Friday, May 28, 2010

Creative Wanderlust by Smoky Trudeau

Creativity is not something that you have or you don’t have. Creativity is inherent in all of us. I don’t believe the word creative is synonymous with the word talent. Talent is something you have or don’t have. I love to sing, but you don’t want to be in the same room with me when I’m singing.

Creativity is a gift to be respected and nurtured, just as you respect and nurture your family, your pets, your houseplants, your health. It is as vital to life as the air you breathe and the food you eat. If you don’t nurture and respect your creativity, it will fail you, just like your body will fail you if you fail to nurture and respect it.

Creativity needs to be fed, just like your body needs to be fed. And just as your body cannot thrive on a single food, creativity cannot thrive when channeled into a single medium. You wouldn’t feed your body only carrots. Yes, carrots are good for you, but if you ate only carrots, you’d get sick (not to mention your skin would turn a really funny shade of orange). Creativity is no different. It needs a variety of foods to stay healthy.

For most creative people, this isn’t a problem, because most of us have a condition I call creative wanderlust. Creative wanderlust is the need to pursue a variety of artistic endeavors. Talent and artistic ability are optional. For people with creative wanderlust, bad art is just as fulfilling as good art. It’s not the end product, but rather the act of creating, that’s important.

You can’t ignore creative wanderlust. Nor can you cure it. It isn’t a disease. Rather, it is dis-ease, and the only way to relieve it is to grab a paintbrush, pick up a drum, put on your dancing shoes—whatever your heart tells you—and create.

For people with creative wanderlust, a blank canvas, a new sketchbook, or an unusual musical instrument from some faraway land is like an open road begging to be explored. It’s a fair analogy; people with creative wanderlust also tend to have the need to explore new places, often in search of new creative experiences. This is very true of me. I wander all over the place, sketchbooks, camera, and notebooks in hand. I play with clay, sculpting figures of bears, cats, or whatever else the clay tells me it wants to become.

If I did not honor my creative wanderlust, I could not be the writer I am. Pursuing other artistic pleasures is like taking writing vitamins. I write okay when all I do is write. But I create beautiful works of art, both written and visual, when I take my creative vitamins—when I feed my creative nature with picture taking or sculpting clay figures.

So today, pick up a sketch book, grab your kid’s box of crayon, or dig your old band instrument out of the closet. Take a long shower and sing your heart out. You’ll have fun, and you’ll be a better writer for it.

Smoky Trudeau is the author of the newly released Observations of an Earth Mage, a collection of photos, essays, and poems celebrating our beautiful planet earth. She is also the author of two novels, Redeeming Grace and The Cabin, as well as two books for writers, Front-Word, Back-Word, Insight Out: Lessons on Writing the Novel Lurking Inside Your From Start to Finish, and Left Brained, Write Brained: 366 Writing Prompts and Exercises, all from Vanilla Heart Publishing. You can learn more about Smoky at, or at her blog on Xanga, You can also look her up on Facebook.


  1. This is great advice, Smoky! When I'm having trouble writing I'll often sketch or work with my plants. Using the hands in another creative medium aside from writing is so important! :)

  2. Those imagination vitamins work wonders.

  3. Misha: Thank you! Sounds like you have the creative wanderlust down to an art form (joke intended!)

    Malcolm: That's just plain nice, Malcolm. Thank you.

  4. As a graduate of a specialized and professional art high school as well as a college drama major, I've noticed how my fellow alumni and I tend to flit between the arts and creative endeavors.

    I like to tell people I'm just a bit flaky, but I like your explanation better.


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