On my vacation, I was able to read a few books, one of which was Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I'll be talking more in depth about the book for my Friday Reads post, but it got me to thinking about creativity and the pursuit of it.
When people find out I'm a writer I often get the response of, "Oh, I've always wanted to write a book (or insert other creative pursuit) but I just (insert reason: never had the time, wouldn't know where to start, am busy with my kids, etc.)." They say it as if all the other creatives out there had more time, knew what they were doing from the start, aren't parents, don't have day jobs... Like somehow life gave them extra space to do it.
It didn't. Life doesn't. Yes, some people have more advantages. No question. But there are a lot more people out there who forced space into their life for creativity (getting up early, staying up late, giving up TV time or other leisure activities to create, writing/painting/crafting while the kids are napping) because they feel driven by this creative urge to make something. And no one knows what they're doing at the start of anything. Or in the middle of it for that matter, lol. It takes time to learn, to read, to practice, to fail and fail and fail.
And I'm not talking about creative pursuits that you necessarily want to do as your full time job. It could be. Mine turned out to be. Though, when I started writing my first book I wasn't thinking, This is going to be my career! I was thinking, I've always loved to write and I have a story idea. I'd had many story ideas through the years. I wrote a (fantastically awful) book in high school. So what was different this time? I finally had the thought, Why not start today?
So I did. And that book didn't get published. And the next one didn't. I got a nice pile of rejections. But by then I was hooked. And the third book was Crash Into You and did sell. Seven years and over ten books later, I have the career I had secretly wished for since I was a teen but never believed I could actually have.
It scares me to think of the opportunity I would've missed if I had said, I can't today. Because I can't today becomes I can't tomorrow or the next day or the next. I remember being completely overwhelmed at the time. I was home with a new baby, who turned out to have some special needs. I was trying to figure out motherhood. I was alone often because my husband traveled with his job and I hadn't made friends here in Dallas yet. But the writing turned out to be my respite and escape, something just for me. It was never supposed to be anything more than that. Now I can't imagine not being a writer.
That's the beauty of those things we "wish we could do one day." Often, they're more necessary to our happiness and well-being than we thought. For instance, my parents retired a few years ago after working hard in office/business jobs for decades. They should be ready to kick back. And they are, but what else are they doing? My mom, who used to be an aerobics teacher as her night job when I was little, decided that she missed dancing and creating routines. So in her late fifties, she got certified to be a Zumba teacher, teaches three times a week, and choreographs her own routines. My dad, who's always loved movies, decided to sign up for a service to be an extra in TV and movies. They live in New Orleans, which has a booming film industry, so he's now been an extra in everything from Jurassic World and The Big Short to TV shows like American Horror Story and NCIS. Their creative sides are coming out. Because even after full careers in something else, they decided, Why not today?
So I'm putting out the challenge to you. What is it you've always wanted to do? What do you daydream about or have the urge to create? Love pictures and want to take a photography class? Want to make some craft and have your own Etsy shop? Write a story? Start a YouTube channel? Cook? Dance? Whatever it is, why not start today?
Figure out the smallest first step and do it. (A lesson I read in Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin). Once you start, no matter how small, it's easier to keep going. Buy that book about writing or research if there's a dance class or buy some things at the craft store. And then plan the next step. Soon, you'll get caught up in the process (or you'll find out that--whelp, this particular pursuit isn't for me and I can scratch it off my bucket list.) Both outcomes are useful.
So I want to hear from you. Tell me what you'd love to do or what creative pursuit you're already doing. Have you found yourself overwhelmed at the thought of starting? Have you surprised yourself with an interest or talent you never realized you had?