How to Commit to Your Creativity
As creative people, many of us struggle with commitment. Sure, sometimes the well runs dry and we struggle to generate creative ideas, but more often, we have so many creative ideas that we have difficulty committing to one and getting started. We can get really creative about how we avoid creating—surfing the internet for “research,” checking Facebook to see what our creative friends and colleagues are doing, baking cookies, watching TV, talking on the phone—the list is likely endless.
We trick ourselves into believing that in order to commit to something, we need to feel sure—sure that it will be a “success” (however we define that), sure that we have the skill to carry through on our vision, sure that we’ll complete it, sure that we’ll be pleased with the outcome, sure that others will like it, sure that it will sell, sure that when it’s done we’ll look back on it as worthwhile investment of our time. We want a clear “Yes” or a guarantee. Even though as creative people we have chosen a path that often offers little security, we continue to crave security and certainty, when often these are simply illusions to which we cling.
Creative expression typically offers no guarantees, and sometimes it doesn’t come with a clear yes. We may think we have a clear vision when we finally begin, but as we give it voice or form, we learn that it begins to take its own shape, and often it is somewhat different than how we first envisioned it. That’s one of the beautiful things about creative expression, if we can simply learn to enter this flow and allow our idea to show us the shape that it wants to take. We may judge it as “better” or “worse” than our original vision, depending on a variety of factors that day, including our sense of self-worth, our mood, and how well we have eaten, slept or managed stress that week. Days later, we may feel differently about our creation, depending on the above-mentioned variables or something else that arises.
What would it be like to commit to the exploration of our creative ideas? The truth is that most commitments are followed by imperfect actions, and our thoughts and feelings and therefore our subjective judgment of our work varies from day to day and sometimes from hour to hour. What does it take to commit to our creative expression in light of the fact that life is always changing, our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are always changing, and there are no guarantees about anything?
Imagine beginning your week with making a list of creative ideas that have haunted you for days, weeks, or months that you’ve refused to give voice to and utilizing the process of discernment to rule out some of them and to commit to the one that calls to you the loudest. Imagine doing this with ease, because you’ve learned the skill of managing your own self-doubt and anxiety. Now imagine making a commitment to the one vision that you have chosen and beginning the process of giving it voice or form. Imagine accepting that you will have days that you’re cranking out work that you love, and you’ll have days that you won’t like anything that you’re doing, because that’s the nature of life. Emotions come and go, our feelings of subjective wellness, happiness, and satisfaction come and go, and so too does the flow of our creative energy. We can learn things that we can do to increase our feelings of subjective wellness, attempt to stabilize our moods through mindfulness practice, cognitive behavior therapy, or medication and increase our sense of satisfaction, and we may achieve a greater sense of equilibrium, and still the nature of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors is that they change.
What would it be like to commit to a creative vision about which you felt sure enough—to move toward an idea and begin it, because it calls loudly enough to you, even if there’s no resounding “Yes!” because it allows for deeper exploration of yourself or an area of interest, because you’re tired of how it feels to continually not commit, or because you’re ready to open yourself up to see where your creative expression can take you even if the outcome isn’t perfect? What would it be like to simply go with the flow of change in life, take risks, and remain curious about the outcome?
Make a list of your creative ideas. Begin with ruling out several to shorten the list. See which one you feel most drawn to. What can you do today to commit to giving expression to your idea? If you’re perpetually hung up by a degree of fear, anxiety, or self-doubt that keeps you from moving forward, what can you do today to begin to attempt to get past it?