Bridging the Gap

How often do we look wistfully at people living creative, passionate lives and feel that we fall short? We scold ourselves for missing some calling, for straying from that path we saw for ourselves when we were sixteen and starry-eyed. The thing we need to realize is that every time we chastise ourselves we actually set ourselves back a few steps, back away from the people we want to be.

When we shame and scold ourselves for not being creative enough, for neglecting yet again to pick up that pencil or write down that story idea we start making unconscious negative associations for ourselves with creativity. We start remembering the bad feelings when we think about being creative, instead of that rush of vital energy we used to get with a brush in our hands or clay under our nails or a story flowing out under our fingers on the keys. We need to first let go of that expectation that creates the shameful reaction. Then we can start pondering creativity again and remembering those good feelings it used to give us. Then, only then, can we start tiptoeing back down that path. We deserve to take those moments to ourselves, that half hour to get a story outlined on paper or to practice sketching for the first time in what feels like forever. It’s not selfish, you’re not neglecting some better task. This is medicine for our souls, and we need it, thirst for it, without even realizing we thirst.

We must learn to practice our art every day, even if it is just for a few minutes, even if it doesn’t produce “results”. The product we make is not important at this stage, it needs to be about the process. We must be gentle with ourselves, we are re-learning a thing which used to be like breathing. It can be frustrating when it doesn’t come back as easily as it once came. Trust the process, and trust that you are still getting something good out of the simple process of mixing a new color or writing down those character names you always liked. Just doodling is good for the brain, good for the soul, and starts you back down that path. There is no step too small right now.

Process art is so important for young children and it is just as important for adults. Even those who claim not to have an artistic bone in their bodies find themselves smiling and relaxed when given a chance to mess around with finger paints or collage. This is why Zentangles (structured doodling for adults…the inventor is a marketing genius!) are having a moment. Being actively creative is good for us, and practicing some form of creativity every day will ripple through the rest of our lives.

We need to start making those baby steps between the stressed, frazzled people we feel ourselves becoming, and the vital, strong, creative people we so desire to be. And so I ask you, readers, to join us on this journey. Follow us here for weekly challenges and prompts, and submit pictures of your progress or samples of your story. We’ll pick some every week to feature on the blog.

This week, your prompt is a quote taken vastly out of context from Sun magazine (if you don’t know Sun, find it, borrow it, subscribe….it is inspiration incarnate. )

“I once had a friend named Fire.”

Think about that line, wonder what it means, assign it new meaning, and write a short story, start a novel, draw something, sculpt something, whatever your medium, work with that line. Try something new every day this week, relating to these words. At the end of the week, guess what? You’ll have a series! Sounds scary, but look how easy that can be. Ten, fifteen, thirty minutes a day. Start small, wherever you are in life. Carve out that time for yourself.