Category Archives: Motivation
A couple of my writer friends and I have ongoing discussions about faith, spirituality, craft and the nature of creative life. We find common ground on our exploration of spirituality, how we approach our work, and the questions, i.e., chiefly – where does creative work come from and does the artist belong to the work or the work to the artist. Sometimes, though, we dig down deeper, especially when we’re struggling and hit the root of purpose. Why are we writers? What’s the point? Why do we pick ourselves (and each other) up after we get knocked down and return to the work, more determined, more decisive, unwilling to stop? What drives us? Or are we the ones being driven? Why do we write?
I became a writer to give people a voice. That’s still my purpose, though inspiring and nurturing the human spirit is equally important to me now. While the roots of writing trace back into my childhood, the need to make a difference goes even further. Writing, to me, has always served a utilitarian purpose. I’ve never been a writer’s writer, never been in love with the so-called glamour of the writing life. Never written just for the sake of writing. I’m not even that good of a writer. What I hope to be, though, is good at communicating to the human spirit.
Because that’s what matters to me. That’s my calling.
But the question, “does creative work need a purpose to be worth it” is an intriguing one. And I’m inclined to say, yes, it does. Why? Because creative work is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for those seeking fame, fortune or ease. (Though success can provide all three, it’s still never about that.) No, creative work is generative work. It’s a delicate balance between seeing into new worlds and leading others into those worlds. And keeping your sanity and your balance in between. It’s heart-work and soul-work and that type of work means that you hold a responsibility toward humanity far beyond what you imagine.
No, it’s not life and death work – at least not to the world at large. But it is often life and death work for the human spirit. Because we deal in spiritual realms. Disagree? Where does your creative work come from? It’s not you. You’re a channel. A conduit. And when you’re most deeply engaged in the creative process, you’re in another realm. You can feel that, right? Time ceases to exist. Energy flows. Something is at work, leading you. And it’s glorious and thrilling and beautiful.
It’s also the easy part.
Then comes the deep work. The re-tilling, the toiling, the weeding, the watering, the praying for sun to shine instead of rain, and rain to fall instead of sun, the covering from frost (no I’m not talking about gardening), the showing to master gardeners who sometimes think it should be like their work and all the work that has come before it, because, well, what to do with something new that doesn’t look familiar…and being present, being present, being present to it and to yourself so neither you nor the work withers away. It’s a form of spiritual wrestling that engages the deepest parts of your being, and forces you to grow stronger or die. You need a solid bedrock of purpose to stay rooted and withstand the spiritual forces of the work. I’m not saying your purpose needs to be altruistic, but I am saying it better be something that means something to you. Because it will take every once of strength, trust and constant decision-making between fear and faith to keep yourself convinced it’s worth it.
Very few are called to be creators. Most people are consumers, critiques and fosterers of status quo. They embrace new creations when they are handed to them conveniently and have no idea of the amount of spiritual and psychic energy that went forth into the creating of it. (Something we should be mindful of as technology hands us new gadgets, right? People make those.) It all comes from within. And to stand up to the challenges of being that channel requires that we are utterly convicted of our purpose and that our purpose matters.
How do you find your purpose?
You look within. You ponder what matters to you. What disturbs you. What you want to see more of in the world. (Always fight for something, not against.) You pray to your spirit and you listen for answers. And you remember that purpose doesn’t have to be an “answer.” It can be a “question.”
Art is a funny thing, writing, too – in that the process depends so much on our beliefs about ourselves. Other work is pretty straightforward (most of the time).
But in art, we revise, we seek critique, we revise again. We leave the work open to multiple voices, insights, guidance. Some necessary. Some not. And in the process of wanting to make it better, we risk losing what the art wanted to be in the first place. As First Trustees of our artistic work, it’s our job to translate that original vision from concept given to us to what appears on the page or canvas. And to do that successfully, we have to return again and again to the Vision.
What does the work want to be? Why does it want to exist? What is its purpose? What do you want it to do?
The answers to those become your measuring stick. A powerful tool to gauge whether or not suggested changes are right for your work.
Another equally powerful question to ask is: of all the artists and writers in the world, why did the work choose you?
You are the only one who can bring yourself to the work. And without you, the work would not be your version of it. There’s a reason that you are the one chosen to do the work. And that can be hard to hold onto, but oh, so necessary.
What much of this comes down to is faith.
Faith in your calling. Faith in yourself. Faith in the work.
And courage. We hear that word throughout our lives; seldom run into real opportunities to use it.
Courage is acting in spite of fear. For artists and writers, it’s owning our authority over our work. Being willing to trust our decisions. And being willing to be different.
So hold on to your vision and your calling. Get clear on the vision and move from there.
Good question, isn’t it?
We writers and artists can get so focused on our creative goals, making money and working to manifest big dreams that we forget: art isn’t life and death.
