June 1st was a big day for me - I released my first ever concept video! As a writer of songs and a dreamer of dreams, I had long wished to create such a visual of my music. Almost every song I have ever written has invoked pictures in my mind of just what that might look like, and an emotional reaction to how it would feel to watch the story unfold on film. And so, years into a music career that has taken me many different directions and to many diverse places, a dream arrives.
Daydreaming children often get tagged early on as underachievers, spacey, air-headed. I was probably one of those kids, even though I somehow managed to continue to excel in my school work and musical endeavors. But even at a young age, I was aware of “the road less traveled” and quite certain that I would choose that road. Graduating from high school a year early, leaving college after 2 quarters, and an early marriage at 18, followed by several months of mission work, propelled my adult life into the quirky zone, and nothing much has changed in that regard since.
I have run after my dreams … the visions that come by night (for I remember many of my night dreams and they have had substantial truth to speak into my life) and those that come by day. It is a solitary life at times, a thoughtful life, a contemplative life - one that requires long swatches of time be taken up with thinking, meditating, im-ag-in-ing.
It is a life full of wonder, what ifs, and sometimes carries with it a bit of wandering mystified.
Some dreams arrive in a relatively short time. Some take so very long to see brought forth, and for some creatives the fulfillment of their dreams lies seemingly dormant until long after their passing from this life. But they keep a steady eye on the dream. They put one foot in front of the other in its pursuit. And more often than not, they run … in a headlong hurtled chase against the odds!
And the chase itself is a beautiful thing.
Do you have a dream worth chasing? Worth catching? How do you pursue your dream? Share with us in the comments!
This month I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: Overcoming Writer’s Doubt’ held by Positive Writer.” When this topic was announced, it was a no brainer for me. As a writer of prose, poetry, and blogs, and a 20 year career as a songwriter, continuing repetitive doubts nag me on such a regular basis that it’s almost embarrassing. So confessional blogging, here I go!
I am married to a man that has a need to understand things in order to move forward. If I waited to understand my own recurring doubts, I would never write a single line, or note, again, period. Suffice it to say, I do not understand. But I do know - that time and time again nagging doubts creep into my thoughts and life and emotions.
Doubt is, it comes, it goes; but it doesn’t have to conquer! Although it may return like a sinus headache or a chronic allergy, I can refuse to let it rule. As I humbly choose to accept its presence, it immediately loses some of its power over me.
Doubt is here, but I am writing!
I love the use of the hashtag #amwriting on Twitter. It feels like a tiny proclamation of the will to write! And although doubt, like my shadow, may appear on an otherwise beautiful sunny day, my shadow is not me. It is simply a projected image of me that comes and goes depending on the play of light and dark around me. Its appearance is a poor and inaccurate reflection that does not render justice to my entire personage and is certainly not a true reflection of my worth or value.
I have read that doubt is the shadow side of faith. This is true in my writing and artistic career. If I did not believe that I am a writer and a musician (and a good one at that) I honestly do not think I would continue to encounter doubt. Doubt would be unnecessary as a distraction to my life’s work. As it is, I have now had this inner doubt cycle dialog over and over so many times - in spite of my gifts being confirmed and affirmed so loudly and for so long - that it is simply a waste of my energy and time to give continued audience to its rumblings.
Doubts are here - but don’t bother me now - because I #amwriting!
How do you handle doubt when it rears its ugly head in your writing life?
This may sound like a religious title to you, but really it is simply an expression of my own experience of having my creative life resurrected, more than once, into new life! Perhaps this has happened with you as well?
One of the best stories I have involves a time when my music ventures had been put on an indefinite hold. I was in my thirties, and already being a mother to four children, when I won a drawing and got the opportunity to go to a songwriting intensive in Nashville and also into a music studio to record an album! My small town paper was so excited that they did a cover story on it, and soon I was getting invitations to come and perform. A friend and pastor wrote to ask if he could act as promoter and book a tour on the east coast! I said yes, and the rest is history!
