New Year...New Projects!!

Recently, I’ve noticed that all of the projects I’ve got on the go right now have one common thread running through them  - they’re all unfinished. Or barely started, even.  I mean, there’s something to be said for consistency, but, geez Louise, what am I waiting for??

The truth is, I feel like I’ve been looming, like a gargoyle, over the creaky doorway to my most creative self for quite some time (not a scary, gnashy-teeth gargoyle - I prefer to think of myself more like one of them adorable, smiley ones from Disney’s Hunchback [see appendix viii-c]) - warding off any attempts to access my creativity by dangling terrorizing thoughts of fear and failure in front of my short-sighted peepers.  It would be sooooo comforting to instead be able to unholster my blamin’ finger and implicate my busy work schedule, my overwhelming social calendar, or my time-consuming beauty regimen (this look doesn’t just happen, you know); but unfortunately, there’s only one poor sap to blame, and that’s me!  I HATE THAT! (FACT CHECK: I actually love it, cause I’m the only one I can do anything about)

In defiant retaliation, I’m delightedly putting writing back on my dance card for 2019.  It's one of the reasons I'm writing this blog! I used to write a lot. In recent years, people would ask me, “Are you still writing?”  “Of course,” I’d reply, as if they’d asked me if I still breathed, or drank water, or listened to my Olivia Newton-John Greatest Hits album (OBVI).  I was too embarrassed to tell them I talked about writing a lot more than I actually did it anymore.   My burgeoning list of ideas for irresistible new plays, songs and TV shows sits untended, like the neglected hedges surrounding Grey Gardens (not to mention my new children’s play about the hedges around Grey Gardens called “Little Shrubber-Edie” ***apologies for this esoteric and somewhat juvenile joke as it’s purely for my own enjoyment - JSE).  

So why do we put off, forget about, and flee from creative projects that we initially wholeheartedly embrace?  Well, it’s our old pal self-judgment, of course! For me, it’s about writing. But this self- sabotage, naturally, can apply to any project towards which you express your beautiful creativity:  painting, woodworking, sewing, decorating, Macramé, Papier-mâché, macaroni art, Kazoo tuning, etc...etc…self-judgment is an all-season sport and we are Olympian-caliber participants!

In my case, I was afraid that I couldn’t write anymore.  That my time had passed. That all my ideas had been done and done better than I could ever hope to do them.  That I didn’t have anything fresh or interesting to offer. That I would write something absolutely terrible and be humiliated.  That I would fail. (insert your own painful thought here)

And since those false thoughts (and umpteen more) stopped me from writing anything, it was difficult to prove that I could write anymore.  And thus did my fears come to fruition!  Which meant I could eagerly build my case -  point to myself not writing, and say “See?? I can’t write anymore! Why??  Why me????”  Next stop: Spiral City!  Everybody out!

Oh brother!  A entire box-set collection of false beliefs and delusions!  At least I created something!  Just nothing real. (*sad trumpet*)

And why do we do this to ourselves?  Well, for one thing, we’re looking the wrong way. We’re looking outside of ourselves for comparison and approval.  Comparing ourselves to others never leads to happiness, I’m afraid.  We either feel superior (judging others...being outraged and jealous if they do “better” than us) or inferior (judging ourselves...projecting our insecurities onto those around us...often becoming too paralyzed to do anything at all).  And looking for approval from others is like craving an ice-bucket challenge...we’ll get what we expect, but it’s still can be a nasty shock all the same!

Of course, we need to look inside.  That’s where true creativity is.  No comparisons, and only one person’s approval required.  If you want to access your creativity, get that person’s approval.  And if you knew yourself like I know you, you’d approve of yourself tout de suite! CAUSE YOU’RE MAGNIFICENT. But I digress.

Just the facts, ma’ ARE creativity.  That’s what we all are, in reality - creative beings.  I’m sure that’s not surprising to you.  When do you feel most alive and full of joy?  When you’re being creative. Like, when you want to surprise someone you’re just crazy about, on their birthday or something, and you spend a ton of time working on a really elaborate puzzle or poem or song or scavenger hunt and THEY JUST LOVE IT AND YOU KNEW THEY WOULD...and it’s just the best feeling working on all of it?  Because creativity is LOVE, amigo.  And love is CREATIVITY. And, spoiler alert if you’re reading further, YOU are LOVE and CREATIVITY.

Can you feel that?  I’m feelin’ it.

The moral of this story is, you already have a direct connection to all the creativity you can possibly want.  You only need to express it.  The same beautiful muses that whispered into the ears of Michelangelo, Arthur Miller, Joni Mitchell, Prince, and that girl who played Tooti on Facts of Life are whispering to you, too!  SAME. Inspiration is yours, if only you’d take a boo inside and see it waiting patiently in stillness for you.  And any of those judgments you’re savoring about yourself and others are lounging on beach blankets on top of the creativity you’re craving.  Give your judgments to the wind, and feel free to express the love and creativity you are!

And listen, also give up that judgment about judging yourself when you catch yourself judging.  Just grab that nasty ol’ judgment before it leaves the slingshot and choose a more loving thought to fling around. It’s not always easy.  But it gets easier, I promise. And you know what else is love? PATIENCE. So with patience comes love and with love comes creativity! You simply can't have one without the others. So be patient with yourself! You deserve it, and all the rewards that come with it!! Show yourself just a bit of kindness, and you'll be amazed how quickly that creative urge will emerge!

Olivia Neutron-Bomb said it best - “I love you.  I honestly love you.” And she wouldn’t lie about a thing like that! And neither would I, dadgummit!!  ‘Cause I honestly love you, too!!! (CUT TO: me in a unitard and headband, singing “Let’s Get Physical” - except instead of “physical” I sing “spiritual”...stay with that image...stay with it….you’re welcome) 💖💖💖

J. Sean Elliott