Sometimes things happen that changes you.
Changes your creativity.
It could be the simplest thing, propelling you in a new direction. A book, a dream, a new tool. A little push making you leap because you were ready to move on.
It could be that your life is shook to the very core by something life-changing. A sickness, a new life, a move. Your identity shifts and your creativity with it.
Or it could be that someone is forcing you to ask questions of your creativity that you haven't asked before. Questions making you question everything.
That's what happened to Taylor Lee.
An artist changes
Taylor is an artist who've been painting colorful abstract paintings for years. Her art was born out of her recovery from anorexia, and it helped change her life.
Not long ago, she went to an artist residence in Mexico to seek her voice as an artist. What she didn't expect was the hard questions she would have to ask of her art, and the hard answers.
What question does your art ask?
What do you want your art to say?
And the answers?
By painting beauty for the sake of beauty, Taylor found that she was really asking the world the question that had nagged her for so long.
Am I ugly?
It was a realization that hurt, and one that couldn't be ignored. Finding her unintentional intention behind her own art sent Taylor down a completely different path. She started exploring her own relationship with beauty, ugliness and her own body. She started painting body shapes.
With a following online expecting colorful abstract paintings, sharing something so different was scary. Taylor feared that they wouldn't like it or get it, possibly thinking she'd gone crazy. Still, she did, because she was determined to break out of painting for approval.
At the end of the day, Taylor didn't turn into an artist who paints naked bodies. No, she's still an abstract artist, but she's a changed one. Most of all, this experience taught Taylor to always listen to herself as an artist. To make art that reflects her own voice - not what she think others will approve of.
With change comes fear
We fear change because we fear the unknown. And we fear the unknown because it brings a slew of risk to the table. If you're an artist, writer, blogger, photographer or anything else creative, you likely have some kind of style or routine developed.
The topics or genres your write in, the things on the other side of your camera lens and the colors your prefer when you paint, they all define your style somehow. And if you're sharing your creations with the world, those who follow you likely followed you for just that.
So when your creativity starts pulling you in a new direction, it's only natural that your brain get anxious.
How will people react? Will you be able to handle the change, or will your results suffer? Who will you be as a creative, if you let go of that thing you've been doing for so long? What will you lose if you change?
In many ways, it's easier to stay with what you know. Honing your style takes effort and time, and going in a new direction means you'll have to start over in some ways. The reaction from the outside world might not be encouraging at all. People may wonder why the hell you're messing things up, if what you do seems to work.
And yet... How can you not change? How can you keep creating when your creativity is pointing another way?
Without change no growth
All creatives change in small or big ways. It's not just JK Rowling writing crime instead of fantasy, it's all of us. We learn, we go bored, we grow.
Your own perspectives, values, tastes, priorities and sources of delight make a huge impact on what you create. If any of those change, which they are bound to do at some point or another, your creations will change too.
And change isn't only this big, scary thing.
Change is also the longing to let go of what's weighing you down and make room for something that makes your heart dance.
Change is also the thrilling experience of uncovering a new part of yourself.
Change is also going after a dream that has awoken in you and won't be ignored.
Change might not be convenient. From a marketing perspective, it may be outright stupid. But to stay happy, to keep your creativity alive, you need to allow yourselves to grow. If not, you'll hinder yourself from doing your best work.
So the next time you feel that urge to create something new, something odd and out of character, pat your fear on the head and go do it.