Remember the three P’s of writing: Passion, Patience, and Persistence? I’ve lived by these P’s for thirty years, but last night I thought of five more, which, like the famous writing P’s, not only apply to all creative expression, but to life itself, the most creative venture of all!
Permission: Saying “Yes” to your creative urges is foundational. I tell my students and clients the need to say “Yes” to their creative expression is like the need to bathe—it has to be done on a regular basis or else one stinks. At least I feel this way. When I’m not creating I’m cranky because I’m denying deep instincts, which are informed by my Soul, my essence. If you’re feeling the urge to express your creativity, don’t question it. Don’t suppress it. Don’t limit or fool yourself by thinking you don’t have enough time, money, or talent. You have no idea how vast and rich you are—how much is possible. Allowing and honoring what needs to come forward is the only way to glimpse your genius. I keep the words “PERMISSION GRANTED” prominently displayed in my office. Don’t wait for somebody else to grant you permission—give it to yourself!
Play: Creative expression is fun. Have at it! Splash paint on canvas. Dance in your backyard. Grab a musical instrument and improvise. Scribble words that make no sense. Toss rules out the window. If you’ve forgotten what play feels like, ask your inner child to remind you, or relax and hang out with your kids or somebody else’s kids. Laugh, slow down, and be silly. It may also help to make a list of fun activities you enjoy and post it where you’ll see it. Do at least one fun thing a day. This will lighten your mood and generate playful energy. But the most important thing is not to ask anything of your creative play. Forget outcomes and end results. Suspend judgment. Just play! If it’s not fun, you’re not playing.
Process: Everybody’s creative approach is unique. Find what works for you. Go inside. Trust your instincts. What works today may be useless tomorrow. Your process is a living thing, allow it to grow and change. Let it be who it is. Listen to others describe their creative process, but don’t assume what works for them will work for you. Honor impulses and inner urgings. There is no wrong way to create. Accept accidents and serendipitous situations. What you perceive as intrusions or distractions may be brilliant ideas dressed in beggar’s rags. Take everything in. Your whole life is grist for your creative mill.
Perspective: My mantra, which hails from the University of Santa Monica, is: There’s no such thing as failure—only opportunities for growth. I love thinking of my life as a great, big classroom filled with lessons. Recently I received an email with a signature message saying the email had been sent from a mobile device, so “please don’t take brevity or typos personally.” Then the message went on to say, “—for that matter, don’t take anything personally—unless you want to suffer.” This is easier said than done, but it’s an attitude worth cultivating. Freeing ourselves from the words, actions, and opinions of others liberates creativity.
Pros: For the past seven months I’ve been working with a life coach and a writing coach, and my life has moved forward by leaps and bounds. Never before have I felt so held and supported, so eager, happy, and free to follow my bliss. I cannot overstate the value professional mentorship, guidance, accountability, and support provide. Knowing another pro is in my corner, advising me, cheering me on, and wiping my brow, gives me the gumption, not to fight, but to embrace whatever opponents or obstacles come my way, and see them for what they really are: opportunities to become stronger and wiser.
Most coaches have coaches. Experience is the best teacher. In addition to my own writing and teaching, I offer transformational life and writing coaching. I work with non-writers as well as writers of all genres, including film and TV. If you’d like help moving forward on your creative path, contact me.
Last week I was nervous about a talk I had to give. The morning of the talk I woke up with a stomachache. Halfway through my early morning meditation it occurred to me that my worry and anxiety over the talk meant I was identifying with my ego, not my Spirit. As soon as this awareness kicked in, my stomachache went away. I held my hand over my belly, the emotional center of our bodies, but also the place from which we make decisions, and summoned Spirit. What one thing do you want me to do today? I asked. I figured Spirit was going to say give a great talk. But instead, one word came: Connect.
In order for me to connect with others I knew I had to first connect with myself. Not my ego self, which is like a fearful child who needs attention and worries about measuring up. No, I needed to connect with my Spirit self, which is like a wise grandparent who is never in a hurry. My Spirit is gentle, loving, kind and knows exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Spirit had helped arrange this talk. Spirit knew I was giving it to connect with others, for their good and also for my own. Everything was perfect.
In her book, The Answer is Simple . . . Love Yourself, Live Your Spirit! Sonia Choquette talks about identifying with and living from one’s Spirit versus ego. She says it’s easy to tell which is which. If you’re feeling tense, afraid, nervous, anxious, pressured, or urgent, you’re identified with your ego. If you’re feeling loving, calm, peaceful, and relaxed, you’re identified with Spirit. Our feelings will always let us know which master we’re following—ego or Spirit.
But if you’re like me, you know it can sometimes be difficult to know what you’re feeling. It’s not uncommon for me to move through a busy day successfully completing one task after another, while unaware of what’s taking place inside my mind and body. Many days I’m uptight and anxious without realizing it.
This is why I meditate: to cultivate awareness, slow down, practice compassion, and connect with Spirit. When I start my day this way there’s a decent chance I’ll remember to check in with Spirit throughout the day. When I don’t, my pace is fast and I’m scattered and unaware. Ego loves this. Ego shows up in cowboy boots, shouts, “Yee haw,” and throws its lasso my way, rounding up all my chaos—and I’m caught in its lariat—until I realize I’m not a helpless calf, but a divine being, and it’s up to me to remember. Again and again.