The creative journey can be better together
No matter how capable we are, the act of creating our inspired work can be fraught with challenges that can sometimes be more easily navigated when we are travelling in the company of others.
I glanced over at the pair of them laughing together and I longed for the same. I’ve always prided myself on my fierce independence, but given what I had just been through, I sure would have appreciated having someone to share my experience with.
I was backpacking through Central America and found myself in a situation where I was alone being taken in a vehicle deep into the jungle, hours from any major town. I had no idea why the driver had diverted from the dirt road onto a dried-up river bed. The tires churned up mud as we headed away from the direction we were supposed to be going. I didn’t speak Spanish and he didn’t speak English. He was gesticulating wildly and clearly upset, but I couldn’t make sense of what he was trying to communicate. My heart was pounding. I was slightly terrified. I was on my way to a small seaside village on the outer peninsula of the country and until then had been joyfully anticipating arriving to vast sandy beaches and soft ocean swells in which to swim. In that moment, I just wanted to call the whole thing off and go home.
Later than expected, and a little worse for wear, I did reach my destination. After I had settled into my room, I went out into the shaded courtyard and reclined on one of the lounge chairs to let my adrenaline subside. My breathing eventually started to deepen. That was when I noticed the other two travellers leaning into each other, telling stories, and clutching their stomachs laughing. I would have enjoyed celebrating my triumphant, albeit frazzled, arrival with another kindred spirit.
The journey of bringing our inspired work to life may not necessarily be as precarious, though often, it feels like it is.
In our society, we are so dependent upon our work as a source of income that the success of our creative endeavours is closely linked to our primal survival mechanisms. Some decisions can feel as significant as life or death. And when things don’t go according to plan, it can send us spiralling into fear. It takes a daring spirit to embark on a solo venture to create something new. Every person is quite capable of doing so, we do it every day by just being alive, however, the process of creating our inspired work has its own unique perils.
To be in creation mode is a whole different gear than just coasting. The conditions for creating require what comedian-writer John Cleese calls a “time-space oasis”. Without it, we never really settle into the creative process. Our ideas don’t have a place to fully develop. Because it is uncomfortable to live in the space of not-yet-realized, instead of allowing ourselves to feel the pang of uncertainty, we tend to seek comfort in the familiar. We find something else “more important” to do such as water the plants or sort the paperclips.
Mired in doubt
When we are new at testing the waters of our own creative abilities, we can get easily discouraged by any small setback. We cry “failure” and then determine ourselves to be inadequate. However, our disappointment is only a reflection of us not giving ourselves permission to be in the unfolding. As leadership expert Rosabeth Kanter says, “Everything looks like failure in the middle.” More often than not, what we lack is not ability, but patience. There is no shortcut to creating. It requires a trial and error approach. It is to be expected that we won’t get it right the first time. Or the tenth.
Lack of accountability
In creating our own work, we have the freedom to set our own schedule. However, when we think no one is watching, we tend to default into our patterns of least resistance (some refer to this as being “lazy”). We engage in behaviours that we know don’t serve us like spending hours streaming the latest episodes of our favourite shows. However, even if others are watching, it doesn’t actually matter because the only person we need be accountable to is ourselves. It’s our time we are squandering. And we know it.
Stuck at the barriers
As we move through the creative process, inevitably we are going to bump up against barriers – both those out in the world and those within ourselves. If we spend all of our energy fixating on the barriers, we can get bogged down to the point of standstill. But in actuality, the barriers are not the real problems. They are simply masking deeper fears, such as the fear of judgement, that we are not letting ourselves fully acknowledge.
Struggle of doing it all alone
There is a learning curve to creating our own work. It can feel like an endless uphill climb having to figure everything out for the first time. Some of us like to wear the struggle as a badge of honour, however, there’s no benefit to struggle. There’s no net gain. If we can tap into the wisdom of others who are also pioneering the way and share stories to make all of our journeys a little easier, why wouldn’t we do that?
A community for visionary creators
For all of the above reasons, and more, I created the VISIONARY CREATORS CONNECTIVE to help support those who are doing the daring thing of bringing their work to life. Even though we are all having slightly different adventures, we are on similar paths. When we come together and share our experiences, it feels less daunting. We can laugh about the mishaps, shed a tear about the failures, and heartily celebrate the successes. Within this community, we can:
- Have dedicated time and space to commit to our creative projects
- Build creative confidence by taking small, continual steps even in the face of setbacks
- Make public declarations of our intent as a way to be accountable, not to others, but to ourselves
- Have a safe place to name our fears so that the barriers will give way and allow us to continue on our journey
- Progress with more ease by sharing resources and watching out for each other along the way
To this day, I’m not sure why we took that detour into the jungle. I’m guessing there was a very good reason. I can’t help but think that if I had been travelling with others, it would have been a grand adventure instead of a scary ride.
If you choose to join me now in this community, we can make the way for each other a little bit easier and a lot more fun. I will have the chance to tell you the story about being stung by a scorpion on my behind. It is more painful than you might imagine. Until then, I hope you continue on your adventure of bringing your work to life. And if you ever want someone to share your story with so you can have a good laugh, we are here.