Here, slightly edited, is that message. I wrote it for writers, but it applies to any creative pursuit. Keep it handy for whenever you need a little creative pick-me-up. Enjoy!
As you know, I called this class a lab because it’s all about experimenting, and that goes beyond class time. We talked a bit about this last night in terms of needing a few extra minutes for her intuition to kick in. You may notice other ways that things do/don’t work well for you right out of the box.If you only take ONE thing from this email, here’s what I hope it’ll be:
The only thing that’s not allowed in this class at all is beating up on yourself (or someone else, not that you would!).
It’s also the only guaranteed way to fail, because it will stop you in your tracks.
Therefore: as long as you keep going, and you’re not beating up on yourself, you’re doing it right. Your “right” may not look like someone else’s “right”—but that’s okay. It only has to work for you.
It’s okay to keep your expectations super-low. In fact, it’s helpful! This is why I have suggested deliberately writing something bad. (It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true—if you thought you had to write a Great Work of Literature, would you even start?)
You may also have noticed in the past two weeks that we’ve all found things to love in everything people have shared on the call—even when it’s prefaced with, “I don’t know what this is” or “I don’t know where it came from” or “It’s not very good, but…”
I’m sure there are some people who think I say “I love that!” to everything (not actually true!), but the thing is, what I really love is when people jump off the proverbial cliff and do the silly thing and have the courage to share it no matter what they think of it—and even more so when they’re willing to be vulnerable and admit what they’re telling themselves. Not only do they get to feel good about what they’ve done, it’s also really liberating—for everyone. And there’s usually more magic in what they’ve produced than they realized.
It’s like that Marianne Williamson quote: “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Saying, “Hey, I did this weird thing and I have no idea what it is and it annoyed me and it doesn’t make any sense and it probably sucks, but what the heck—I’ll read it to you,” is SO BRAVE!! It takes phenomenal guts! We don’t give ourselves enough credit for that, even when we really deserve it. (Hint: Give yourself some credit right now! Yes, you! You deserve it!)
But more than that, it gives the people who are listening the chance to say, “Ooh, I really loved that,” or “I laughed so hard,” or “Your piece sent a chill up my spine,” or “That’s not bad at all!” which in turn pushes all of the demons that scream, “YOU SUCK WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS GO WATCH TV INSTEAD” back into the woodwork where they belong—for all of us. It liberates everyone.
There are no critics worse than the ones that live inside our own heads—and the surest sign that you’re on the right track is that they start trying to stop you.
Hey, creative soul! Want some company, camaraderie, and support on your creative journey? Of course you do! Join us at The Blend: A Coffeehouse for Writers and Artists. It’s free, fun, and will help keep your creative mojo rolling. Support for NaNoWriMo coming in November!
Also published on Medium.