I am NOT artistic. Or crafty, really. I mean, I try. But because the majority of my projects fall into the #fail category, I have always believed I wasn’t creative. It wasn’t until a particular therapy session a decade or so ago that I really started to believe I had a creative bone in my body. It was then I tapped into my gift for storytelling and the power to move people through writing. And as I have worked and practiced and grown in that gift, I have learned a few things.
Thing one is this: creating is hard. It takes physical and mental and emotional energy. It requires vulnerability. It requires bravery. It’s a lot of work. This pretty much describes how I feel every time I sit down to write:
1. This is awesome
2. This is tricky
3. This is crap
4. I am crap
5. This might be ok
6. This is awesome
Another thing I have learned is that there is a tension to walk between creating something that is a true representation of you and creating something that you know will “sell.” Sometimes, it’s hard to make the call. There are the easy projects that you know will hit the masses and be well received. And then there are the times you feel called to tackle something that is harder or heavier or will appeal to a much smaller audience. I always try and talk myself out of it. I give myself about 16 different ways this will be the death of me and anything I feel called to accomplish. It is so much easier to stay in the nest, so safe and warm and cozy.
But there are times I feel called to jump. Out of the nest. Out of my safe place. Out of my creative comfort zone. Compelled might be a better word to describe it. It is the feeling of being pulled toward something that makes no rational sense. It defies formulas and market research. It goes against the tried and true methods of getting results. And yet the feeling remains.
Here is what I have learned. It always pays to jump. Creatively speaking, I mean. This is not an endorsement for jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, although I have done that too and it’s pretty ding dang awesome. What I mean is that it always pays to take the risk. Maybe it turns out awesome and you end up the next Joanna Gaines of your field. Maybe it is a total flop, and you learn some really important lessons along the way. But what I have seen is that you usually land somewhere in the middle.
Let me explain. When God put it on my heart to write a blog on depression, I did my best to talk Him out of it. I mean, really. People read blogs to feel inspired, encouraged, and uplifted. This was a HORRIBLE idea. And guess what? It got less traffic than any other post in the previous 6 months. But what it did get was far greater. There weren’t many shares on FB, but there were text messages from friends who finally felt brave enough to share their journey. Messages that said “thanks for letting me know I’m not alone.” Messages that said they felt for the first time that they could do the healing work necessary to get out of the hole.
And that made it all worth it. To know that one person’s life was a wee bit better today because I took a risk means more to me than a thousand “likes” or a hundred “shares.” It’s not always the best sellers that make the most impact. It is usually the quiet risks that end up bringing the greatest reward because they break us and change us in the most important ways.
So I want to encourage you to create. In whatever ways you express the creative side of you, #doit. Do your thing the way only you can and do it with excellence. But when the chance to take a creative risk comes up, don’t get scared. Just jump. Perhaps bravery will be key to unlocking your next best seller.