By Brenda Riojas, I Start Wondering Columnist
Too often we sabotage our creative selves by not taking steps to put our ideas into action. We stand frozen before a blank page or canvas worried about how to proceed or that our efforts will end in failure. Other times we procrastinate — or worse, we wait for the muse to inspire us.
For a few months I was guilty of all of the above. I neglected my writing. I felt the loss of all the words that did not make it on to the page. As I admired colleagues who kept a constant beat to their work, I realized it’s about being intentional, saying “yes” and showing up to the page daily. Not surprisingly, Pablo Picasso is noted for saying, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.”
In April to mark National Poetry Month, I made a goal to find a writing prompt and write every day. My creative soul did cartwheels in celebration. I know everything I wrote is not excellent. However, there are some good images and lines to use and some poems to fine tune in the revision stage.
Jumping into the Void
To honor ourselves and our creative work, we need to show up and say, “Yes, let’s do this.” In his TED Talk entitled “The surprising habits of original thinkers,” organizational psychologist Adam Grant notes, “Self-doubt is paralyzing. It leads you to freeze.”
He goes on to talk about the value of generating multiple ideas. “If you look across fields, the greatest original thinkers are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most,” he said. “The more output you churn out, the more variety you get and the better your chances of stumbling on something truly original.”
Writer and producer Shonda Rhimes shared her experiment of saying yes to all the things that scared her during her TED Talk titled “My year of saying yes to everything.” In doing so, she discovered the power of that one word. “The very act of doing the thing that scared me undid the fear, made it not scary,” Rhimes recounted.
Jumping into the Pool
As a child, I never learned to swim and over the years I developed a fear of the deep. I started to face the fear by teaching myself how to swim in the shallow end of the pool. It’s been a slow process. To make strides, I needed to show up regularly, get in the water and practice drill after drill. I have a ways to go, but I am on my way to becoming a stronger swimmer, and maybe, just maybe in a year or two I will be strong enough and brave enough to swim in a half Iron Man.
I’ve learned to value the act of showing up, physically and mentally, to any project. It comes with a sense of exploration, some mystery and endless possibilities. I’ve also learned to be gentle with myself by putting away the internal censors and judges. Most importantly, I’ve learned to enjoy the process and be open to the surprises.
What is waiting for you to show up? What will you be saying yes to today?