Ever notice how people skirt around calling themselves artists, even if they draw or write regularly? What's that about?
When I do it, I imagine a thick black line drawn between the aficionado and the "true" artist or writer.
Picasso, Hemingway, these people are the real deal. I take photographs of fruit at farmers' markets and have a blog. Big difference.
But is it really?
Consider other titles we assume more easily. Like smoker. Is a smoker someone who has one cigarette each day? What about a whole pack? If you ask me, both are smokers. Either can explain what they enjoy about it, their favorite brand, and how it makes them feel.
When I co-led a writers' retreat earlier this year in Colorado, one of the most powerful exercises was when each person was asked to say, "I am a writer," aloud in front of the group. There was trepidation, tears and relief in saying those words.
Creativity in any form is very personal and sometimes emotional. To state openly that you're an artist requires confidence that what you create will meet others' approval, that you will not be ridiculed for making the claim, that you will live up to the assumed qualifications of the title. Out of fear most of us just avoid it.
In avoiding though we're denying a part of ourselves from being expressed and accepted. If we can't accept ourselves, how can anyone else?
Forgive the cliche, but art is a state of mind. It's beyond how often you compose a poem or sketch a portrait. It's how you see the world—the colors, the shapes, the interaction between people on and below the surface.
Notice the subtle ways you're already creative. I wrote out my grocery list with a colored pencil today. My friend likes to watch people at a bar and invent conversations they might be having. Whatever it is, embrace it.
I am an artist. And so are you.