Many people believe they have to wait for inspiration to be creative, but what if I told you… your creativity is waiting on you?
Creativity plays a complex role in our lives. It’s not just limited to the arts. It’s a critical component to our success in all areas of life. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your profession is, you use your creative mind to construct your world.
It’s an under acknowledged part of your brain’s capability. We often dismiss it when we say, “Oh I’m not a creative person.” But look at your childhood. You finger painted on white butcher paper and built sand castles at the shore. We are all creative. We were born that way. You likely gave up on it when you stopped believing in your magical life that creativity built.It’s time to restore faith in your ability to create and lead an inspired life.
Inspiration lies dormant until it’s ignited
A creative calling is like building a fire. You have to lay down the paper and kindling, then the wood on top. But, the fire doesn’t light itself. You have to be the one to strike the match. The flame sometimes fizzles out, and you might have to strike the match two or three times. Keep going. Just strike again.
This is the perfect metaphor for writing, or doing anything creative. You feel the calling, but that alone won’t start the fire. Yet, a strategy for taking action will.
My late husband, David Peckinpah, was a shining example of a writer who created no matter what. He was a television and movie writer. I marveled at his ability to put his “butt in the chair” (as Stephen Pressfield says in “The War of Art”). He wrote even when he didn’t feel like it, his dedication never waivered.
David had a lot on the line with his writing. Besides supporting a family, he had a cast and crew depending on him. No script, no show, no paycheck.
And so he wrote every day for 29 years.
But, it wasn’t always the obligation that drove him. It was his sheer love of writing. Day after day he tapped into the greatest resource for unending ideas, inspired action. He’d come home wearing his “writer’s high.” His face glowed with the expression of creative fulfillment.
He never gave himself a back-up plan or a way out. He committed to a career in writing and stuck with it until the day he died.
Did I ever love writing like that? I wasn’t sure. Although I helped David develop story lines and characters for all his shows, I had doubts about my ability to write on my own.
Isn’t it time to step out of your creative hiding place?
One day, after the birth of my daughter, I boldly stepped out of my creative hiding place because I had no choice. Just like David, I suddenly had a lot on the line.
My daughter was born with a facial defect, and it was my call to action. Children fear what they don’t understand. I wanted to infuse Julianne with confidence, and I believed stories had the power to do that. Some people say that kind of drive is your “why.” I call it my sacred contract as her mother to protect her; and that was stronger than my fear of writing on my own.
Five years later Julianne entered kindergarten with a book I had written. It was her very own fairytale and it made her feel special. It gave her the words to change the way her classmates saw her beauty. And it made a difference.
I wrote two more books after that… but I still didn’t feel like a writer. In fact, I would never tell people I was. If I called myself a writer, it meant I had to work at it instead of just doing it when I felt inspired. I’d avoid people asking, “when is your next book coming out?” I didn’t have an answer. I was waiting for the match to strike.
In 2013 I began my fourth book. It was different this time. I didn’t wait for inspiration. I listened to my calling instead. The book was there inside of me, taunting me to come out. I’d have fleeting ideas and sentences bombarding my daily thoughts. The calling was definitely there, wanting to be coaxed, encouraged, and written.
But, this time, I decided to craft a strategy. In the years between book 3 and the new one in the wings, I had studied the power of mindset. I started thinking of my writing as non-negotiable. I scheduled writing time in my calendar just like it was my job. I committed to the work process between 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm every night. There were times when situations interfered, but I stuck to the schedule as best I could. It was a brand new contract with myself, demanding a whole new me.
I added one more component… a ritual. There’s a reason people use rituals… because it works. Rituals create patterns of behavior to trigger certain outcomes.
My ritual began with making an afternoon latte, lighting a candle, and playing music. Then, I’d close my eyes and ask to be open to words flowing. That’s it. Simple. And it worked.
I began my book in February of 2013. I had a published copy of my book in hand, in February 2014, one year exactly from when I first began.
That year taught me creativity is as much about the commitment as it is the inspiration. Inspiration alone does not make your creativity happen. It’s the commitment to your creativity that fuels strikes the match.
I wasn’t waiting for the inspiration; the inspiration was waiting on me. In that year, I discovered a feeling I’d longed for… my own “writer’s high.”
I don’t know why it took so long to commit to myself as a writer, over 2 decades! I often think of Jeff Goins, a powerful blogger and author who said to a friend, “I just want to be a writer.” His friend replied, “You are a writer, you just have to write!”
That was the difference! Although I’d published 3 other books, I never felt like a writer because my inspiration wasn’t holding me accountable. I needed a commitment to write.
“Commitment” is telling your mind you will do something, then developing a plan
What is commitment? It is telling your mind you WILL do it, then developing a strategic plan. It’s committing to a time, and a place even when you don’t feel like it. It’s starting with a ritual, and then doing it. It’s declaring yourself a writer, an artist, or creative business professional. And then acting like one.
I’ve finally hit my stride and proudly wear my badge as “writer.” I am a writer, and I do write… every single day. In fact, I’m almost done with my fifth book. All it takes is a commitment, a ritual, and putting my “butt in the chair,” and I enter the world of the creative high.
Get ready for the creative “high”
Is there something you have a strong desire to create in your life? Can you make it real by developing a strategy, making a commitment and creating a ritual to stoke the fire? It’s time to launch your own creative potential. Just close your eyes and imagine how great it feels, then do it. And along the way, don’t be surprised when your own “creative high” emerges. It’s the best feeling in the world.
Originally published at medium.com