Be strong in listening to your muse. I don’t mean to wait for the muse in order to create, because you know as well as I that if we did, very little would get done. What I mean is that we all get our inspiration from somewhere, and it’s up to us to find where it lives. It might be a type of music, or gorgeous writing or painting at a level you want to be creating. Perhaps meditation, candlelight, a particular scent, being in nature, or yoga is your muse. Your children, your romantic relationship, or your faith might open the channel to your creative self. When it does, spend some time with it. The muse is always speaking, but do we always listen?
Be strong in saying No, and courageous in saying Yes. When we know what we do and don't want, it’s easier to say No kindly and without apology. Clearing your schedule, your assignment list, and your life of tasks that aren’t a good fit allows two things: (1) others who are better-suited and -abled get the opportunity to say Yes to them, and (2) you have the space to say Yes to those things that are the best fit.
Be courageous in drafting, and strong in revision. Laying down that first draft or initial sketch takes courage. Turning the spectacular prose or magnificent painting that’s been growing in your head into stories and images on paper is scary. And if you’ve gone through that before, you know it can be disappointing. But you also know it’s just the first step in a long process involving hard work and difficult decisions. This is where strength comes in—to distance yourself from what you’ve created so you can see it more objectively, the strength to consider others’ feedback as you refine the work, and the strength to endure the process. (Trusting and enduring the process will be a separate post!)
Be courageous in finding your voice. Let me rephrase that—you’ve already found your voice, because it speaks to you every day from the place deep inside you. What takes courage is clearing away the fiction and exposing that truth to yourself and others. That is your voice, in all its ragged beauty and pure love. People are hungry for such beauty and love—souls die for lack of them—and when they hear your voice, soul restores soul. Your voice is a gift, so don’t keep it covered—be strong and persistent in digging it out, and courageous in giving it to those who yearn for it.
Be courageous to dream, and courageously follow your dream. Your desire to create something brand new from words or images is your dream—not your partner’s or your child’s, your best friend’s, your boss's, or your favorite teacher’s. It’s your desire, your passion, your need, your wish or prayer—and no one but you can make it valid or worthy of pursuit, and no one else can claim it or take it from you. I wholly, strongly, courageously believe that every single one of us is born with a dream in our souls and the means by which to fulfill it. Guard your dreams and keep them tender, and figure out what to do with what you’ve been given. It doesn't matter if you don’t have much to start with; you don’t need enough courage for the entire journey—only enough to take the first step.
Now onward, dear monkeys, with strength and courage!
What message inspires you on your creative journey, and how? Leave a comment and tell us!