Tied to the Mast: Seven Sirens of Your Creative Journey

Posted on Aug 13, 2013

DSCN0117_1Today I’m preparing for my Tuesday night class. We are in our final few weeks of a course that’s been continuing online since the end of March. Tonight’s topic is Nurturing. Station 10 in the Wheel of Creativity. The task of Section 10 is to protect the New Thing. This station is about respect for and responsiveness to the fragility of new life. It is about listening as well as guiding. “I’m not sure how I’m going to get from here to there, but this is what’s on the table in front of me, asking for my attention.”

I’ve been deeply inspired by the evolution of this group of creative people, all of whom reached out for support around projects they feel passionate (and a bit fearful) to bring into the world. I’ve witnessed their personal growth won because they’ve set sail for new discoveries. And I’ve been awed by their creative vision, personal risk taking, and staying the course despite some serious distractions. And, like the mythological sea nymphs who lured sailors off course to their deaths, those distractions are the sirens of the creative journey.

To Serve and Protect

Each of us sets out to create something in the world because we felt a calling… a longing as I like to call it. And that longing has us do things we would not have otherwise done. Nurturing is that point in (3/4 of the way through) the creative cycle where you are called to protect the fragile, immature New Thing while it matures. That New Thing could be a:

  • Prototype
  • First draft
  • Sketch
  • Melody line
  • Maquette
  • Reading
  • First date
  • Written menu
  • Business model
  • Or… (fill in the blank)

Tying Yourself to the Mast

Protecting the New Thing comes in many different forms, depending on what that thing is, what your circumstances are and what your particular approach to life is. But here are the seven sirens you need to protect it from at this stage:

  1. Premature expectations. Think of a field of corn. Each corn plant needs 60 to 90 days from planting before it is ready to harvest and eat. We would never expect young corn plants to feed us when the shoots break through the soil. But our expectations for the New Thing are often not so realistic.
  2. Outside influences. I have a friend who is a painter, who avoids seeing other people’s creative work when she is creating something new. She doesn’t want her work to be influenced by someone else’s.
  3. Other people’s visions for your work. Everyone has an opinion, and very often if you talk about your vision, someone will say, “Oh, you should do this.” That can be a discouraging distraction from your own creative voice, unless your work is collaborative at the start. This will be addressed in Harvest.
  4. Naysayers. Often family or people who have known you for a long time will tend to limit you: “Oh, you always . . . ,” or, “You never. . . .” They have their own ideas of who you are from their experience of you, and your process of transformation will not fit their pictures.
  5. The inner critic. Most of us have an inner perfectionist who would never permit the release of the New Thing because there is still too much work to be done. This voice must be moderated or it will become toxic to creativity.
  6. Comparison. Someone will always be better, and someone will always be worse. Someone will do it faster, and someone will fall behind. When we compare our process to others, we are pulled out of our center and find ourselves being spun around the outside of the Wheel. We all have our own unique life processes; it is our work to trust them.
  7. Other people’s jealousy. Likewise, as we compare ourselves to others, others compare themselves to us. When we begin to move through our lives deliberately, on purpose, drawing closer to nourishing ourselves by our own hand, other people notice. And they are not always happy for us, especially when they do not yet trust their own ability to do the same.

Station 10 is an experimental time in the creative process. There are steps, risks, falls to be taken. This station requires you to do your work so that you don’t force your own agenda on the New Thing.

If we don’t look within ourselves and acknowledge the repetitive patterns, then we will continue to fail to nurture what is most important to us. And we will not develop beyond where we are. But this thing, so important to us, motivates us to look and to grow beyond where we would otherwise give up, or where we have always given up before.

Tie yourself to the mast if you have to, but stay on course! Your creative process has the power to transform you if you do!

Nurture Yourself!

I will be starting a new course this September. If you’d like to learn more about the power of your creative process to transform your life, shoot me an email at katherine.robertson@mac.com to register for one of my Free Introductory Calls.

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