Excerpt 1 • Wild Ideas: Creativity from the Inside Out

[In the creative process…] only a person who has a confident place to stand internally can survive wearying periods of rejection and censure… —Eric Maisel

On a creative journey, we eventually reach a point where we must stand alone. We can’t necessarily count on others to usher us past the many thresholds that must be crossed in the process of birthing our ideas. Even when we do find people who take an interest in our work, they may not always have our best interests at heart or understand our vision. If we want to step out and negotiate a place for ourselves in the marketplace, we must first find a place to stand inside ourselves.

“Make good thy standing place” was my father’s oft repeated admonition. Of all the teachings he strove to impart to his children, this one idea has had the greatest impact on my consciousness and has inspired much of my struggle for independence and self-realization.

My Father’s words have weight.
My Father’s words buttress me again and again during dark times, bleak times, lonely times… so many times I am beyond consolation. Even if he can’t come, my father’s words find me; hold me, hoist me—even against my will. STAND UP.

If you have invested a lot of yourself in your creative work, it’s hard not to find yourself emotionally unraveling when a promising opportunity doesn’t work out as expected. But it’s almost impossible to risk stepping out and not meet with a certain amount of indifference, rejection, or criticism. A sensitive creator can, all too easily, take it much too much to heart: If they aren’t interested, if they don’t like my work, there must be something really wrong with my work… or, with me.

We cannot control these kind of thoughts or feelings, but we can, we must, recognize the intoxicating allure of becoming a victim, and learn to manage our wounded pride more artfully.

Standing Place is a point of internal stability. It is at once a ground of being and—a “refuge of knowingness.”

  • Knowing who I am.
  • Knowing that I matter.
  • Knowing what matters.
  • Knowing I have enough of what it takes.
  • Knowing my bottom line: what I will and won’t do.

When we feel most discouraged, the emotional resilience and internal clarity that characterize Standing Place help to hold a creator together by pulling focus: Who am I? What do I want to achieve?  Drawing from this inner strength is how creators find the love, energy, and commitment to give and give, and give some more, on behalf of what matters most. As inevitable setbacks occur, Standing Place supports us securely: we recover; we learn; we regroup; we step out and try again. …

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It’s been years since I found myself sneaking off in the middle of the day to read a book … the only other book about the creative process that drew me in this way was Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott.
  —Debbie Gray, graphic designer