I’ve been sitting in front of my computer screen for the past two days, racking my brain for post ideas. I kept hoping inspiration would strike in time to meet my self-imposed deadline, and that the perfect words would simply flow from my fingers like magic. After staring at the blank page for long enough to admit defeat, I decided to listen to one of my favorite podcasts, The Lively Show, in hopes that it might spark my creativity. The guest being interviewed was Elizabeth Gilbert, acclaimed author of Eat Pray Love, among many other titles. She said something that plucked at my heart strings and really forced me to think. She said:
“Inspiration owes you absolutely nothing, other than the pleasure of its company. Honor your creativity so much and love your creativity so much that you do not place upon it the demand to provide for your entire life. That is too much of a burden to put on such an ephemeral thing…keep this thing sacrosanct. And make sure you are diligently paying attention to unfolding your creativity however and wherever you can.”
I do not always pay my creativity the respect it deserves. Instead, I often bully it into a corner and force it to do things it simply doesn’t want to. Elizabeth goes on to talk about how she didn’t quit her day job until after she’d published her fourth best-selling book. Even when it looked world like she was obviously successful by the world’s standards, she didn’t want to destroy her creativity by insisting it provide.
My generation seems to think we need to strike out on our own to follow our passion, or else we’re not really living up to our full potential. Everyone and their mom is becoming an entrepreneur, struggling to make their hobby pay the bills! Don’t chase the statement Do what you love so hard and fast that you let your work become anxiety producing.
Elizabeth comments on the countless artists she’s watched destroy their creativity because they insist it isn’t real unless it makes ends meet. And when it doesn’t, they become enraged and embittered, and eventually quit their creativity all together. Putting your entire heart and soul into something doesn’t mean you have to risk ruining everything else in the process.
Freshman year of college, I was a Fine Art major. I’ve always enjoyed making art, so naturally I thought I should study it. But eighteen year old Micah didn’t realize that making art for fun and making art for a living are two entirely different things. Of course you should study something you enjoy to an extent, but make sure that enjoyment can withstand the harsh reality of hard work and criticism. In other words, are you okay if a little bit of your enjoyment might be sacrificed in the process to arrive at the final result? For me, being a successful artist wasn’t worth it if it meant my genuine love of art even slightly diminished along the way. I decided to keep art as a sacred hobby, something that can certainly influence my other endeavors, but isn’t relied upon to earn an A in class!
This is not to say deadlines and structure are unimportant- they certainly are! Nothing would ever get done if we didn’t just power through once in a while. Just remember to keep some perspective when you feel frustrated, and allow yourself to pursue other things you enjoy, even if they aren’t traditionally labeled ‘creative’. Who knows, perhaps inspiration is lying silently in wait, ready to pounce when you least expect it. As much as we’d like it to, creativity doesn’t always perform on cue. It is a precious gift that graces us with its presence every so often. This podcast was a much needed reminder to protect my creativity like I would my own child, even if that means only publishing a blog post twice a week instead of three times. I am blessed with ample amounts of creativity, so it’s my job to live a life that cultivates and cares for it!
Question of the Day
Have you ever put so much pressure on one of your creative outlets that it no longer brought you pleasure?