Monday, August 8, 2016

On My Mind, Day 1: A Spark

Yesterday I was listening to a podcast by Liz Gilbert on what has become my routine commute from Michigan to Ohio. Her podcast is called Magic Lessons. This is the second season of Magic Lessons, in which she explores the topic of creativity. It is a follow up to her book called Big Magic - Creative Living Beyond Fear.

The first season of Magic Lessons came out last year, while I was working on transforming my old home office into a new creative space for my writing. I would listen to her podcasts while I painted every day. Her voice and her energy filled that space. It was the perfect thing to listen to at that time in my life, as I embarked on something new and unknown. And I loved it.

As you can imagine, I was really excited to see that there was a second season of Magic Lessons coming out. The format is very similar to the first season. Liz Gilbert interviews a person who is struggling with a creative project and she also consults with one of her friends who has had some success in that same type of creative arena (writing, painting, photography, film making, etc.) And together they offer advice, insight and encouragement for the person who is struggling.

In the podcast I listened to last night, the person she consulted with was Brandon Stanton, who is a famous photographer and the author of the book Humans of New York. I had never heard of him before, but I was totally captivated by what he had to say about creativity. I would encourage anyone who has a creative spirit to listen to this podcast, but just in case you can't get around to it, what he talked most about was time.

He said that we cannot control the outcome of our creative or artistic endeavor. We cannot determine if people will like it and we cannot assure that we will be able to get paid or make a living at it. The only thing we can control is our own time. How we spend our time is our choice. And if we want to make things, then we need to dedicate time to our creativity, whether it is writing, painting, photography, or any other thing we want to do.

He went on to explain that so many people are waiting to start their creative pursuit until they are "ready" to do it. Being ready might mean having financial stability. It might also mean having the courage or confidence to pursue your art. But his experience has been that you will never be ready. The only thing you can do is to start working on it. He believes that courage and confidence are learned traits. And you learn them from doing.

Brandon Stanton has interviewed thousands of strangers on the streets of New York. And when he started doing those interviews he was afraid. He went on with his work despite his fear, and that is how he gained courage and confidence. His advice to the woman struggling with her project was to dedicate one hour a day to her creative pursuit.

I have been writing my whole life in some way, and yet the idea of putting my writing out there still scares me. What if it isn't good enough? What if no one reads it? What if everyone reads it? What if they don't like it?

It is easy to get lost in a series of chores and "to do" lists for the day and forget what is really important to me. I want to live a creative life. I want to be a writer. I want to put my thoughts and ideas out into the world.

Many times I have ideas that I want to write about in my blog. Often, I even scribble down some notes on paper with the intention of later writing them. But then life happens and I don't write them. Or I start to formulate an idea and I decide it isn't that important or it doesn't have a good enough ending so I just let it go.

This week, I have committed to writing for one hour each day and sharing whatever is on my mind. Normally, this is where I would say that I hope you enjoy reading it. But I can't focus on the outcome. I can only control how I spend my time.

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