"Never give up!" That's been my voice to myself this entire year and I'm glad I listened. It hasn't been an easy time (hence my absence from blogging) but now the sun is shining, I'm back in shorts, sandals, and T's and the difficult winter days seem a long way behind me.
So here's what I learned while I've been gone:
1. Whether it's your writing, artwork, or latest beaded necklace: You can't sell what you don't submit or offer for sale. Forget about fear or lack of self-confidence. Just get your work out there.
2. Creativity gives you something to do every day, in other words, a life purpose. And that's a beautiful thing when it seems like the clouds will never part and nothing will ever change. You were born to be creative. Keep going, one foot in front of the other. It will change.
3. Creativity can be an important and nourishing spiritual practice. Julia Cameron explains this well in The Artist's Way, one of my favorite books.
4. Showing up to do your work means you set a good example to others, especially those too anxious or afraid to take that first step. Encouraging others helps you to encourage yourself.
5. Creativity is fun--and who doesn't want to have fun? You don't have to be perfect, professional, or even prissy. Just enjoy yourself and make a big mess.
6. Once you embark, and stay on, the creative path, you will meet many, many wonderful people and kindred spirits. For every type of writing, art style, craft, or creative interest your may have, there is a myriad of organizations as well as more informal groups to foster your interest and motivation. Shared creativity can often be the foundation for an entire lifetime of friendships.
7. Following your creative instincts gives you a good excuse to "people watch" and observe the intricacies and wonders of the world with more than mere curiosity. It's all great material--be sure to use it!
8. Taking your creative project(s) with you wherever you go will give you something to do while you're waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
9. And the more you practice while you wait, the better you'll get.
10. At the end of the day, and when you're feeling your most rejected, you can always self-publish, self-represent, and self-express. Take charge of your own work. There is absolutely no need to wait endlessly for permission or approval from the gate-keepers.
11. Creative people are authentic, interesting, and inspiring. What a great group to stay in touch with. Why would you ever quit or leave their company?
12. Finally: When you work on a creative project, you have an excellent reason to take time for yourself. You're allowed to be alone; just you and your book, canvas, or beading board. A luxury none of us should ever take for granted!
Tip of the Day: Giving up on a creative project often has a lot to do with burn-out, the feeling you just can't give another ounce or minute to what you used to love but now avoid at all costs. Burn-out is natural and can be a sign you're doing too much, worrying too much, and aiming too high for near-impossible perfection. Take a creative break: write a romance novel for fun. Paint bunnies. Make children's clothes. But whatever you do: Don't give up!