Don’t Betray Your Creative Potential
What is really important to you?
One thing that has really struck home personally in the past few years is how, with the best of intentions, our hopes, dreams and values can get lost in the busyness of life. Unless we remind ourselves on a regular basis what our hopes and values are and track how our lifestyles are contributing to those we can lose several years on the treadmill, not lifting our heads to see if we are making the best choices.
We can sometimes lose sight of what we really want to do. And that includes writing. If you start to ask yourself questions like ‘what is most important to me?’, ‘what do I want my legacy to be?’ and ‘what do I want to contribute to the world?’ and if any of your answers contain writing then it’s vital that you commit to what is valuable to you and don’t betray your creative potential by letting it slide.
We are not already there, most of us, we are ‘aspiring’ or the second novel is proving difficult or we’ve been buffeted by the vagaries of the publishing industry or life is too busy. We need to take action.
The power of orientation and intention
I don’t agree that you will always succeed just by putting your mind to it. Life can be cruel and throw up unexpected challenges, not everyone has equal opportunity or freedoms but if writing is something you really want to do and you can take steps towards developing your writing and creativity then you must do whatever you can.
I do believe in the power of orientation and intention. We frame things by the way we look. Confirmation bias and other psychological phenomenon prove that we start with a theory and then work towards proving it. If our theory is that we’ll never succeed, we’ll ignore possible opportunities.
New Years is about resolutions. Resolutions are orientations towards positive change. There is a goal and associated action. If writing is what we value, if reaching out to others with our words is important to us then we need to make it happen.
For many 2016 was a difficult year. We lost many artistic and creative people and world events seemed to take a sinister turn. 2017 will be the year of finding meaning and of seeing what we can do to enhance both our own lives and the lives of others and creativity feeds into that in a big way. Our most human qualities involving pushing ourselves to create new things, to forge improvements, to reach out and assist our fellow human beings. There are huge humanitarian and environmental concerns right now and practical action is needed. If we care we can do something practical to help. Also, at the core of what makes us human is the creation of beautiful works of art, music and literature. Works that speak to who we are as humans and in turn uplift and entertain.
It’s easy to find examples of people who have taken on the challenge of making a difference and doing it in a compassionate and creative manner.
I’ve recently become familiar with Noel Fitzpatrick’s groundbreaking, creative and innovative work in the world of veterinary science and surgery from his Supervet program but it’s his attitude towards how we go about our life’s work, the values we hold and how we treat others along the way that is so inspiring. He encourages us to commit to the work we want to do and to make a difference. This inspiring video is well worth watching.
I’ve also always been very motivated by Ray Bradbury’s enthusiastic orientation towards his work. He wrote about things that thrilled him and suggested we always find ways to read about and experience wondrous and exciting information that we then feed into our work. This is one inspiring talk that outlines his philosophy.
I’ve also recently started to read a really lovely book by Hope Jahren (winner of three Fulbright Awards) called Lab Girl. It’s her memoir on her life in science and charts how laboratory work and scientific research was her dream since she accompanied her father to his laboratory as a child. She explains the exhilaration of discovery but also shows how fulfilling her ambition was not an easy thing. She pushed to get the facilities, resources and funding to research her beloved plants with no assurance of success. Once a project was over, she had to push all over again to fund her scientific pursuit. Sound familiar? Yet, she manages, throughout the book to thrill us with the incredible facts about trees and their adaptability and resilience. Each chapter is a metaphor for the human struggle.
Honour and nurture your creative potential
Depending on your stage in your writing development you can do many things to honour and nurture your creative potential
- Set aside a specific hour each day dedicated to writing
- If possible, designate a particular area your writing space
- Declare your writing intentions to family and friends and ask for help to fulfil it (babysitting, dogwalking, dinners etc)
- Enter this great competition for a 1 hour writing or publishing masterclass with literary scout, Inkwell founder and Writing.ie director Vanessa O’ Loughlin.
- Submit to a writing competition
- Later in the year take part in NaNoWriMo to help you establish your legitimacy as a writer
- If you have a solid novel written send it out widely to agents and publishers and remain philosophical about rejection. Give your work a chance.
If you aren’t sure whether your work yet makes the grade
Take a class. Here is a list of distance learning, weekend workshops, retreat or evening classes. Here is what’s on offer in the Irish Writers Centre. Or check out your local college for an evening class beginning soon.
You could also invest in a mentor.
Or find a local writers group to legitimize your work by discussing its merits and weaknesses. Help others by giving valuable feedback.
If you want to give your writing an extra push, finish a project or think about a longer term commitment.
Apply for an Arts Council Bursary
Remember how important writing is to you
It is so easy to lose confidence, it happens to us all. It’s so easy to lose sight of what is most important to us in the mess of daily living. We sometimes forget what we really want to do and we become dispirited and disillusioned. If you’ve taken stock this January and realise that writing is vital to give meaning to your life, then make sure that you honour that meaning and value, take steps towards nurturing your creativity and giving yourself a voice. Write down what your commitments are to your writing dream and keep coming back to your notes throughout the year to ensure that you are still finding ways to push forward towards your goal.
Alison Wells runs the Random Acts of Optimism blog and lives in Bray, Co. Wicklow with her husband and four children. Her short fiction been published in many magazines and online and print anthologies and she has been featured on Sunday Miscellany. Shortlisted for the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award, Bridport and Fish Prize's she has just completed a themed short story collection Random Acts of Optimism and a literary novel The Book of Remembered Possibilities. To read Alison's full blog, visit Head Above Water. Find out in her Random Acts of Optimism how she manages to juggle writing, children and life.