I just recently read the book “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote “Eat Pray Love.”
Without giving everything away because it would be a very good opportunity to read the book, let me just say that I’ve learned more about creativity, fear, success, originality versus authenticity, “dark nights of the soul” and about university art degrees from her than anyone else. What made me sit up and had many “Aha” moments was when she revealed that she kept her day jobs even when she had already signed a contract with a publisher, wrote and released three books. I thought to myself, “Wow, really?” Because nothing is guaranteed in this life, she said. Unlike most professions where there’s certainty and a well-carved path that if you follow it and work hard you will succeed, the same rules don’t quite apply for those doing creative endeavors.
As soon as I read that, all the experiences from when I was in my 20s immediately flashed back through my mind. It then dawned on me that what I did that time was totally wrong. She describes perfectly that most creative people have fears and anxieties about how they should put their work out there. The question of “should the world needs to know it or not” comes to mind. She also mentioned about a sense of entitlement, “the arrogance of belonging” that creative people need to cultivate, but has to be in a good and right way. Lastly, she mentioned about fearful thoughts and how creative people throughout the years thought that the only way to true expressive freedom is through suffering, martyrdom, and ultimately depression. So many artists we know died due to drug and alcohol overdose or severe depression that she recommended a much better way to approach our own creativity.
For my part, I set an intention on making a career out of doing creative things and didn’t realize until that moment when reading the book that it actually put a pressure on me and my soul to do things right. I did have a sense of entitlement but maybe directed in a wrong way, simply because I didn’t know any better. With those two thoughts made, I lost track of what’s really important. Though I had made good friends with a few of my work colleagues, the others were a bit strained. My work performance was also affected that I was either fired from the job or I voluntarily submitted a resignation letter because I knew I would be booted out anyway. Even when I worked in the writing and editing business, whether through a newspaper, book publishing company or another company that provides library index services for the US market, I knew that my mind was not wired for too many rules and different interpretations of those same rules. Working in a company with too many rules drains me.
What I now learned from those experiences is that I need to stay grounded and keep a positive attitude no matter what comes my way. I need to cultivate a discipline routine that I’m comfortable doing. I learned from Liz Gilbert the art of discipline and devotion in her writing work, and so I must also do that for my own writing work. And even with all the efforts I put into it and promoting and meeting as many people as I can, I need to leave the results with the Universe so that I would be calm and humble in accepting whatever comes. Among all the creative things I’ve done over the years, it’s writing I keep coming back to again and again. It’s purely out of love that I do this through my blog because writing keeps me honest and grounded. Writing can be transformative. Writing can be thought provoking.
And so may I continue doing this the rest of my life. Expand my love of writing in other areas of my life. My wish for you is to be able to find one or many things you’d love to do, stay curious and follow through on those. Give yourself permission to do things you are fearful of doing. The Universe sends messages, signals, emotions to you whenever you are drawn to certain things. And when you heed that call and release it out there, whether to the world or in your local community, and when someone is searching for it, the Universe will choose someone’s work who may best answer that person’s question. It may be yours or it may be someone else’s. Don’t be afraid to heed the call of your intuition, or God, or the Universe, whatever you believe in. Because there are people searching for answers. Be a vessel for the Universe to work in you and through you.