Begin.  Ireland, September 2010.

Blogging every day means that some days you really have to dig to find something worth writing about – and I guess that’s kind of the whole point.  Creative practice means coming to the page, the guitar, the easel every day no matter what, and writing, strumming, painting through all the crap, all the garbage that is No Good.  We have to throw all that No Good stuff out there, give it expression, let it fly.  It’s intimidating, and sometimes downright terrifying, but the alternative is worse.

The alternative is not writing, strumming, painting anything at all because what’s going to come out will be No Good.  I have fallen into this creative trap so many times in my life it’s ridiculous.  It’s the curse of perfectionism, and one of the most lethal killers of creativity that there is.

I spoke about this last summer while in Germany, when I was reading Twyla Tharp’s excellent book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life. She reminded me that creativity is not about having a sudden, perfect spark of creation.  It’s about the hard work of showing up every day to your medium, working out all the No Good material, engaging in regular habitual practice so that on the day that sudden, perfect inspiration hits you, you won’t be caught with your pants down and no pen or paper within a mile of you.

I’m always amazed at what comes up when I decide to engage the No Good and get it out.  The other day I decided to start working on a writing project, and immediately all the old familiar fears came clambering up the front of me like goblins up a sheer cliff, poking their crooked noses in my face and reminding me, rather abrasively I might add, that everything I put down on the page will be No Good anyway and why even start?  I brushed them off and started writing…they climbed up my back instead and sat snickering on my shoulder as I wrote.

I wrote anyway.  I wrote a bunch of stuff that was, indeed, No Good.  But I also discovered some interesting ideas, some flashes of light that I want to follow further, seeds that may grow into something miraculous.  I’ll never know unless I keep showing up, right?

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” – William Hutchinson Murray (often attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

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