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

When I Die

Twenty-six springs have passed since we moved into our neighbourhood. I can’t say how long before we arrived, but even back then an elderly couple lived at the corner house across the street. Every spring their garden came alive and apart from winter, you’d be sure to find them planting, puttering, and tending their blooming menagerie.

This spring, as every other, their flowers are once again pushing toward their prolific show. The green beginnings of new life poke out from the soil declaring winter’s end. You wouldn’t know it to look at the garden, but something is different; one of the caretakers is no longer there. The man sits alone in that sacred space the two of them once shared. The flowers silently about their cheery work won’t tell you that late last summer, the woman passed away in her beloved garden as her family gathered to celebrate her birthday.

Though shockingly sad and sudden, a small space in me can’t help but think that’s just the very place she would have picked; departing from this world on the same day she arrived several decades apart in the place she most loved. Now her garden lives on—a flowering legacy for others. All the beauty she painstakingly sowed now being enjoyed by every passerby.

I think of my life. Will I sow flowers? Will others be left better than I found them? Will the things I’ve done make some small, meaningful impact for good? Will beauty poke out of the dark crevices of others’ lives because of some small deposit dropped into their soul? Perhaps a kind word or deed, an encouragement or offered shoulder in the storm.

I know it’s not just about kindnesses. It’s about choices. One thought in particular nestles into the fabric of everyone’s thoughts, especially as the latter years settle in: where will I go after this? Many prefer to push away thoughts of death, but I’d rather face them head-on. Eternity awaits, and though I don’t morbidly live for my last breath, I should live each day as if it were my last.

I’m sure my flower-loving neighbour had no warning of the sudden heart attack she would experience that day. In this way, I too cannot predict how many days I’m gifted with or which moment will be my last. But I want to be ready: better prepared than I’ve ever been for anything in my life.

When I leave behind the shell I was given to move me through this world—the one that enabled me to speak and write out thoughts, to reach out with hands to comfort, to walk to the places I was meant to tread—my spirit will live forever. That’s where the choice comes in. We each have a decision to make, and it affects where we spend eternity.

It’s not complicated. At least, it wasn’t meant to be. There’s only one decision to make, and I can make it well ahead of time. And I have. I chose Jesus. I chose to accept his free gift of life and love he purchased for me (and you) on the cross. I admitted my sin, asked for forgiveness, and now live each day assured that when my time comes I’m saved from hell, and will be with him forever in heaven. There’s not a thing I can do to assure heaven except to believe and receive Jesus. I cannot take anything with me save my faith in him.

I’m sure heaven’s gardens are glorious. It’s my hope we’ll dance there together among the flowers!

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

~ John 14:6

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

~ Revelation 21:4

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  1. If tomorrow were your last day on earth, are you certain where you would spend eternity?
  2. If not, a simple, heartfelt prayer can change that. There is no formula. Just speak to God and tell him you are sorry for the wrongs that you have done, that you believe Jesus died for them and paid the price so you can spend eternity with him in heaven. Ask for his forgiveness. Move forward with his Holy Spirit as your guide.
  3. The best way to learn about God is to read the Bible, find a Christ-centered church, and surround yourself with other Christ-followers.