Create the path by walking on it

Daily Prompt wants to know, “Have you ever become obsessed with something? Tell us about something that captivates your attention like nothing else.”

You may have noticed I haven’t been posting much lately. I have been doing a bit of non-blog writing, but mostly I’ve just been super-busy with other things. Chiefly, I’ve got a lot of papers to grade for the two (what was I thinking?) courses I taught this term over and above my already busy day job. I should be doing that right now.

I don’t know if I would call it an obsession, but at this point in my life I am focused on finding ways to live more creatively. Teaching is, for me, a creative pursuit. Grading papers is not. My job affords opportunities for creativity, but it also comes with lots of barriers to creativity. Sometimes I think my biggest barrier to living a more creative life is me.

One of my greatest creative mentors is a woman I have never met, but who lives so vividly through her books that I feel as though I have. A few days ago I was having a sort of “crisis of faith”—as in I was seriously doubting my faith in my own creativity. I expressed it in this blog post. The very next day, as though the universe itself was responding to my shaken confidence, I picked up Julia Cameron’s The Sound of Paper from my nightstand and happened upon these words, written by Cameron in reflection upon a concert of Richard Rodgers’ lesser-known works:

All of us who make things worry whether or not what we make is “original.” Listening to the Rodgers evening proved this worry to be irrelevant. Clearly, Rodgers was the “origin” of all his work. The prism of his sensibility is what made it original. The same is true for all of us. We are the origin or our work. Our allowing work to move through us in the issue. As we suit up and show up each day at the page or easel or the camera, we have an “eye” that becomes the “I” present in all that we do. (pp. 57-58)

Julia Cameron is one of those rare beings who actually make a living being creative. She has published both fiction and non-fiction, and even composed opera. But Cameron’s greatest gift to the creative world has surely been her many books of gentle wisdom on how to unlock the creativity we all carry within us. Beginning with The Artist’s Way, and moving through multiple volumes of reflections and exercises that encourage the reader to dig deeper into the depths of his or her own creativity, Cameron has quite literally “written the book” on how to live a more creative life.

Mind you, she’s not alone. There are others whom I have found to be able guides in my quest to centre myself within my creativity. Twyla Tharp. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Stephen King. And others whose names escape me for the moment.

So many things escape me. So many times I have tried to take a run at living a more creative life, and before I know it all the things that have a tendency to squelch my efforts rush in and fill up all the spaces in my day, and in my mind. The truth is my willpower is not very powerful. I’m way better at starting projects than I am at finishing them.

But I’m not giving up.

There’s been a lot written about Disney’s new creation Frozen. For  me, the most powerful metaphor in this amazing film comes in the middle of Elsa’s iconic song “Let it go” where she essentially creates a staircase by walking up it. That’s how I see the process of creating a different way of living. Create the path by walking on it. One step at a time.

Meanwhile, I need to grade some papers.


7 thoughts on “Create the path by walking on it

  1. Hey, thanks for the post. I understand completely! For me, the struggle has been that I’ve equated being “artistic” with being “creative” and I’ve only recently recognized: I don’t have to be an artist with paint or music or write the great American novel to see myself as creative. Writing is a creative process, even if it is non-fiction prose. And like you, I struggle with willpower…I have lots of desire, but when I’m tired or discouraged, my willpower takes a break…just when I need it to kick in!

    Great quote! ~ Sheila

    1. That’s why I like Julia Cameron’s work so much. She defines creativity very broadly. She has published books applying her techniques for unblocking creativity to the workplace, weight loss, and even how we manage our money!

  2. Oh I know exactly what you mean about the marking – mine is due in and I can feel myself bracing for four weeks of struggling with something which always seems to threaten my creativity. I think that’s partly the way (at least in the UK) a variety of pressures mean it is less of a dialogue with the student than it used to be. For me it is often dialogue that underpins the creative process (whether it’s making a poem or a loaf of bread) – often dialogue with self. So I try to keep the voices going when I can – maybe that’s why I think of blogging as creative, essentially. Thank you for the staircase image – I loved that when I saw the film and your way of describing it (creating it by walking up it) is fantastic…

  3. I want a “Love” button. I love this post. I, too, came across Cameron’s book at a critical time in my life. The single most important piece I took away from The Artist’s Way was the saying “Leap, and the net will appear.” Not unlike Elsa walking up that staircase.
    I’m going to have to watch that movie. Thanks for taking the time off to write this.

  4. Pingback: Be aware, for Dragons live among Us | Wired With Words

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