Are You Typecasting Your Creativity?

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Two things happened this week that made me think about how we hold ourselves back from the creative work we want to make.

One, I came across an art course that I’ve always wanted to explore — and found myself weirdly resistant to buying it. And two, I wondered what a horror movie would look like with Zooey Deschanel as the villain.

(Bear with me — these ideas connect, I promise.)

It’s hard to imagine a horror with Zooey as a murderous antagonist, right? Someone dark and malicious and scary. It just doesn’t fit with her usual aesthetic of perky, pretty oddball with annoyingly perfect bangs.

It’s no secret why this is hard to picture. It’s because I — or perhaps Hollywood — have typecast her. I see her as one thing, and not another.

And when I was sitting at my laptop with my hand hovering over the ‘buy’ button of a random, new art course, I realized this is exactly what I was doing to myself:

I was typecasting my creativity.

Because this particular creative idea didn’t fit with my idea of what my creativity looked like, it wasn’t to be indulged. And in doing so, I was typecasting myself and what I was and wasn’t allowed to explore.

My thought process went something like this, “Well, if I did want to explore this kind of creativity, what would I even do with it? How would it fit into my overall career? Would I have to talk about it? What’s the point if it doesn’t fit into what I’m already doing? Would it just be a distraction? How would this even look? (and on and on and on…)

To which I’d say — since when should we expect creativity to follow the rules or expectations? I believe that creativity, like our emotions, is a one tap deal: If we open ourselves up to one kind of creativity, we open ourselves up to all of it. Just like we can’t experience joy if we don’t allow in the pain. This doesn’t mean we need to act on everything that calls to us creatively, but we must witness it — or risk the tap drying up completely.

As multi-passionate creatives, it’s important that we claim our spaces, but that we also don’t have a unbending understanding of what our creativity must look like. This gets harder as you start to share your work on the internet, or build any form of “brand” with it. But without consciously exploring this, we risk missing out on so much.

We can’t typecast ourselves. We can’t demand that our creativity always fits within our expectations of it, because in doing so, it stops being creativity.

Which brings me to our Hilltop Question today:

Where are you typecasting your creativity? Or yourself? Where are you asking yourself to colour between the lines you’ve already drawn — out of habit, expectation, or plain old fear? If you’re a writer or painter or designer or anything else, where are you holding yourself to “what that looks like”? And in doing that, what are you refusing to express of yourself?

With that: What creative idea is nudging you, that you’re not really giving the time of day, because you’re typecasting yourself?

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