counter love. So, yes, you can create your heart out! Do what you love, and the magic will follow. I guarantee it.

Sally Fox, PhD is a life transitions and creativity coach and author of Meeting the Muse After Midlife: One Woman’s Journey to Joy through Creative Self-Expression, to be published in winter 2022. Find her at

Leave A Reply (Your email address will not be published)