This is a post in a series inspired by Big Magic by Liz Gilbert. Read the Intro, Courage and Enchantment.
Way before I started this blog, I wanted to have a blog.
I thought about it a lot. I had this idea about writing about things that were hard to do, about not living comfortably all the time.
But I didn’t feel like I had permission to blog. As soon as I got excited about blogging, four thoughts would creep into my mind.
1. I didn’t have any right to share my writing.
Who did I think I was? The thought of blogging felt selfish or entitled. It’s not like I have an extraordinary gift of writing, there were so many bloggers out there who were way better at this than me.
2. My idea wasn’t original, many people are writing about this.
There are so many really smart people already writing about doing hard things and not living a comfortable or ordinary life. What more could I add to that conversation? Probably nothing.
3. I wasn’t living a life that would inspire or help anyone.
I didn’t have an extraordinary story. Most blogs I read were about people on big adventures or facing extreme circumstances. I was just living an ordinary life, so there was no way I’d be able to help or inspire people.
4. It wasn’t a practical use of my time.
Sure, I technically had the time, but I could probably find better ways to use it than writing about myself. I could go to the gym or volunteer or work more hours. Where’s the value in spending my time writing?
Needless to say, whenever I had the thought to start a blog, I quickly talked myself out of it.
Then I signed up for a course that happened to require a blog. To earn my certificate, I needed to blog. It could be about absolutely anything we wanted – the point was to create and maintain it.
I officially had permission to blog.
And it all came together quite quickly. The concept of “choosing butterflies” tapped me on the shoulder while driving home from work one day. Then ideas for posts came faster than I could get them down. While my classmates talked about how they struggled to find things to write about to hit the minimum 16 posts in eight weeks, I struggled to find time to write about all the things that were floating in my head.
And so, I kept it going. Two years after that course was finished and it was no longer required, I’m still here. I never received “permission” to keep blogging, but I was hooked.
When I look back, I realize those four thoughts were, in fact, lies. I wholeheartedly believed them – but that’s all they were. Lies.
And here on the other side, and with beautiful words from Liz Gilbert’s Big Magic, I see these new truths.
1. We are all creative beings, therefore we are allowed to create.
“…you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own”
Creating isn’t always about the final product. We don’t need to be the best painter, singer, dancer, writer to participate. Simply by existing, we’re entitled to have a voice and a vision…whatever that looks like to us.
2. I don’t have to be original, but I do have to be authentic.
“Attempts at originality can often feel forced and precious, but authenticity has a quiet resonance that never fails to stir me.”
As soon as I stopped trying to do something no one had done, it became easier. Instead, I look to those smart people writing about doing hard things as inspiration. And often, I use that inspiration to write my own post or posts. I never claim these concepts as my own, I just authentically share my experience with them.
3. A goal of helping people through my creativity can actually stifle creativity.
“At the end of the day, I do what I do because I like doing it.”
This has been incredibly true. As soon as I make my motive to help others, the words come out awkward, preachy and insincere. But when I write to help myself through something, or write about something that I think is fun to write about, it flows. It’s easier to write and I think this is when I’m the most genuine.
4. Writing isn’t essential, which actually makes it essential.
“Creativity is magnificent expressly because it is the opposite of everything else in life that’s essential or inescapable.”
When the world is ending and they’re looking for people to help, they’re certainly not going to say, “can we have all the bloggers step forward?”
But maybe that’s just it.
Maybe the fact that I don’t have to write makes me feel like I need to write. It’s a weird paradox, but as Liz says, “I think we can handle it”.
There are so many things in life that we have to do. I have to go to work, I have to clean my condo, I have to pay my bills, I have to be kind to people that aren’t kind to me, I have to visit my parents (okay, I do enjoy that last one).
With so many things that we have to do, doesn’t it make sense to leave room for those things we don’t have to do? That that becomes essential for our sanity?
So if you need permission to be creative, start here. Consider this your permission slip. If it’s still not enough, read Big Magic. Because if you have any desire to be any kind of creative, Big Magic will have you rip up the permission slip and create anyway.