Watch the Magic Happen

Last week, I finally began writing the first draft of my next book. I had been thinking a great deal about this writing project for the past few months, and I had several ideas percolating in my head. But during this time, I was never able to actually start the book. It seemed whenever I would sit down at the computer, something else would always need my attention. I would check my emails, write my blogs, make flyers, read the news, feed the dog – there were definitely plenty of distractions. As this kept happening, I was frustrated with myself and my inability to write. But as I examined my feelings a bit more closely, I realized that there was a reason I was procrastinating. I was nervous about my future as a writer. I wondered if perhaps the inspiration for this book wouldn’t come as easily as it did for The Refuge. In that novel, the story flowed through me quite easily. Maybe that wouldn’t again. And what if when I finished this book, it wasn’t as good as the last one? Would that mean I wasn’t meant to be a writer? These fears were holding me back. It was time for me to face them and move forward – no more procrastinating.

So last Monday morning, with my stomach churning, I sat down at my computer and began my first draft. Inspiration quickly took root, and the words flowed through me once again. The characters began to take shape and after a short time, I had a compelling first chapter. It was both exciting and gratifying. I was creating a story once again – making something out of nothing – and I was thrilled. This was my return to the world of words that I loved so much. My fears were unfounded. I was creating again, and it gave me tremendous joy. Writing was what I loved to do, and I was expressing myself through my creativity once more.

This experience helped remind me of the important role creativity plays in our lives. Yet most of the time, we don’t express ourselves in this way. Some of us aren’t sure how to be creative while others simply can’t find the time. Even if we are an artists, writers, or musicians, we can become so immersed in our professions and having to complete certain jobs that we don’t allow ourselves to truly be creative. Projects become tasks that we must complete rather than expressions of our creativity, particularly when we are focused on the end results. We create out of necessity rather than fulfillment. And that’s when our souls begin to wither. However, when we create just to create, that is when we feel truly alive. It’s when the real magic happens.

This was no more apparent to me than when my daughter and I made vision boards together a few days ago. We began by cutting out pictures from a large assortment of magazines. Initially, my daughter was worried she wouldn’t choose the right pictures or that her vision board wouldn’t look good when she was finished. I encouraged her to simply stay in the moment and forget about what her completed vision board would look like. Instead, I urged her to focus on simply choosing whatever pictures or words she was drawn to. There was no right or wrong – it was just about choosing from her heart. She liked this idea and happily began her search. Soon, after leafing through countless magazines, we both had many pictures to choose from. We showed each other our favorites and then began arranging them carefully on our papers. Once our last pictures were finally glued into place, our vision boards were complete, and they looked beautiful. They were truly works of art! Although we had used the same materials, the vision boards were distinctly unique and clearly represented the things we each valued. We had used our creativity to express ourselves, enabling inspiration to be our guide and letting go of the results. It was a fulfilling and freeing experience.

For most of us, letting go of the results is a very challenging part of living creatively. That’s because often we want our creations to turn out perfectly. When we nit-pick our ideas or worry that our products won’t be perfect, it impedes our imaginations and prevents inspiration from flowing through us. We place judgments on our creations, and unfortunately, we are often our own worst critics. Judgments and fears do not encourage creativity. In fact, they do the exact opposite. So, we cannot allow perfectionism to sneak in. We must remember that it’s all about the creative process. It’s about stepping out of the mind and into the heart – letting inspiration be our guide. We need to just enjoy the process and let go. The end result will take care of itself. Once we’re finished, it doesn’t matter if our paintings or drawings or writings are the best ones in the world. What matters is whether we were passionate about what we created and whether we freely expressed ourselves. It’s about having fun and letting our hearts take over. For when we create something out of nothing and utilize our different avenues of creativity, that’s when we feel truly alive.

This week, explore your creativity. What are you passionate about? What types of things do you enjoy doing? Draw pictures with crayons, paint landscapes, make pieces of pottery, carve wooden figurines, write stories, knit scarves, play instruments – do whatever feels good to you. Enjoy the process and release your need to control the outcome. How does it feel? Is it thrilling to create something out of nothing? Take time to create. Let your heart take over. Live out your passion and fully express yourself. Face your fears and release your judgments. Let inspiration be your guide and see how freeing that can be. But remember, part of being creative is living outside the box. Sketch building designs, splash colored paints upon the walls, make dresses out of duct tape, or start your next book. There are no rules when it comes to creativity. And that’s what makes it so much fun! Create just to create and watch the magic happen!

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