A few weeks ago I met up with my friend, the awesome Eager Beaver. She looked at me and said, “So missy, you’re a writer. Where have you been hiding?” (I had recently told her about my blog, and she’d read the whole thing in one sitting.)
My first instinct was to deflect. I’m not a writer. I’m not writing a book. I have a blog. A blog does not a writer make. But instead of saying any of those things, I let her words sink in. I smiled at the compliment – because, in my opinion, Eager Beaver is a great writer. For her to consider me in that category was pretty cool.
Later, I thought more about my initial resistance. Where did that sense of hesitancy and discomfort come from? Why the feeling that, in calling myself a writer, I was somewhat of an imposter?
When I was a child, the response to ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ was always ‘Writer’. As a teenager, it narrowed down to ‘Magazine Writer’. (Anyone remember Sassy mag? Dream job!) There wasn’t much else I really wanted to do.
But over time, I absorbed some negative messages: Writing is competitive. You didn’t go to school for it. You need connections. There’s no money there (unless you’re a bestseller). As a profession, it appeared reserved for a select few. The joy I derived from writing was replaced with pressure, performing, being judged, and getting paid. And so, apart from my diary, I buried my words and carried on with more practical matters.
I think there are many of us who feel our deep creative potential, but don’t know how to access or express it. There is a sense that something profound is missing in our lives; so close, yet so far away.
Even though we know the creative process should be fun and joyful, it is also marked by ambivalence. We may fear that others will judge our creations (and ultimately us). But it’s mostly we who judge ourselves. Our inner critic (ego) is relentless, comparing us to others, measuring us to impossibly high standards, labelling our creations as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
This can lead to self-sabotage, either through procrastination, or saying we don’t have the time/money/knowledge/skill/whatever to pursue our creative endeavours. Or we make the assertion that we just ‘aren’t that creative’. We stop before we even try.
A few months ago, I read Wayne Dyer’s definition of creation as ‘bringing non-being into being’. The truth and simplicity of these words struck me – as though I’d been forever searching for something that was so obvious, and right in front of me all along.
Creativity is totally open-ended. There are no rules. It’s not about putting brush to canvas, or pen to paper. It can be whatever I want it to be, and in any form.
Seth Godin writes: “I don’t believe that you are born to do a certain kind of art, mainly because your genes have no idea what technology is going to be available to you…Our society has reorganized so that the answer to the question ‘where should I do art?’ is now a long booklet, not a simple checklist of a few choices” (Linchpin, p. 77).
I love this notion that our creative potential can express itself with increasing diversity, ever-adapting to social change. The digital world has transformed much in terms of creation and connection. There is not necessarily just one thing we were ‘born to do’, and the worlds of ‘art’ and ‘creativity’ become more accessible to everyone. This refines and expands our definitions of who we are, and what we can create.
Our creative spark never disappears. It sits patiently, latent, watching, waiting to ignite.
Starting this blog was my 21st century response to the timeless creative call within. I want to cultivate this inner fire, not just with writing, but with other pursuits I’ve shied away from. We need to nurture our own possibilities, and support each other’s great creations.
I thank the Eager Beaver for this reminder.