Fast forward to a few years ago when health problems took me off the road for awhile. Terribly discouraged at the loss, I’ll admit I truly struggled with what I was to do with myself. Artistic ventures had always been my passion. Not far into this wilderness journey, I found myself infused with ideas for a poetry. prose, photography book trilogy. The thoughts came fast and furious. Words poured out onto the page, some of which I had to dictate as I was temporarily unable to use my hands to type! Today I have self published the book trilogy, and the experience of writing something other than songs has launched small forays into blogging, free lance writing, and pitching poetry to card companies. Who knew?
Which is what I mean by the term resurrection. Just about the time you feel that your creative energies, or ideas, or abilities are gone, faded, fatigued, old, used up, worn out; that is the moment the old dies and after a time something good can sprout up from that soil that has lain fallow for a season, just like in the seasonal cycle of spring! Celebrate!
Share a creative resurrection story with us in our comments! We’d love to hear it!
Where Do We Go From Here?
Since the beginning of the new year we’ve talked of lulls and discouragement in our creativity and also spurts of new energy precipitated by taking some risks and trying new things; or at least of doing things in a fresh way. Where do we go from here?
Like anything in life, most of our creative life is just that …. life. We endure the ups and downs, the cycles of creativity, but most days are simply days when we need to show up to the proverbial drawing board and put our energy into the task, paper, or canvas in front of us. Julia Cameron (author of The Artist’s Way and my favorite writer on such topics) encourages us to “suit up and show up” on a daily basis, thus relying less on our emotional inclinations and more on our persistent, continual pursuit of a creative life.
I once had a producer that liked to dress up to go into the studio to record a new song. (We are talking dressed-up-for-a-musician kind of apparel, not suit and tie.) It did bring a certain energy, a certain excitement, a certain expectation to the start of a new day of making music and art, and I do think it helped us to take ourselves seriously.
That said (and by someone who does indulge in early morning computer time in her pajamas) I try to face each new day with expectancy and energy invested into the projects at hand. Sometimes that is an empty slate, a blank page, a scattered thought. I choose to give time to staring at that page, picking up that guitar, taking time to follow my loose-end thoughts as they ramble, in the hopes of gleaning a focused idea, a plot line, a novel train of thought, a unique melody … and the creative adventure begins!
Sometimes it just takes one tiny step at a time, like baby steps in the movie “What About Bob”. No need for running shoes, bare feet will do! Will you join me in taking small steps toward creativity today? Share your small step ideas with me in the comment section.
*Image Courtesy of graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Starting Out on the Wrong Foot
I can assure you this is a subject I know something about ... whether it is tripping over my own two feet, shoelaces, or curb, putting both feet in my mouth, or just getting up on the proverbial wrong side of the bed, I often set out on the wrong foot. But this year my perspective on this subject is changing.
After a bike accident that left me in horrible back pain, I finally went to a doctor last fall who prescribed physical therapy. The PT discovered that my pelvis was out of place, and after re-aligning it, one of the recommendations was to lead off on stairs with the non-dominant foot (since the injury was on the dominant right side). Easy for her to say! For several weeks I literally had to stop and look at the step in front of me and concentrate. It has become more natural, but certainly by no means rote, even now.
But come the new year, I have discovered something amazing ... not only does my back feel better, but my creative mind is bursting forth with new ideas, new ways to say things, new creative projects to try! Studies show that exercising your brain by doing a task differently is good for us. Gary Small M.D. says “focusing on different techniques … provides a challenge that a repeated exercise may not provide”. I had heard this before and tried it out on some mundane activities like my morning stretches (starting with the non typical side) and using my computer mouse with my left hand post major surgery on my dominant right hand. (I am now ambidextrous with a mouse!) But does it really jumpstart creativity?
Yes you read that correctly - but I did not have another child. Well, actually, maybe I did; brainchildren that is ... I pitched A Christmas Song" to several ops, took some photographs and made a simple lyric video for the holidays, released as a single a song I recorded years ago, wrote a poem or two, worked on editing many more, and released the third book of a poetry.prose.photography trilogy.
And now come a cold wintry January day, I feel just a little blue around the edges. This phenomena happens after periods of productivity. A friend and fellow artist duly warned me about it. I asked about how he felt each time he released a new work and his answer was quick and he took no time to reply, "I get depressed every time a new album comes out."