Ask An Expert: I Want To Be Creative, But I Don’t Know How

Collage / Julia Gessler

The Creative Hub director John Cranna has some inspiring advice for one reader keen to express themself.

Q: After the relentlessness of last year, that feeling of being tied to my desk, I’ve decided I’d like to incorporate creative pursuits into my life — I love the idea of writing

A: Creative expression is programmed into our genes — we ignore it at our peril. In the aftermath of Covid and the recent wild storms, creativity can be a fast track back to joyful living. And fun.

For 10 years I lived in London’s most violent red-light district, where I wrote my first book. That, and playing my flute, kept me sane. A lot of people who have been through trauma do our courses at The Creative Hub, and a lot of folk (like me) who are refugees from the corporate world thrive in a place where their imagination can run free.

Our workplaces stifle creativity with their iron schedules and relentless pressure. But you don’t need to be a tormented soul to express your creativity. Think of kids and the delight they take in painting, writing, singing, dancing.

Sadly our education system trains that delight out of them with its obsession with ‘the right answer’. There’s no ‘right answer’ in creativity. There’s only expression and learning and exploration and growth.

The corporate world has become dangerously joyless. We tell our students: keep a journal, a magpie collection of reflections on life. Snatches of conversation you’ve overheard on a bus. Odd things you see on the street. People you meet. Books and movies you love.

This kind of reflection replenishes the deeper wells of creativity and rekindles a passion for life. And don’t feel you have to achieve excellence. You might or you might not, and that’s okay. You’ll grow, and you’ll throw open the doors of perception. I love the expression, “Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly,” from the author G.K. Chesterton.

For those shell-shocked by recent adversity, or alienated by a sterile workplace, I say: “Take a leap into the unknown. Enrol in a creative writing class, or a painting class, or a tango class! And learn to meditate, do yoga. Or hike a forest or remote beach for a few hours. Without your phone. Find solitude. A centred soul is a creative powerhouse!”

John Cranna is the author of two internationally published works of fiction and winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize. He’s also a passionate tango dancer and flute player. And a Buddhist meditator. He is the founder and director of The Creative Hub,, which has nurtured many prize-winning writers. Next Intro to Creative Writing Course begins 6pm, April 20 (or anytime online).

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