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The Abecedary of Creative Confidence - A is for Agency

Updated: May 12

Hello friends, it’s International Women’s Day 2023, and what better day to start my new series, the Abecedary of Creative Confidence. It’s my thoughts on the creative process, the benefits of having a regular creative practice, some cheerleading, probably some whinging

and some incoherent babble. But mostly me giving myself - and you - reasons to keep creating.

The Abecedary is just a cute way to find some structure, so here we go with a topic that I think is especially apt for today, International Women’s day - A is for Agency.

Creativity is a special kind of power. Please note that I haven’t started with A is for Art - I am specifically talking about creativity here rather than art because I think the A word is loaded with all kinds of baggage (B is for baggage? Oh this is gonna be fruitful!). When you create, you make something from nothing. From an idea in your head, though your hands or your mouth or your body, something that didn’t exist before is born. It could be a song, a dance, origami or a doodle on the message pad while you’re on hold to the electricity company, but you made something that wasn’t there before through the force of your own will.

You’ve made decisions and affected your environment. And with regular practice, the process of making something from nothing gives you this goddam powerful feeling that YOU CAN DO STUFF. This is agency.

But agency is not only the power to do things in the world - it is the feeling, the belief - that you have that power - as Charlotte Burgess-Auburn describes it in her book ‘You Need a Manifesto’ - ‘‘that internal permission to pursue and achieve. It carries the meaning of both “can” and “may”.’ (hang on a sec, just jotting down - M is for Manifesto. Go read that book and we’ll talk about it later).

I am of course cognisant that agency is not distributed evenly in the world. I am a middle class white woman in a rich country with a tertiary education, and may experience this feeling of power more readily than others. But in my world, in my experience - my creative practice has in no small part contributed to a belief in my own agency. And so I recommend it to you - I reckon the more women out there who feel like they can change the world, the better.

Happy International Women’s Day!

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