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My journey to creativity activist after leading workshops at Girls Rock Grand Rapids

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THE FEED

I've written songs everyday since February 12 of this year for my "365 Day Songwriting Challenge" and have written over 1000 songs since 2014. Everyone is creative and if you learn to unblock your creativity, you, too, can enjoy a creative and fulfilling approach to life.
Singer/songwriter Jessica Fogle of "Jessica in the Rainbow"

/ Rachel Resterhouse

Singer/songwriter Jessica Fogle of "Jessica in the Rainbow"


Jessica Fogle of "Jessica in the Rainbow" performing at a house show in December 2016 at Brick Nest.

Jessica Fogle of "Jessica in the Rainbow" performing at a house show in December 2016 at Brick Nest. /Ryan Wyrick

Singer/songwriter Jessica Fogle of "Jessica in the Rainbow"

Singer/songwriter Jessica Fogle of "Jessica in the Rainbow" / Rachel Resterhouse

Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported

I went from being creatively blocked to writing multiple songs a week since 2014. And I've written every day since February 12, 2017 for my 365-Day Songwriting Challenge. I am a creativity activist.

What is a creativity activist? It is someone who believes we are all creative. Someone who feels a sense of purpose in helping others overcome whatever stands in the way of them being their most authentic selves. 

I read a lot of so-called “self-help” books in my early 20s. Which is a funny term, as they are clearly “others-help” books (i.e. those writers were my mentors through the pages, I couldn’t have figured out any of those things on my own).  

The biggest topic I kept being drawn to was creativity. I’ve been writing songs since I was three years old, no kidding. My dad was a singer/songwriter, and I think having a role model for something you want to do makes it so much easier to believe you, too, can do it.

But after having some successes in early childhood, winning songwriting awards and garnering almost too much positive feedback too fast, I became blocked. I started worrying about what I wrote, wondered why people weren’t interested in what I had to say anymore, shrunk myself down to a manageable size (i.e. only showed songs to a few friends, after previously doing schoolwide assemblies of my original music). I’m sure there were many factors – friend problems, puberty, crushes, broken hearts, insecurity, worry about image. But long story short – I became boxed in by all of these emotions, and lost access to my ability to write prolifically.

Living in NYC during 9/11 snapped something wide open in me – a craving for the profound perhaps? A longing for God or the unknown/mystery, or whatever that feeling of non-thinking from childhood was. My grandma had just become a nun at 85, fulfilling one of her childhood dreams after having a marriage and kids and secret career as an architect, and amidst all my intense self-doubt and self-scrutiny I felt something reawakening in me. The sense that we can always reinvent ourselves, whenever we want to. This led to a hunger for books on how to “be yourself,” or “find your purpose.” And this ultimately led me to devour numerous books on creativity – primary ones being The Right to Write, The Artists’ Way, and Wishcraft. To be honest, I could never get through them, but they sat there in my room like a beacon of hope, feeling like something simpler was inside of me – wanting to skirt the self-consciousness I lived with, and just be fully myself again, like a kid.

Skipping ahead, by 2014, and after some positive life changes including trying out forums like FAWM.org and “50 Songs in 90 Days” (highly recommended for blasting through writer’s block), I found myself unable to stop writing HUNDREDS of songs a year. These books on creative unblocking, and my personal experiences with treating songwriting like a muscle, or like a faucet, and no longer worrying obsessively about whether anything was “good” or not rubbed off on me so intensely, that I could barely NOT turn to songwriting as my main source of joy, pleasure, and comfort.  

When I hooked up with Girls Rock Grand Rapids later that year, I was given the opportunity to lead workshops in lyric writing and “creative self-esteem.” It was such a wonderful experience overall, and such a great community to connect with for someone new to West Michigan – but what surprised me most of all about this experience, was that the adults seemed to be getting more out of these creative self-esteem workshops than the kids! And these are confident, powerful women, whom I admire greatly. This led me to a theory that being blocked must be so common and accepted in our culture, that most of us don’t even notice when we’re blocked creatively. And I truly don’t think it has to be this way!

After these workshops, I started feeling like a “creativity activist”! Everywhere I went, I found myself trying to convince people that there’s nothing special about writing hundreds of songs a year – they can be repetitive and recycle themes and anyone can train on an instrument, so it is no different than talking or singing every day, except in rhyme sometimes.  

However after years of “number dropping” (i.e. mentioning how I write hundreds of songs a year) I sensed that it wasn’t enough. So I decided to do something a bit nuts. Today is Day 129 of my 365-Day Songwriting Challenge on YouTube. I wanted to share this process with others in all its vulnerability, and raw awkwardness, so people could see for themselves that daily writing is not a fancy thing. It’s a muscle, or a choice, and you don’t have to do it well. You just have to do it (if you want to, of course).

My hope in doing this is that people everywhere can be inspired to realize that they can be more creative, more prolific, more expressive, take up more space, and create more than they consume (and of course, support your fellow creatives whenever possible, especially if they inspire you).

Everyone is creative. And there is literally no limit on what you can do or be, at least that is what I believe. Maybe my brain was just filled with inspirational quotes at a young age from too much Sesame Street or Mister Rogers Neighborhood, but my life has been infinitely more peaceful and joyful since I began allowing myself to flow with the invisible river of creativity that we all have access to.  

If you’d like to follow my progress on YouTube, and/or cheer me on, here’s some links!
jessicaintherainbow.com
youtube.com/channel/UCWUrJO6vPyVVCk_VDABUmaw
jessicaintherainbow.bandcamp.com
facebook.com/jessicaintherainbow
Instagram @jessicaintherainbow
Twitter @jessinrainbow


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