guard the gift

Last night at Culture Changers in Cleveland, we talked about resumes and the professional culture of You’re Not Good Enough, and how this message destroys creativity. I wanted to share the mental process that I use to guard creative time from professional time (a.k.a. fear time).

1) Recognize the difference between Fear and Creativity.

Getting hired requires creativity, but it’s a twisted kind of creativity. Selling anything (including yourself, a human being) requires a certain amount of showmanship. Showmanship involves a certain amount of special effects, even smoke and mirrors. Smoke and mirrors are lies. Obviously, listing real skills on a resume isn’t lying; but telling yourself that your value lies only in your employability¬†is a lie. Lying to yourself is not creative; it’s harmful.

Creative time is based on truth. Truth comes from outside us, not from our internal fear of not being cool or financially secure. (A lot of people try to make it as artists for those two reasons. They’re wasting their time and ours.)

2) Learn to feel content. 

I struggle with obsession over writing, and I’ve wasted a lot of emotional energy feeling discontent. If you’ve been given a gift in a certain area, God will bring those creative times to you when you’re ready. That might mean that a weak of hell with no creative time is exactly what you need. God will always give you exactly what you need, even if you don’t like it.

3) When art comes, get out of the way.

The vision will come. You’ll channel again. Recognize the stirrings, when universal beauty is whispering to you with its latest manifestation. Drop everything at that instant, as much as you can, and do art.

Recently, I drank too much coffee throughout the day. When I was trying to fall asleep, my mind was going crazy. I lay awake for probably 2 hours, and I got the backbone of a new novel. I grabbed a notebook and crept into the bathroom so I could write it all down without waking up my wife. I felt awful the next day from the loss of sleep, but it was totally worth it. This story is going to be huge. I got the ideas recorded, and even that act itself laid the ground for further thinking and further uncovering of this drama.

Commit to your art by removing your ego from doing your art. Love your art. Die for your art. It’s the only way.

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