I’ve been listening to an annoying little story. It goes something like this: I can’t write when I don’t have a story to tell.
I’ve been listening to this voice for a while now. While it might hold some water, it’s not entirely true. I have evidence. I wrote blog posts for almost seven years before I wrote my first novel. And before blogging, I always wrote in a journal (still do and always will because … it’s like breathing for me).
Don’t get me wrong, I believe it’s natural for creative people enter into fallow seasons. It happens. And it’s not a terrible thing. Sometimes, and in my case, the best and most special work can come after a long season of nothingness. What I’m saying is that even in the valley of shadows, the writer can still write. It doesn’t have to be anything grandiose or win gold stars; the very act of putting words on the paper (or on the screen) is enough. I forgot this because of the story I’d been repeating. It wasn’t until I picked up my journal again and wrote a love letter to my writing (thank you for the advice Heather Demetrios) that I realized how much I missed it. With gentle baby steps, I’m walking my way back. I even signed up for a class under the tutelage of one of my favorite authors (thank you Nancy Peacock for the opportunity).
I still don’t have my next story, but I can sense some seedlings starting to sprout. This is a delicate time — the precious moments before life takes root. Instead of forcing this story to grow, I’m being gentle with it — and myself. I’m doing other things to nurture my creativity. Knitting. Journaling. Playing my guitar. Walking with my dog. Managing my mom’s Etsy shop (she’s an artist with fabric!). Step studies. Bible studies. Gratitude lists.
This morning I did a writing exercise about lessons I’ve learned on my creative journey. The exercise was inspiring (it sparked this blog post), so I decided I’d list some lessons below. You never know who might need a little encouragement on their journey. Lord knows I need a lot of it!
Lessons I’ve Learned on My Creative Journey (so far…)
- Don’t worry about what other people think
- Listen to your heart and keep cultivating a deeper understanding of what you love
- Don’t compare your journey to other peoples’ journey (Lord, help me with this one please)
- Find a few honest, trustworthy people to confide in, but don’t drive them crazy!
- Don’t give advice to people who don’t want it
- Don’t waste your time trying to be perfect
- Get the words down and fix it later
- Take writing classes
- Read books on writing
- Read lots and lots of books and keep a running list of the ones you love the most
- Find a mentor early on — preferably one that doesn’t cost thousands of dollars
- Financial success doesn’t have to be the end goal
- Financial success doesn’t always last
- You will never please everyone so don’t bother trying
- Don’t worry about the bad reviews — but do look for the speck of truth that could help your next book
- Don’t be afraid to go deep with your character and their story (Help me with this one too, please!)
- Don’t worry about feeling like a failure; feelings change — a lot
- Rejection SUCKS, but it’s no excuse to hide your work or quit writing
- Someone will always be better than you, more successful, have more readers, more money …
- Don’t believe the hype people display on social media and curb your own hype
- Don’t focus on what will sell, but what you would want to read
- When you’re stuck, don’t force a solution — do something entirely different to get your creativity flowing
- Calm down and don’t rush the ending
- You will fail, you will succeed — what matters most is your attitude
- Most importantly — just keep writing no matter what
Hope this encourages someone out there!