Even though I have been writing for over twenty-five years, in some ways I feel like a beginner as I prepare to launch this website and blog. In opening myself to a wider world of possibilities, I feel the excitement, the hope, and the fear that accompanies all new beginnings.
I hope you will feel inspired, supported, and challenged by what you read, and alongside that hope hovers my fear that these musings will fail to capture your interest. Of course, I am not alone in this regard. Most creators fight searing feelings of inadequacy even as their passions drive them to risk reinventing themselves and their work again and again.
Feel the urge to procrastinate.
All creative people struggle—with motivation, getting started, keeping going and finishing. For many, the first step is the scariest—we often hate to begin—and we spend a lot of time putting off the moment when we must actually face the blank canvas or empty screen.
For example, instead of sitting down to write this post in the morning as planned, I ended up channeling my pre-writing jitters into organizing the closet. My t-shirts and jeans now sit in neatly stacked, color-coordinated rows. Ask yourself: What are my favorite ways to procrastinate?
Beginnings feel formidable because it is in the act of initiation that we are the most alone and exposed. To begin is to leap into the abyss of the unknown—it is all dark and formless and, worst of all, nothing is guaranteed. In the act of beginning we become temporarily rootless. We must abandon all that went before this present moment: our previous successes and failures, our attachments to who we are, our expectations of how it will all turn out.
Accept inner conflict.
Whenever I begin new work I find I resist that which I crave. I crave the excitement and discovery of a new challenge. At the same time, I resist the exertion required. It is all effort, anticipation, and restlessness—at first.
But because I hunger for creative expression, I have no choice but to leap into action. I leap anyway; I leap even though I am filled with dread. I leap again and again—as my heart and soul compel me in ever-expanding directions. So here I am speaking to you—despite my fear and trembling.
Embrace chaos and anxiety.
As artists, we embrace chaos in order to create form, becoming participants in the sacred act of creation. To originate that which has never existed before is an act that is divine in nature. The process of becoming one with the Great Mystery of creation requires an intensity of emotion that embraces both delight and despair.
On the one hand, beginnings offer the incredible benefits of heightened engagement: we can feel the quickening of the life force within us. Beginnings are especially alive with a vital sense of possibilities. But we also pay a price for the privilege of creation; that price involves making the choice to wrestle with a certain amount of anxiety and self-doubt.
This constructive stress is essential to the creative process. Tension between agony and ecstasy fuels the artistic encounter; we resolve this tension again and again by initiating acts of creation. Thus, we can use emotional chaos to create order—in the form of art.
Tap into your courage, then… make a commitment.
It is impossible to speak about beginnings without considering the role of courage and commitment. It requires enormous courage to make the assertion of self required to begin a new project. To begin is a conscious decision. Each time we make the choice to leap, we become more fully human: we attain more worth and dignity every time we act.
The courage to take that first step is grounded in a deep commitment and unyielding faith in one’s vision—even in the face of ever-present doubts. Commitment and courage are genuine when they appear with doubt, not in spite of doubt. In fact, confidence does not always help the artist. Fear becomes the creator’s friend—so long as you persevere. Working through fear leads to truth and truth will always find it’s way into your work, if you allow it.
Open and surrender.
Ultimately, beginnings are a leap of faith and an act of surrender. We are asked to surrender familiar habits of self-protection and open ourselves to the muse in all her various guises. Along with the breath of inspiration comes fear, frustration, excitement, ecstasy, shame, anger, gratitude . . . all of it.
As creators, we must learn how to channel the tremendous power available to us from our inner lives. To this end, our inner lives need to be lived, not fixed; explored, not ignored.
Feeling stuck or uninspired?
Has procrastination gotten the upper hand? Sometimes all we need is a little jump start. At other times, patterns of avoidance have become so engrained that we need to dive below the surface of our lives to confront our deeper fears.
Let me help you get acquainted with those secret selves that wreak havoc on your creativity. Together we can turn them into a powerful creative team.
♥ Contact me to schedule a 20-minute complimentary phone consultation.
♥ Check out my book about the creative process here.
♥ Read related post: Ten Strategies for Successful Beginnings