Rediscovering Creativity with Kirra Smith
Kirra Smith is a writer, photographer and writing coach living in one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Gold Coast Australia.
She works with passionate creatives and companies who want to make a difference in the world. Having begun her career in PR, Kirra has worked with some of the most inspiring names in the health and wellness industry and since then has built a career from the three things she loves most; words, beautiful photos and teaching others.
We talk to Kirra about creativity, flow and soul lessons we can all learn from.
SSC: Kirra, tell us about how you have come to be here today? Turning your back on creativity and finding it all over again.
Kirra: As a little girl, I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I LOVED everything about magazines – the glossy pages (that smell), the sharp, sassy words, the fashion, I couldn’t get enough. Getting lost in a beautifully written story was, and is, my favourite thing to do. I didn’t know what I wanted to write about or even what I could write about, all I knew was that I wanted to make people feel the way I felt when I read stories. I had two incredible English teachers in high school who nurtured me and encouraged me to write (poetry mostly) and find my own voice and to this day, I credit them for my becoming a writer.
When I was 14, one of my poems was chosen to be printed in a real life book. I was as excited as a 14 year old is about anything and not long after it arrived, I promptly put it on a shelf and went about my life. No-one in my family had ever had a career as a ‘creative’ and throughout high school I was unsure how that would actually work but, I enrolled in University to study journalism (as creative as I would allow myself to be) and away I went. Turns out studying journalism and becoming a writer aren’t the same thing and once I was done with my study (where not much about writing was learned) I was propelled into the real world and found out pretty quickly that writing jobs are few and far between. So I took one in PR and shelved my writing dream. After about four years, my deeply buried creative self came calling again. I submitted an article to a national literary journal and it was accepted. It was a dream come true and I figured that would be enough to bring me instant fame. Nope.
Again, I put my creativity aside and continued to cruise along working in yes, creative roles, but none that gave me the deep fulfilment I craved.
Fast forward to early 2017 and life gifted me some absolutely heart shattering pain (dramatic yes, true also yes,) and, another shot at my dream and the path that led me here to the love of my life, photography. I’ve been working as a writer and photographer for an online magazine since then and although last year was my hardest yet, it gave me more confidence and strength than I ever knew was possible and it showed me that living a creative life is what I was meant for. So many times in the past I have turned my back on creativity thinking a career doing the things I loved wasn’t possible and until I was absolutely stripped bare of all the stories I had been telling myself for well, my entire life, really, I couldn’t see that it really, really was.
While I still do enjoy being a writer, it’s photography that I love with a burning, fiery passion and I honestly believe that in many ways, discovering that love brought me back to life. It allowed me to experience the world in new ways, show me that I was good enough and most importantly that I absolutely can live the life I had always dreamed of, albeit a little differently that I ever imagined. So even though I did turn my back on creativity many, many times (I’m sorry I love you), today I get to do the two things that bring me the most happiness every day and that is pretty much the best life I can imagine.
SSC: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from living a life that is not aligned with your soul?
Kirra: Firstly, that it hurts and that’s how you’ll know. Maybe not at the time but eventually, no matter what, living a life that is not aligned with your soul will hurt. Whether it’s being in a career you no longer love, not being creative when, you know, you’re a creative, staying in a relationship with someone for the wrong reasons, whatever it may be for you. The pain though, shows you what’s not working and in turn, what needs to happen so you can become aligned with your soul again. I also learned that it’s never too late to change course and realign. I’ve found that life is always nudging us toward the right path and everything that happens is just part of the adventure, whether we go the long way around (guilty) or not. So don’t worry, if you don’t feel like you’re on the “right” track just yet because in truth you are, it’s just that maybe the path to where you want to go looks different than you thought it would. It always has for me. There are always, always chances to realign, just keep your eyes open, ask yourself the hard questions and take steps every day to get where you want to go.
SSC: Is there ever a time when you struggle to create?
Kirra : Yes! Whenever I’m pushing myself too hard to make’ something work, if I’ve got too much happening and can’t properly focus on the task or if I’m too worried about the perfect outcome (which of course, isn’t a thing). It happens a bit but now I’ve become able to recognise when things aren’t flowing and can turn my attention to something else until I feel ready to tackle the task again. To me, as a very Scorpio-esque Scorpio, feelings and creativity (and feelings and life in general) go hand in hand so if I’m not feeling it, it’s not happening.
SSC: How can we find our flow and encourage more creativity in our daily lives?
Kirra: I usually find my flow when I give up on trying to find it (classic). I think the best plan of attack, which will also encourage more creativity, is to get out of your own way. Whether it’s work or pleasure related, sitting down at a desk and racking your brain for that piece of gold is just not going to work. Give yourself space to be inspired. I highly recommend reading a book (fiction or poetry), walking on the beach and laying on the floor staring at the ceiling while listening to music are pretty good ways for me to find get in the mood to make. Even watching a sunset or laughing with a friend brings on the sparks sometimes. I absolutely love the simple, beautiful things in life and, as corny as it may sound, I think if you just take a little bit of time out, do something you love and forget about what you want to create, the magic will find you. I know there are clients and deadlines and never ending adventures to be had but if you know when projects are due try to give yourself as much time as possible to get things done. You’ve heard it a million times but carve out time for to get inspired. Talk to people, ask questions, drink a margarita and do a little dance if that’s your jam. If nothing creative is happening for you I highly recommend not forcing it, put the work aside until a stroke of genius hits (even a short stint away from the desk will help). Once the creativity comes, use the time wisely and give it everything you’ve got, that’s your flow. .
SSC: Nowadays, what is your greatest metric for success?
Kirra: It’s pretty simple these days (and it took me a whole 32.5 years to get here on a long and bumpy road believe me) BUT to me, it’s about who I am and what I’m contributing to the world. Basically I measure success on the good vibes I’m (hopefully) bringing to the world whether that’s through my work or simply daily interactions with people. It’s an ongoing work in progress for sure. I think though, that if I’m doing creative work that makes me happy and always learning and growing, that energy will filter out to the people around me and maybe have a flow on effect. To me, being able to give back to the world that way is success. Also, having incredible people around me, keeping my eyes open to the tiny little moments that make up a beautiful life and of course, having as much fun as possible. I think that’s a good way to measure success too. Oh and getting to eat cheese whenever you want.
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Bec Van Leeuwen is a truth-seeker, devoted wife and mother, a globe-trotter, a nature lover and a human potential activist. Her mission is to support and inspire awakening women who are on a quest to create real and lasting change in their lives, their communities and the world.