I used to have a long list of projects that I wanted to get to. Story ideas, characters, magic systems, plots, love stories—they would shout at me in the middle of the night. I would have to tell them to just wait, that I would get to them. I literally did not have time in the day to write all the ideas I had.
And then I got to a point in my career where I’d lost all my dreams, where I didn’t believe in myself anymore, and the ideas stopped coming. I thought I was finished. I’d had my chance and I’d done my best, but I hadn’t been enough. Or maybe the world had just crushed me. Maybe I was as brilliant as I thought I was—and it still didn’t matter. No one cared. And I wasn’t sure I had it in me to keep writing just for myself.
I’ve been on both sides, and what I have to say about these experiences is simply that they are both part of the ebb and flow of being a creative person. They don’t mean anything about whether you will become a bestseller or a has-been. They don’t mean that you are or aren’t on the cusp of perfection. They are just part of doing the work, day in and day out.
Sometimes the work of being creative is sitting with silence, with the fear of never creating again. Sometimes it’s knowing that life has taken control of you and that survival is all you can manage right now. Sometimes it’s letting yourself live so you have something to write about. Sometimes it’s letting go of being in charge of your creativity and taking risks that you really would not choose to take if you were in charge.
Let me say this to you again, in case you didn’t hear it the first time: wherever you are in the journey, it’s the right place. Whatever your soul is telling you to do, it is the right thing. Creativity doesn’t ask more of us than we can give. No mater what those stories are about artists in the tower, I don’t believe that giving up everything is what it takes to be creative.
What I do believe is that creativity calls us, sometimes gently, sometimes more loudly and insistently, to go deep into ourselves, and then to share that with others.
It can be the scariest thing you ever do. It is also the most rewarding.
And it is also unpredictable. Whatever you think creativity is, it will be something different tomorrow. Hold on tight for the ride.