Body-Mind-Spirit - Inspiration for Writers, Dreamers, and Seekers of Health & Happiness
A few weeks ago at FedEx, I spotted a book near the checkout counter: Dare to Doodle. I picked it up, flipped through the pages, and thought, This is so cool! I was about to buy it when another voice kicked in and said, You suck at drawing.
The book’s subtitle was Creative Exercises for a Healthy Noodle! The words “Brain Games” in all caps graced its cover. This would be fun, I thought. But the “I suck” voice hissed, Don’t be silly. I put the book down, left the store, and drove home.
Over the next couple days I couldn’t get the book out of my mind. This is ridiculous, I told myself. I don’t have to be good at drawing to doodle. I’ve always loved art projects, despite my lack of drawing skills. I used to love doodling in my journals.
I thought about my students. Many are gifted and skilled writers. But new writers enroll in my writing circles, too, along with people who don’t even consider themselves writers. I never ask, “Do you suck at writing?” I wouldn’t think to question anyone’s skills, which develop over time. What I look for is interest and enthusiasm.
The word “enthusiasm” means “with God.” When we’re enthusiastic, we’re energized and inspired to take action. This was how I felt about the doodle book. It lit me up.
The problem was I had failed to take my own advice—the words I tell clients and students all the time: Trust your inner “yes.”
I returned to FedEx and bought the book.
As soon as I got home with it, I dove in. I drew a red mask on the Mona Lisa. I put a blue eye between two windows on a house facade. I drew hearts on a dollar bill, and wrote the words “This again?” in a thought bubble above a dog’s head looking down into his bowl.
Ten minutes in, however, on another page, half a dozen stars reminded me of gold stars from grade school, triggering my “I suck at this” voice. I actually felt threatened, as if I was doing something wrong and would get into trouble.
I recognized that feeling, which I had as a young writer struggling to get my truth on the page.
Creativity requires us to chillax so we can lay ourselves bare and follow our curiosity. It invites us not to take ourselves too seriously, and reminds us that creativity is fun.
Sure, creativity is also unpredictable and pushes you out of your comfort zone. But that’s the point. Get used to that feeling. Welcome it.
Just because you think you suck at something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. We live in a demanding, achievement-oriented culture, but see if you can set that aside when you do creative work. Think of it as “me” time. Play!
Yesterday one of my students who’s been participating in my writing circles on and off (mostly on) for eight years sent me an old poem I wrote in 2006. He found it while cleaning out his desk. I’d forgotten this doodle-inspired poem.
I of the Hurricane
the storm rages.
I recognize distress signals:
indigestion, stomach ache,
pain in my back.
I doodle in my journal.
One image stands out:
a simple pencil drawing
of a person alone
with one eye
crying jagged tears.
The head is mishmash,
lines at cross-purposes.
But lower down,
centered on the page,
the frantically laid-down lead,
a heart—one solid nugget on legs--
strolls toward a control panel
and radios the call
Creative expression at its best bypasses the thinking mind, which spews excuses and may convince you that you shouldn’t do the creative work you’re called to do. Don’t listen. Turn to your heart for guidance.
To dare means to have the courage (heart) to do something.
So much has to do with your point of view—how you’re thinking about a given circumstance or situation.
As I created the doodle that accompanies this post, I thought the zigzag lines behind the human figure were malevolent forces representing my negative and fearful thoughts, which were crushing me against a brick wall. But later, after I’d finished, it struck me that the zigzag lines behind the figure might be benevolent forces, helping me clear my brick walls. After seeing it from this perspective, I refused to go back to my old interpretation. Why should any of us stoke the flames of negative thinking?
The form your creativity takes is less important than your willingness to show up for yourself. We are creative beings. Saying “yes” to our creativity reaffirms our lives.
P.S. My fall writing circles begin Sept. 27. The Wednesday session is full, but I have space in the Monday and Thursday groups.
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