The Creative Life

Why You Need to Stop Hiding Your Creativity

For way too long, creativity took second place to my ‘real’ life. Like most of you reading this, there was a family to raise, relationships to nurture and a living to make.

A year ago I was devouring  Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly” and decided to embrace her concept of “Wholeheartedness” as a way to live. I had no idea at the time it would lead me to a completely new life by the ocean in Nova Scotia. 

Continue reading “Why You Need to Stop Hiding Your Creativity”

The Sketchbook

The Road Not Travelled…Yet

Just when you think you've figured it out...
Just when you think you’ve figured it out…

Some days feel so far from where I meant to be at this time in my life. I dream of creative exploration but spend too much time navigating the ‘real world’. I took a wrong turn somewhere. A Personal GPS would be handy right now.

“Recalculating.”

As a child growing up in a home where mental illness existed I learned early on that anything that took attention from my parent made me “bad”. To answer a creative calling was the most suspect thing of all. “Useless. Selfish indulgence.” Something to fit in after the ‘real’ work was done. Which, of course seldom happened.

Claiming my creative voice was first and foremost a declaration of independance.

Regardless of who we are and any early conditioning we experienced, we have to be  very brave to make art. By its nature, art is a different way to see things and different always challenges someone, somewhere 

Personal and unique are essential qualities of any creative process and its product.  But art exposes the heart of the artist. 

And that’s scary.  To see the venom some people can spew I only have to explore social media. It takes an extremely courageous heart to step into the line of fire totally exposed.

I do lots of creative things. Painting, knitting, quilting, collage; but it’s in writing that I find the edges of my fear.  Art needs to skate that edge.

I have two novels partially completed exploring topics that frightened me away from the work. I put the work away fearful of what “they” would say. My heart felt too tender for blunt blows. 

Am I brave enough to go looking for that missed turn?

Suddenly, possible regret for the road not traveled is more frightening than anything “they” might say.

The Creative Life

Writing (and Creating) With the Door Closed

Key in LockIn his fascinating book “On Writing” Stephen King recommends that we write twice. First, write with the door closed. This is for-your-eyes-only writing.  You are the only arbiter of what stays and what goes. Then only after you are satisfied with what you’ve created should you open the door and invite the world in.

His advice holds a world of truth for all artists and writers.

For a number of years I went on retreat with writing friends. Our goal was to carve out space in busy lives and create new material. We would write in the mornings and then share our work in the afternoon, inviting comment and feedback.

On the surface it sounds like a good idea. After all, we were all writers and friends. We were all taking the same risk by sharing fresh new work. Our babies.  We understood the rawness of that work and commented accordingly.

A lot of respect and care went into the feedback. For the most part, we avoided re-writing each other’s work. But along the way I discovered that, during creative incubation, we need to trust our truth.

This was really driven home when my writer friends suggested one of my pieces needed  serious changes, almost a complete re-write. It just didn’t work for them.

However, for me, it felt complete. With some trepidation (spiced with a smidge of defiance) I made the radical decision to ignore my friends. I simply polished it and sent it out to a literary magazine. Not only was it published but the editor wrote and told me it needed no changes whatsoever. She was thrilled with it. So was I!

Feedback comes from personal opinion and we each have our vision. Bringing your work out too early introduces an element of doubt in what you’ve created when it’s still barely formed. Instead finding your way, it short-circuits the creative process.

Once I had feedback I stopped exploring the possibilities and assumed “they” had the answer. It was “creation by committee”.

I keep my writing to myself now until it’s polished, primped and primed, ready to go out in public. At that point, I’m clear on my story and what I want it to say. I’ve answered my own questions about the work.

Feedback from a trusted source at this point feels qualitatively different. Its about logic flaws or where I appear to be in love with fancy metaphor. What the feedback doesn’t do is change my voice or the basic story.

I’ve also come to realize that much of that new work I created on retreat never came to anything. Some of it never should, of course. But there are other pieces that deserve more.

However the “juice” was gone. By bringing them out too early I no longer felt the need to write them. I often tell my writing clients not to talk about a story because it takes away that pressure to write it. I know from experience how true that is.

So now I write with the door firmly closed. I highly recommend it to you as well.

Thanks, Stephen.

The Creative Life

Walking Barefoot

Walking Barefoot if about Getting RealNot too long ago, I got very clear about how important it is to express my creativity.

I use various forms of visual art and writing to explore ideas and dreams that would otherwise get buried by the busy-ness of daily life.

Creative output is an expression of my spirituality because it allows me to listen to my soul’s language. It’s as vital to me as oxygen.

Without it,  a piece of who I am is missing.

Since one of my focus words for 2014 is ‘Authenticity” I am choosing to live more art-fully each day. I’m even shifting the focus  my coaching to attract clients who want to make a living while they follow their bliss.

Still, it’s a constant battle. Life gets busy and crowded with too many “shoulds’. I stop making my creative explorations a priority, always thinking I’ll get right back to them. I fool myself into thinking I am actually doing something because I plan to but when I look at the results….

Then I wake up one day and realize I am lonely for my creative self. Again. 

When I was a kid, I longed for black patent leather shoes with tiny straps with every fiber of my being.

My mother, however bought me a pair of awful brown oxfords. You know the kind. Sturdy, practical and butt ugly. (Why do mothers do these things to their kids?)

I wore them for about a week, feeling self-conscious and drab. They were stiff and uncomfortable and I hated them with all of my ten year old heart. So I did the only thing any sane kid would do.

I took them to the creek down the road and set them afloat. The last I saw of them they were headed for Waterman’s Lake. For all I know they’re still there today, terrorizing fishermen who have the misfortune of hooking one.

Now, you need to know that my mother was not a woman to trifle with and I don’t remember what transpired when I arrived home barefoot. (Obviously I survived since I’m here to tell the tale.) The fact I don’t remember tells me the important part of this story for me was taking action on something I was passionate about.

My creative heart  has been wearing those tight brown oxfords again.

It’s time to fling them off and wiggle my toes on bare earth again. I want to walk barefoot through my dreams.

Want to join me?