Pep Talk for Creators

If you’re anything like me—and it seems most creators are—you have an innate need to create and are happiest when doing so, but it’s a consistent struggle to cultivate conditions and space to create.

Life is always creeping in, like weeds in an overgrown garden that threaten to strangle out the beauty and take over the fertile soil of creativity. Our job is to take back ground and wrestle out the rubble, to continue to uncover and propagate beauty—both for ourselves and others.

Our back garden crowded with Echinacea. One of my favourite places where I get to create beauty.

Like a weedless garden, perfect conditions are an illusion. It will never happen. But you already know that. There will always be handfuls of reasons to put off starting, real or perceived hedges that form barricades too tall to peer over. But the truth is that you just need to begin. Where you are. Right now. Today.

Though ideal conditions are imaginary, the struggle to create is real and you must garner courage and silence the inner critic. Take fear hostage and dump it in the corner for a timeout. Then wade through the weeds, jump the hedge and skip off to a quiet place to create.

What is it that you’ve been putting off?

Is it that novel you’ve been thinking of writing? That painting you have in your mind to create? The garden you’ve been dreaming about designing? What is that one thing you have been imagining? The idea or concept deeply embedded in your soul like a sacred seed yet to be birthed and watered?

Here is what I’d like you to do:

  1. Pick the one thing you’d like to create
  2. Choose a realistic deadline for its completion
  3. Break it down into manageable bits
  4. Schedule time (just like appointments) to do the steps needed to tackle it
  5. Tell someone that you are going to do it
  6. Start it
  7. Keep going
  8. Finish it

That list sounds simple enough, and it is. The hardest part may be #6 followed closely by #8. The only thing standing in the way of starting right now is you… and your thought life. Everything seems more difficult before beginning, but like a garden full of weeds you’re going to need to get dirty in order to unearth beauty.

We excavate all sorts of excuses. Things like: I’m too busy. I’m too tired. I don’t want to get dirty. I need more training. It might not turn out as well as I hope. It’s too big a task. So and so is more skilled at this. I may fail (whatever that means). Not to be insensitive, but who cares?

You create for you and if you’re fortunate, it may impact another soul for good—it usually does. But even if your creation remains between you and God and never sees the light of day, that’s enough.

At my book launch. There were times I wondered if my novel would ever be published.

I believe nothing in life is wasted. Even those things that seem futile or rather unpleasant at the time. These types of uphill climbs help us to grow more sure-footed and create fertile ground for wisdom and character—priceless treasures that no amount of money can buy. But I suspect a few other priceless things will happen if you start and finish your project…

  1. You will gain a sense of pride in its completion
  2. You will learn and improve for the next project
  3. You will have greater confidence from having reached your goal
  4. You will have enjoyed the process
  5. Your creation may bring joy, beauty, and hope to yourself and others

I’m cheering for you—cheering for myself too—in the midst of the weeds and towering hedges. Despite our fears and imperfect forms, I’m encouraging us to start. To stop putting off what we could be doing this moment, or directly after reading this blog!

Schedule time to show up for your craft, to show up for yourself. Pull out the paper, the clay, the canvas. Open up the instrument case, the computer case, or the suitcase. Tell fear it’s off duty… then create!

“…and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.”

Exodus 31:3-5

Unknowns, Courage, and Creativity

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A photo of my author copy the day it arrived in the mail.

Tomorrow, my debut novel launches. 

I’ll be honest, a cocktail of emotions are brewing at the moment. A hearty mixture of excitement, nervousness, and outright fear of failure. It feels rather like I’m about to fling my heart out into the world hopeful it won’t get flattened. It’s always that way when trying something new, don’t you think? Maybe even more so with creative pursuits because a part of you is sewn right in with it.

Yet, where would we be without the kind of courage creating requires? Without those brave first strokes of ink or paint, our bookshelves would be barren and our walls unadorned of colourful masterpieces. There would be no music to make us merry. No architecture to take our breath away. No sculpture to stop us in our tracks. No gardens to still our souls. No chocolate—I go too far! Our beings would be bereft of nourishment without people answering the creative call.

I admire the courage of creators, those who bring life to their ideas despite the naysayers and critics. I applaud those who keep creating, keep trying, and keep overcoming obstacles to do both what they love and what gives them life. I’m inspired by the ones who continue to show up and don’t give up even when their inner critic won’t shut up. I’m grateful to those who pursue their gift as a gift to others.

But it’s not easy. 

As a recovering control freak, unknowns make me uneasy. The blank page—that sacred inhalation of breath before beginning—is crowded with both possibility and nightmarish uncertainty. And right now, I’m on a new precipice of uncertainty and in desperate need of exhaling.

But there’s hope. I’m considering reframing my concept of unknowns. Instead of attaching fear to them, I’m thinking of renaming these unknowns “new firsts” and viewing them as dynamic opportunities to explore something new. 

So let’s say it together: An unknown is a dynamic opportunity to explore something new.

Feel better? I do… for now. Ask me tomorrow when I’m standing at the book launch trying to wax eloquent about my book! I’m slowly easing into my “new first” by only inviting family and friends to the launch. I’m going to take that nervousness I feel toward introducing my book to the world, and all that goes with it, and view it as a dynamic opportunity to explore something new. 

I wonder, do extroverts require this much reflective self-talk? And at what age did I begin to be unsure of creative pursuits? But that’s another blog.

What it always comes down to is a conscious effort to hand over control. It’s not a one time fix. It’s a trust thing, and for me, there’s only one who can be entrusted with it—God. The unknowns, ahem, I mean the dynamic opportunities to explore something new are also an exciting chance to grow closer in my trust journey with my Creator.

So let me expand my definition: An unknown is a dynamic opportunity to explore something new and trust God more fully. 

Boom. There it is!

I hope you’ll join me on this trust journey. Let’s do this!

_______________________________________

  1. Do you have a fear of the unknown?
  2. What creative pursuit have you been putting off for fear of failure?
  3. Breath in, breath out, and begin that sacred journey trusting God every step.

OneMoreTomorrow_Cover_042919
Available September 17th, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4866-1537-7

Print Availability: Chapters/Indigo, Amazon, Word Alive Press, and wherever fine Christian books are sold. 

eBook Availability: Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, and in Adobe PDF format for additional vendors.