Getting Creative When You Doubt You Can

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad, Pexels

Last December, the oft-mentioned Kristin Duffy (actor, producer, podcaster, triathlete coach, film-maker…) asked twelve of her podcast guests to share some wisdom for the Christmas edition of The Second Chapter.

Inspired by an acquaintance who’d been made so miserable by her utter conviction she didn’t have a creative bone in her, I wanted to encourage some self-care in others, and to share what I wrote. You can hear me read it on Kristin’s podcast here.

There are many wishes in you

There are many wishes in you, who just want to be heard.

The comic, the actor, the singer, the life-changing lawyer, the stationery shop manager, the firewoman, the teacher.

The writer, the hairdresser, the artist, the forest ranger, the tour guide, the explorer.

There might be one wish in you. There might be several. No matter how many, your wish is in you for a reason.

When we don’t let a wish be heard, when we refuse to let ourselves hear what they have to tell us, you already know what happens. Unheard wishes tug at the sleeve of your consciousness. They bother. They are – understandably, dissastified. Unhappy. And sometimes, as they get older, they grieve.

Our wishes are our first creations. And every creation needs nourishment, and growth. Like those other creations – drawings, songs, kittens, children, relationships, teams – they need to be allowed their own space.

What can you do? Fill your folded arms with reasons. Reasons why it’s a silly waste of time. Reasons why people will laugh. Reasons why not. You can treat yourself like an impatient adult who’s supposed to be caring for you but really isn’t. “I have your best interests at heart.” Is that what they’re saying?

Or you can be kind, – and you can sit with your wishes and you can Wonder. Who knows what will happen if you listen? Is the outcome worse than if you don’t?

Give your self the kindest gift from the You of the present: one uninterrupted hour with paper and pen.

Listen to all those silly, insane, mad, ridiculous, embarrassing, terrible, bonkers wishes. Let them have their space. Doodle, scribble, and play. Listen to them all and don’t interrupt. Hear the wishes about who you want to be and what you’d love to do. They’re not spells – what harm can listening do?

All you’re doing is gift-giving. ike an indulgent Santa, you’re enjoying listening to yourself unwrap some maybe long-hidden dreams. Maybe not just one, but several!

And maybe, maybe you know exactly what the dream is. And if so, this gift to yourself is to imagine, catching it with words or doodles on the page, to hear what the second little step on the ladder is. Only a little step – one step is very fine!

What would be fun? What would be do-able in your busy life, given your doubts?

Aha- the DOUBTS. If you fancy it, draw the Doubt Monster – the “Don’t Monster”. Maybe it’s vomiting handcuffs. Then give it a silly name, a silly voice, silly shoes and silly clothes.

See it tiny and ineffectual jumping wildly like Rumplestiltskin next to your brilliant, shining wishes and your ladder of small steps.

Then see yourself laughing at it kindly. Give it a pat on the head and watch it burst into tears. It really needs a hug. It’s just scared.

Give it a hug and watch it dissolve and then get back to the you-time.

Because you’ve got dreams to listen to and steps to design, haven’t you?

You’ve got a secret and it’s really bloody special.

Give it a code name. Then put a secret codename hour in your diary every week where you will plot some more tiny steps. Sometimes you will do your tiny steps no problem first time. Sometimes it’ll take a few weeks. That’s called adventure.

When you’ve done it four times, you’re on your way, ten times, twenty times, and even just once.

By listening now, you’re on your way.

Have a great adventure. It starts with one step. Listen, really listen to your self.

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