We’re supposed to be enjoying this. And if we’re not, then we need to change how we relate to our work.
A writer known as Marco Dante (@marcodante) wrote honestly in a blog post about the frustration we’ve all felt when trying to put our work out into a marketplace fraught with subjective opinions, the changing whims of consumer trends and the heart-wrenching personal nature of rejection, hope, determination, and self-doubt.
Whether or not we generate our income from our creative lives, it does our souls good to step back and ask: am I enjoying this? (By joy, I mean an overall happiness that comes from the entirety of the process. Because we all have tedious parts of the process we don’t enjoy, but must complete.) If we’re not enjoying our creative work, what can we do to get that joy back? What needs to change?
It’s usually a matter of mentally re-framing our perspective. That, and taking a good look around us to remember what truly matters in our lives. Health, family, love, freedom, well-being, abundance, the very fact that we get to spend so much time on our creative pursuits. And, ultimately, the fact that as Beings of Source, we’re here to enjoy life and bless others as we do so.
It may be a change in the type of work we do, the medium, the genre, the outcomes we experience. We may need a different type of art to reinvigorate us or provide new challenges.
So, if you’re not having fun, find out why and decide to change what needs changing. Let go of the weight that has accumulated on you and start fresh.
And if your art just isn’t for you anymore, take a break or quit. This is your life, your story. You get to write it.
We talk a lot about fear. Doubt. Wondering if we can achieve the great big dreams we set out to achieve. As artists, we’re inclined to discuss these issues, because they are part of the fabric of creative work. And don’t get me wrong, fear serves a purpose. If nothing else, it reminds us that what we are attempting to do has importance – to us and to the world. If it didn’t, then they’d be no reason to fear failing to do it, would there?
Yes, fear is a driver of development – in the artist and in the work.
But where we often stop short is in being bold.
I mean the kind of bold that flings you out into an unknown universe where you either fly or fall. Or learn to fly as you’re falling.
Bold. Taking on more than logic deems sensible.
Bold. Taking a chance on the fact that you just might be more than you’ve ever been.
Bold. Imagining. Saying yes. Doing.
Stepping up in a self-confidence that’s not arrogant, but built on a solid understanding that you embody the Universe in every cell of your being. That ‘worth’ is a man-made measurement, because everything present in this world carries the spark of the Universe at its core. How can anything not be worthy? Worthy compared to what?
Bold in believing we are enough. More than enough. Powerful.
Bold in owning our work, our emotions, our results.
Fortune favors the bold. Why? Because “the competition” is much, much less than we lead ourselves to believe. Because few people are bold enough to step up and deliver excellence. Because few people actually think they can. And then act like it.
Fortune favors the bold because the human spirit recognizes itself in boldness.
So be bold. And rise above the crowd.
Dear Struggling Artist,
You write of your anxiety, your fears, your uncertainty about your calling. Wondering if the artistic life is even right for you, or realistic, or doomed to be one of constant struggle. You ask if it’s worth it, if you should heed the advice of all those who “love” you and just get a normal job, with normal pay, “job security” – as they call it.
You wonder if you can do this thing. If you’ve done it once, or twice, or ten times, you wonder if you can do it again. Whether you’re good enough (what is enough, anyway?) and if you’ll have what it takes. You want to know if you can count on this life to sustain you and worry that there’s just too little chance of “making it” or “losing it.” And so your heart beats a little faster with fear. You lie awake at night worrying about making ends meet, distrusting yourself. You see everyone elses’ work and theirs all looks so much better, younger, in vogue, desirable. You look at what you haven’t accomplished, your unfinished drafts, the auditions you couldn’t bring yourself to do, the ones you lost, the successes you’ve had, the next great big vision that seems so very far from reach or reality (which is it?) – and you wonder if it’s worth it.
Shouldn’t it get easier the longer you practice your craft? Shouldn’t you be in a better place by now? Shouldn’t you be beyond lying in bed worrying about the same damn things?
No. You shouldn’t. And you know why?
Because you’re human. Because the artistic life is a journey and the cold hard truth is you never “arrive.”
All the success in your field will never equate to security. It’s the nature of life – expansion. It’s the nature of art.
There is no top of the mountain. You. just. keep. climbing.
So, in response, dear struggling artist, I would tell you: keep going. Pause and breathe when you must, but don’t stop. Keep climbing. Keep going back to the keyboard, the audition, the next script, the next possibility. Keep letting yourself dream. Keep believing. Keep trusting that the Universe hasn’t brought you this far just to drop you now.
Because it hasn’t. You’re here, right where you are, no matter where you are – beginning, middle, end of a career- for a reason. You’re exactly where you are “meant” to be.
So breathe. Relax. Trust. You’re called to be an artist. To live this life as a creator. Don’t get to the end of your life wishing you’d taken more chances, believed in yourself more, changed your thoughts about what is possible.
Keep climbing. You’re worth it.