You can’t force it to life.

Picture, if you will, a rock…

(go with it for a sec…)

Just a plain old rock, big enough to fit comfortably in your hand. To look at it, there doesn’t seem to be anything immediately special about it. It’s certainly not terribly exciting to look at, and as it is, there would be little value in investing the time into polishing it up.

But deep within this rock, there are rare, highly valuable gemstones to be found. If you chip away at the rock long enough and carefully enough, you will find them.

Sometimes, even after you’ve found some of the rock’s treasures, you keep working to discover the exceptionally rare, priceless stones that lie even deeper within. It would be a crime not to polish these stones up.

No doubt you see where I’m going with this…

The Writing Phase.

In creative work, I find the writing phase to be both the most exciting and the most stressful.

By this point in the process, you’ve entered into an agreement with the idea; you’ve begun chipping away at the outer layer of rock, and have caught a glimpse of the gemstones inside. It’s far too soon to polish it up, but it is clear that there is more to be discovered.

This is where I’m currently at. The rock I’m chipping away at is an idea for a brand new tap dance stage production.

I’ve been waiting for an idea like this one; one that stays with you, and doesn’t leave you alone. It took a while to come forth, but the more I discover, the more I need to explore it further. It is extremely exciting, and when it comes down to it, there’s really no other way I would wish to spend my days.

However, experience has taught me that the dream can quickly become a nightmare. I have a tendency to dream up elaborate visions and then try to accomplish them single-handedly, leading to inevitable stress, frustration, and wishing that I’d not begun the project at all.

While I have no intention of going down this same road again, the vision I am dreaming up is certainly not a small one. The project is already demanding measures of determination, perseverance, discipline and patience that are testing the limits of my comfort zone on a daily basis.

The writing phase is also where the ‘self-doubt’ gremlin rears its ugly head. This cheeky schmuck will do everything in its power to stop you in your tracks (and very often succeeds in doing exactly that).

Note: knowledge of the self-doubt gremlin is the first step toward exterminating him.

The writing phase; pros and cons.

Pros:
– Cost-Effectiveness. The main investment required is time.
– Solitude. The writing phase demands it. Fortunately, it works for me.
– Adventure. While the unknown holds no guarantees, everything you want is waiting for you there.
– Fulfillment. The kind that can only come from making something of your own.

Cons:
– Time. Ideas can’t be forced, and must be allowed to come forth in their own time.
– Loneliness. Just because you don’t necessarily need to venture out and connect with humanity, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Even the most solitary of humans still need a measure (however small it may be) of human connection.
– Imbalance. Discovering ideas is fun, and highly addictive. But spend too much time with anything, and you’ll get sick of it. Take regular breaks, and to allow your mind time away from the idea.

and, for me…

– A lack of tap dance. While this project will inevitably bring an oversupply of tap dance to my life, right now, I’m missing it.

Baby steps.

It’s the only way I can do it. It might take longer, but I refuse to accept the glorified notion of the troubled artist, at war with their creativity. No thanks. Not this time. I’d much rather be in love with my work, and allow it to come forth when it’s ready. For me, it’s the only way to do it. You can’t force it to life.

How are you?

On a final note, I hope that you…the person reading right now…are well and happy, and are finding your own sources of creative magic within your life.

I chose the rock metaphor above (which comes from the Studio Ghibli film ‘Whispher of the Heart’) because I strongly believe that all the answers we seek are inside of us. The gemstones inside are very real, waiting to be discovered. For me, I know I’ve gone nowhere near deep enough, and have much more to discover.

Perhaps, whatever we do in our lives is in some way leading us toward this core; this fire inside us and the gemstones to be found and polished. Perhaps, our adventure outwards is actually an adventure inwards. Perhaps, our key to freedom lies in our willingness to discover ourselves.

Thank you for keeping me accountable to this project. I will keep you posted on how the adventure unfolds.


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