Specifically, about how many writers I know are finding it hard to be as creative as they usually are due to current events...which is why I wanted to share this story today.
When I started writing my spoken word poetry collection earlier this year, I had this constant nagging feeling that due to everything going on, it wasn't right for me to finish it.
It was about heartbreak - something that just didn't seem important enough compared to everything else that was going on in the world then, and now...like, not even in the top ten.
I tried to Google the issue, as if Google would give me some kind of magical measuring stick or some perfect timeline for when things would feel stable again. I typed in, "Is my work important right now?" which, as smart as Google is, it had no clear answer for.
I suppose what I was looking for was permission to complete it.
As a black, female, member of the LGBT community, there's almost always something I could be angry about if I wanted to be. There are countless injustices happening; and so many people, voiceless, disempowered and suffering. But there comes a time where most people will realise that we can't always carry all of this pain on our shoulders, because frankly, it is exhausting.
I know that for me personally, it could put me and my art into a box that I don't necessarily want to be in; contributing to a stereotype that most people tune out unless it's presented to them in different ways these days. I feel that sometimes it is more powerful to be a role model and to lead by example, in order to get into a position where you will actually be listened to, instead of ranting at a lower level forever and playing into people's hands.
So what I realised was that yes, there were more important things I could be protest about or champion or fight for in that moment -but to even have the energy to take on those battles, you sometimes have to create for yourself first; create things that sets your soul on fire, and that make you happy, or you'll burn out from all the stress (and that helps no one).
It's okay to create something even if the only reason you have to do it is because your heart tells you to.
Do it simply because your heart tells you to, because in doing so, you will open up your greatest revelations. And here's another great thing about all this:
You simply don't know how "important" your work might actually become until you do it.
Heartbreak might not seem all that important to write about in relation to other issues that were going on at the time in the world. Not even in the top #10. But at the time, when I was going through it? And to someone who is currently going through it right now? It is #1: the most important issue in the world.
I would never go up to someone and minimise their pain, or compare it to other issues that I believed were more important...so I have vowed not to do that to myself, or my art. I recognise now that importance is a completely subjective concept, and there is room for it all. I also recognised that:
"Not important enough" is simply another translation of the fear of actually creating something -- the fear of wasting time and failing.
But who knows where it could take you though if just this one time you ignored those fears that prevent you from even trying, and actually completed it? Because your work only has the potential to be worth anything if you, y'know, actually make it.
Most artists will tell you that it was the things they throw together in frustration that often turn out to become one their most popular pieces, treasured and loved by their fans.
It's not really your duty to analyse the thing you're being told to create by the Universe. Ridiculous or serious, fiction or non, art is a bold statement in the world about your personal freedom, about the way you are choosing to express yourself, and about your power to speak out.
So, this is me, giving you permission to create the art you want.
Your latest work might be the single piece of work that changes your life.
You literally, simply don't know...but this is your permission to try.
Everything you love today was once nothing but a doubtful idea in the mind of a neurotic creator.
I've never in the history of my life, ever, wanted to climb a mountain.
That is, until I saw a bold, brave, beautiful woman rockin' it in a fitness magazine the other day. I stared mouth agape at the picture of her, completely confident and smiling into my soul, and suddenly I heard a voice inside myself whisper: "I need to climb a mountain."
Now of course, that's ridiculous, isn't it? Climbing a mountain wouldn't make me any happier, more beautiful, or confident. (At least, I don't think it would). It certainly wouldn't allow be to BE that beautiful confident woman within the pages of this glossy magazine. So why? What was this compulsion to be someone I'm not and where did it come from?
If you've ever aimed to do anything in your life, you will know this feeling.
You're chugging along nicely with your own ideas and goals, when suddenly a wild new concept appears that completely shakes your world upside down. And now all you can think about is that new concept, your ideas be damned.
Sometimes it's because the new idea looks so much better than you feel yours could ever be.
Sometimes it's because it ignites your insecurities and makes you want to take the easy way out of the emotional pain.
Other times, it's because the person seems so confident and sure of themselves and their new idea that you start to think it must be the right thing.
But when this happens, you need to take a good hard look at what exactly it is you're jealous of. 99.9% of the time, it's not the actual "thing". It's the confidence surrounding the person and their thing.
You don't necessarily want to do the "thing", but you want to feel the feeling.
