A few weeks ago, I saw a blog post by Cheryl Richardson called “5 Ways Your Creative Flow Can Kick Butt.” If you’re interested in the 5 ways, Richardson’s post can be found here. Interesting premise, but I was more intrigued by the 5 affirmations the author listed at the bottom of her article for respecting your art and craft, approaches she seemed to list almost as an afterthought but that had great resonance for me. Today, I would like to explore how these affirmations manifest themselves in my own writing life. The affirmations are “I protect my dream,” “I make space for my dream,” “I nurture my dream,” “I have a strong advocate to help me get to the finish line,” and “I nourish my creative idea with love.”
I protect my dream. In the face of life’s great obligations and responsibilities, nothing can seem more self-indulgent than sitting down at the computer or with a notebook and pen trying to put words together in a meaningful way. But that’s also the beauty of doing it. I protect my dream by continuing to carve out time to practice writing, even in the face of tax season, softball games, and clogged toilets. It’s important to me to sneak off sometimes, stare at a (usually virtual) blank sheet of paper, and see if I can’t crank out a poem or a piece of flash. I have been lucky enough four or five times to find enough time on a regular basis to create a handful of book length manuscripts as well. Writing is my zen practice. It keeps me sane. I must protect it.
I make space for my dream. As I’ve said before, I get to my classroom about an hour before my first class every morning and, after starting coffee and reading new e-mails, I have about 45 minutes to write. Work obligations often impinge on this time, but obviously the more I honor this practice and make space for my dream, the more writing I do. On those very lucky days, I may also find a few minutes at home to work on a poem, edit a chapter, or write a blog post like this one. If you don’t make space for your dream, no one else will.
I nurture my dream. Whenever possible, I nurture my dream by reading, teaching my students to write, reading my writer friends’ works-in-progress, doing research on agents and publishers, or sending out poems and short stories to on-line journals. Sometimes I nurture my dream by sitting outside on a pretty morning and thinking, “Okay, Danny, how you would describe the quality of sunlight here or the bend of that rosebush or the sound of that bird.” Even when you’re not writing there are a thousand ways to nurture your dream and make yourself feel like a writer.
I have a strong advocate to help me get to the finish line. Our loved ones often support our dreams. But sometimes they don’t. Either way, it’s important to have someone in your corner who believes in what you’re doing. Even if your significant other doesn’t quite understand what you do as a writer or why, you can find other people who have faith in your dream. For me, I have been lucky enough to be supported by other writer friends, teachers, and other mentors who read what I wrote and said, “Keep going.” I also have one or two agents who, although they have not offered representation for my books, have been so supportive of my writing that, when I experience frustration or doubt, I think of them and that gives me the energy to keep going. Furthermore, it also only takes one look at the forums, writing circles, and scratchpad messages to know that we can all find a world of support here at Scribophile.
I nourish my creative idea with love. When we love someone, we shower that person with (among other things) support, encouragement, respect, love, caring, empathy, and compassion. It is important that we do the same with our writing dream. The irony is that by giving love to our creative idea we are really loving ourselves–and that can be one of the most important kinds of love of all.
Choose one of these affirmations and tell me how it operates in your life. . .