Being authentic

I have been struggling a bit with using my voice and bring authentic. With being my genuine self, no filter and really speaking my mind. I am usually a very disruptive person in my thinking. I have a lot big questions about life and living, about the status quo and why the sky is blue. A lot of my writing has been about expressing these but lately I have been struggling with censoring myself.

But now many times I write stuff then I delete or edit until it becomes meaningless. I write and stop midway because it seems no one could possibly care about this thing or I don’t think I am being cool enough in how I am saying things.

It got so bad that I felt paralysed by all this self-critiquing and stopped writting. I literally couldn’t speak through my writing any more. No words flowing through my mouth or through my fingers but plenty in my heart. Creatively speaking, I lost my voice. Totally!

I think if you doubt yourself long enough over time you start to view your work as though you were the consumer of it and you become your biggest critic. To the extent where before you even publish a piece you have taken it apart in your head, judged it and told yourself it does not meet “the standard”. The standard usually being a ridiculous one that you have created for yourself in your heard. A standard which no one could ever reasonably live up to.

While in this cycle of creating and deleting, and creating and editing I woke up and decided to just write. Because there is something I have been really grappling with that’s been really sour in my heart. I wrote something I hope is the first of really raw and authentic writings that I will do in this next phase of my journey of my life and just allow myself to create whatever the Big Magic sends my way. I will stop personalizing my ideas and treat the ideas swirling in my head as sent by the universe, sent to me because I have what it takes to bring them to life.

I read Elizabeth Gilbert‘s book Big Magic last year and really deeply loved how she sees ideas as being all around us and constantly looking for a body to inhibit, a creative to live in who will be able to bring them to life. She talks about how sometimes ideas come to us and we refuse to pay attention to them, we refuse to put in the work so they leave and go find another person. The example she gives of a book she procrastinated to release ended being written by another person – exactly the same story line and characters – even though she and this other writer had never met before then, has happened to me before so I buy it completely. She left this other book midway because life and Eat Love Pray happened next thing you know the idea looked for another person and was the exact same book born!

Keep your eyes open. Listen. Follow your curiosity. Ideas are constantly trying to get our attention. Let them know you are available – Elizabeth Gilbert

I like this idea of ideas as living entities and if they come to you and do not use them they go but if you allow them to use you you create amazing things. This thinking is starting to help me not personalise my work and get over this creative paralysis.

  1. When you think of your creativity as born of yourself, as you. It is too easy to critique and rubbish it. You will tell yourself, “And just the hell do you think you are? How dare you create ANYTHING? Who do you think will want to read/hear/use that?”.
  2. When you think of an idea as something that came to you and what you produce as the execution of that idea. Then you can think of it as big magic and not critique it as much. It becomes something the universe sent to you because you looked like a good custodian and now its out there for the world to do with as it pleases. If it resonates with somebody then great, the big magic worked. If it doesn’t then great too, maybe something will come of it in the future or maybe it won’t but thats fine too because you did part.

Depersonalising your work in this way has been helpful for me in getting back to writting again. Many creatives have this problem with producing consistently so I thought to share in case my approach to dealing with it may be helpful to others.

If writing is your thing. Just write.
If music is your thing. Just sing.
If art is your thing. Poetry. Dance. Sculpture. Whatever your creative talent is.
Just do it.
Those ideas buzzing in your head, the things you are encountering, experiences you are going through its all inspiration sent your way because there is a place in the world for it.

Give the ideas that come to you a home. The more ideas you act upon, the more will come to you.

Big Magic

One of the best things I did this August, maybe the only good thing really, was to read this book, Big Magic. I was looking for something to help me out of the funk I was in and this sure did it. If you are a creative looking for something to get you back into the zone, this is it!!!

First off, let me say don’t be put off by the size of the book. Big Magic is easy reading. Its structured in short, quirky, to the point chapters. You will find yourself thumping through the pages like your life depends on it and the conversational tone in which its written will have you feeling like you are sitting across the table from Elizabeth Gilbert herself exchanging wisdom over a cup of hot chocolate. Its that good!

And what is Big Magic you may ask. It is the divine relationship between creativity and you – the mystery of how inspiration comes to us humans and works with us to create.

Here’s the lessons I learnt about Big Magic.

  1. We all have it, yes even you:

As a creative it is easy when you are in a funk to think you have lost it, or maybe you didn’t have it in the first place – you know “that thing”. The world has us thinking there are a select few born with the gift of creativity and that you either have it or you don’t, right. But we are all have extraordinary little treasures within us and the universe is just waiting for us to put in the time it takes to create and bring them forth. Everyone has something.

2. It takes a special kind of bravery:

Its a vulnerable thing, to be a creative. To make something, anything and put it out there for the whole world to see. Be it a blog post like this one, a whole book, a photograph, a painting, whatever your creativity brings forth – allowing yourself to make it and then present it to the world takes bravery. Often we create in order for our product to be likes, praised, applauded, awarded, bought – and when that doesn’t happen it can be paralyzing for the creator. Do not let success in this sense be your guide. Create for the sake of creating. Create because its what you do. Create because it brings you joy. Let your creativity be its own reward. That way if people show up for you and love your work – great! And if they do not or hate it – also great!

3. Don’t sit around waiting for divine inspiration:

We have all heard tales of creatives who got some kind of divine inspiration for their greatest works. The musicians who dream the lyrics of their number 1 hits. The writers who just feel the words of their next bestseller flowing through their pen. Yes, that sometimes happens but not always – let it find you working at finding ideas and inspiration for your next piece of work. Keep it moving, whether ideas appear magically or not.

This last one hit me particularly hard because for years my writting had always come easy to me. Ideas and words flowed easily, inspiration was everywhere it seemed. I had always lived “in the zone” you may say. And then suddenly, I didn’t. So I wrote and shelved what must be a a hundred or more pieces and a whole manuscript too! I was waiting for the next inspired post before I blogged again, waiting for inspiration before publishing that book, before sharing my thoughts on social media even.

Big Magic doesn’t often come to the idle though because it cannot be sure you will answer the call to create – it loves the ones diligently working because it knows your engine is warm and you are ready to go if inspiration whispers in your ear.

If I was to summarize the biggest lesson in Big Magic is this, create whatever that’s in your heart to create, do it for the love of it, do not wait until its perfect, the process is its own reward.

NB: When I am not blogging here I share my thoughts and experiences on Facebook and Instagram

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