Another example of this is when I see dancers, I get instantly jealous and want to become a dancer. When in reality, I have no passion to do that, I'd probably suck at it, and it isn't my calling. But I'm jealous because what they do looks so fun and I can see their best selves shining through their moves.
Now, stop worrying about what other people are doing and focus on cultivating YOUR thing to provide the happiness that you want. That kind of happiness won't come from you putting your own destiny off in lieu of looking for an alternative or easier option that totally isn't suited to you.
If there are no physical or physiological reasons for your lack of creative work, then all it takes is a mindset shift.
You've got to take matters into your own hands and remind yourself, “I have the power to change this.”
If you’re not living an intentional life, you’re living an unintentional one.Your entire lifestyle is a choice you’re making (or not making) every single day. As Lewis Howes once said:
@@“Every moment you get to choose how you show up in the world, and how the world shows up to you.”@@
So here is the question you need to meditate on if you're not making the impact you want to during the day:
How do I need to prepare?
How do I need to prepare? How do I need to prepare for this work? How do I need to prepare for this day?
Close your computer.
Grab a pen.
Take five minutes to write down the answers to those questions, and you will turn your whole day around. Because often that's all it takes to stop the endless chatter in your mind; the overwhelm, the confusion and despair.
Just one step at a time, one simple practice at a time, that's all it takes.
Being intentional is all about, well…the intention. There needs to be an expectation and intention behind every day. Without that, it’s too easy to fall back into the mediocre life that has already carved out for you.
Stop letting the worries rattle around in your head and get it all out on paper. Make a plan.
When you're comparing yourself to others, you're receiving a direct message from The Universe. So it's time for you to start listening to your emotions.
When we compare ourselves or envy others, it's actually not for the reasons we assume. It's actually not because they have better looks, more talent, or more money.
We compare ourselves to others when we feel they have something more that we believe is out of reach for us.
We're really admiring the intangibles. Their courage, their perseverance, their willingness to show up in the world. And we're wondering to ourselves whether we have what it takes to be like them, to exhibit those qualities for ourselves.
The #wholewriter within you knows that these qualities are inside you...but you're just not allowing yourself to use them. That's why seeing these qualities in others is becoming a negative experience.
Comparison is a reflection of what you are not allowing yourself to do.
@@Comparison is a reflection of what you are not allowing yourself to do.@@
You can become more skilled in any area of expertise if you make the conscious decision to do so. There's nothing stopping you - except, of course, the fear you might fail. Or the worry that it might be hard. Or the struggle because right now, your favourite TV show is on.
Every day, in every moment, this is how you actively discourage yourself from living your dreams.
I know you want it, but you're afraid. Which is why it's much easier to hate on others, or throw a big ol' pity party for yourself, instead of facing up to the fact that to be like this person you admire, something has to change.
The only difference between you and them is the choices they've made.
The Universe is challenging you to face up to your biggest fears.
It's challenging you start giving yourself more chances.
It's challenging you to become the person others compare themselves to.
There's nothing more tempting than giving up a project half-way through...
You don't have to tell me. I have about a million unfinished works that may never see the light of day, ever. I have the ones I'm uncaring about getting finished, but then I have the big ones that I feel gut-wrenchingly guilty about because of how much I believe they would benefit and entertain the world.
I'm guessing the project you're talking about now is one of those projects. Unfortunately, no matter what project it is, it takes the same amount of work to complete - but here's what you need to remember when you've been in a project for so long the magic has faded (and how to get it back).
You’re not in the honeymoon period anymore, and that's okay.
It wasn't always that way, but things change. Sooner or later you have to accept the new circumstances so you can adapt, and start making changes.
The grass isn't greener on the other side; the grass is greener where you water it.
I don't know who first said that quote, but it's stuck with me since I first heard it. Even if you feel you're struggling, it doesn't mean it's time to look for a new, shinier project and throw all your hard work away. Things can get better if you put the effort into making it happen.
You believed in yourself and the project once, never forget that.
It’s impossible to finish a creative work without belief in yourself, but it's possible to restore it. Just because you're not at the bright-eyed infatuation stage of your creative work doesn't mean that where you are right now isn't okay.
It doesn't mean you can't make it better.
It doesn't mean you're not exactly where you're supposed to be.