A wise procrastinator once said: “Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?” As many a professor from my college days would attest to, I could very well have originated that quote. That’s me: not quite wise; often quite the procrastinator.
A much wiser man, Charles Dickens, stated “procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” Easier said than done. While I know it to be true, I still have a hard time owning my struggle and doing something about it. In fact, even now, the relaunch of Live Vulnerably is simply waiting on me to finish this blog, then we’re set to take it live. *facepalm*
Lately, I’ve been taking a good hard look at my habits… my foundations and formations, as I like to call them. What foundations am I building upon, and what habits are becoming formations and patterns for how I build? When it comes to creating, I don’t feel ready or focused enough to build something that will be “good enough” to put into the world, let alone have any lasting impact. And choosing to examine this struggle naturally means having to dig deep to the core beliefs that produce my habits and subsequently hinder me from flexing my creative muscles… beliefs that stop me from even starting something. Recently, I’ve come to this upsetting conclusion about myself:
I’m afraid to begin a project, because I’m afraid of having to sustain it.
This may seem ridiculous, but I’ve been nervous to write page one of a screenplay, to put music to lyrics I have in my head, or to even open my pastels and start a sketch, mostly because I am scared I don’t have the time or talent it takes to make the finished product as perfect as I want it to be. Too often, my desire for perfection is my greatest hindrance. Instead, I find it easier and more comforting to keep my creative ideas in my head, simply convincing myself that it’s going to be amazing and perfect when I DO finally start. This kills my creative drive completely, only compounds the fear of beginning, and atrophies my voice. Frankly, I’m sick of it, so I’m going to do something about it. I’m going to seek a better perspective and recognize the power I have is this: I get to choose to believe something different about myself.
And here’s where I find myself face-to-face with the truth that cuts through the messy false belief system: to create is to be in process. Creativity IS process, and that is more than ok: it is beautiful. This is the reality that cuts through my predicament and allows vulnerable, real words to start coming out of my head and onto the paper. Because it is not easy to be vulnerable, I’ve long resisted it, taking the easy way out and resting instead on my high-horse named “Potential.” But since allowing myself to know the truth — that my value does not come from how perfect my creativity looks, that I am loved and valuable as a human being outside of just what I can offer the world — THAT is when I find the strength to use my voice. And the best part? It sounds uniquely like me. The pressure is off for me to have to create like somebody else.
Creatives, hear me in this: creating what is imperfect is a key part of finding your authentic voice as a creator. Furthermore, the imperfect is what connects us. As we reveal the parts of our hearts and minds that don’t have it all together, we in turn find other voices, artists, visionaries, and creators who don’t mind saying, “Hey, I know that feeling. That’s the place I have been, too. I am WITH you.”
The imperfect is what connects us. As we reveal the parts of our hearts and minds that don’t have it all together, we in turn find other voices, artists, visionaries, and creators, who don’t mind saying, “Hey, I know that feeling. That’s the place I have been, too. I am WITH you.”
Friends, it’s ok to struggle to create. It’s ok to be unsure of your voice. And it’s ok to hit as many sour notes as you need to as you find the strength to carry a melody. Just use your voice. Not somebody else’s. Not an Instagram-perfect version of what you think the people around you want. YOUR voice, authentically, uniquely you, embracing the failures that will inevitably happen as they lead the way into greater wins. There is no shame in having imperfections; what’s important is where your heart is going in the matter. In fact, one of the bravest and boldest moves you can make is to own where you haven’t “arrived” at the destination yet, and just take a step anyway. I promise, on the other side of that step, it starts to get easier. As it does, you’ll find richly rewarding, deep layers of authenticity in your creative voice.
Ultimately, I believe the creative process is really just being “works in process” ourselves, and I’m going to choose to embrace that. I even wrote a blog about it!