“Traveler, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk.” -Poet Antonio Machado
“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” -Stephen King
“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”-Somerset Maugham
“A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession.” -Albert Camus
So do you do what I do, read books that speak to your inner struggles? It’s one of my favorite personal growth tools, so, I don’t know why I’m surprised when I get an insight from a book that metaphorically fell off the shelf and hit me on the head.
Last week I read The War of Art: Break through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. by Steven Pressfield and the week before that I read Daring Greatly by Dr. Brené Brown. Of course, they each spoke to the exact issues I’ve been mulling over for quite some time.
In The War of Art, Pressfield writes about the struggles creatives face when our inner voice calls to us to write that manuscript, design that building or paint that painting but we fail to do it. He calls it resistance, others call it their inner critic, and some call it laziness. Brené Brown suggests that shame plays a big part of our resistance to be our true selves.
Whatever it is, I know exactly what it feels like, because most of my life, I’ve been doing battle with it. At a fairly early age, some part of me knew that if I was going to accomplish anything, I was going to have to learn to love and respect myself first. If I didn’t I’d be just a complaining lump of human misery my entire life. That definitely didn’t feel good. So, learning self-love was the first thing I set out to do.
Along the way I always sought ways to be creative. That just felt like a good place to begin. Fortunately I found my muse, as Pressfield calls our co-creating companion. Her voice was that quiet inner voice that encouraged me to keep trying to discover who I am and why I’m here.
It was the muse’s voice that told me to join my college acting troupe, where I’d learn essential lessons for life; one of the most valuable was self-confidence. Before I became an actress, I felt shame whenever I made any kind of mistake. In the theatre, mistakes happen during a performance, but you go on with the play no matter what. In most cases, the audience doesn’t know you messed up. They’re too involved in the magic of the play. The day I understood that, was a great day!
Keeping a journal is another tool I use. It’s no coincidence that I began keeping a journal at almost the exact same time I began my life in the theatre. They worked in perfect harmony helping me let go of having to be perfect.
Sharing my struggles with my fellow artists has been another wonderful tool. I’ve found that each person has to forge their own way to self-love. Some have a harder time than others. Each artist is on a separate path, but we can support each other along the way.
Now, after all these years, I’m much more comfortable with who I am, and my creative process. I learned one of the great lessons Pressfield expounds upon in his book. To be a professional in any line of work, you have to overcome resistance and commit to doing that work every single day. When I read that section of his book, it was like graduation day. I’d found that path for myself and begun to do it all on my own.
What I’ve learned is that writing every day, gives me a reason to get up in the morning. Now instead of lists running through my head upon waking, I have ideas for what I plan to write that day. I have to say, that’s much nicer than waking up to the list of what I need to accomplish.
Waking up with lists in my head makes me feel anxious. It’s as if some cosmic list keeper is judging me if I don’t accomplish everything I have planned to do that day.
Waking up with ideas for writing projects is comforting. The muse is trusting me to share her insights with the world. I’m grateful for every step of my journey that led me to her.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014