I woke up crazy early this morning with an idea for a song playing in my head. At first, I wanted nothing more than to roll over and go back to sleep. I semi-consciously engaged in an internal battle between the artist in me, excited about its shiny new idea and the tired sleep lover, desperate for a few more Z’s. For simplicity, we’ll call them Inspiration and Procrastination. The conversation went something like this:
Inspiration: “Wake up! I have an amazing idea for a song!”
Procrastination: “WTF? I’m tired, leave me alone.”
Inspiration: “I think it could be really good and I’m excited about it RIGHT NOW!”
Procrastination: “Tell me about it later. It’s too early to write a song. We need sleep.”
Inspiration: “Yeah but if we go back to sleep, I may not remember the idea when we wake up again.”
Procrastination: “If it’s any good and worth pursuing, you’ll remember it.”
And that’s when I remembered something a friend of mine told me recently that has been making a huge difference in my creative process. His advice was: when a good idea strikes, the key is to use that initial burst of inspiration to take the idea as far as you can then and there, before the wave of creativity dissipates.
Sounds simple enough, but anyone who’s ever tried to take an idea from start to finish, let alone be consistently creative and productive, knows it’s one of the hardest things to do.
Let’s face it, we all have good ideas, great ones even. But ideas come and go. If we don’t do something about them, if we don’t AT LEAST write them down, leave ourselves a message or record a voice memo, they disappear and often don’t return. Or we’ll let an idea slide only to later discover someone else has made that product, told that story, written that song, etc. These experiences can be frustrating and discouraging – unless we choose to use them as reminders to go for it the next time, rather than allowing them to take the wind out of our sails and intensify the resistance that kept us from creating in the first place.
And how does that resistance show up? Well, Procrastination is definitely one of my leading creative buzz kills. There’s also Perfectionism, Over-Analysis, Fear of Failure, and Addiction, to name a few. For a really good read on all the various ways that Resistance to creative expression and any soul-expanding endeavor shows up, check out The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
And let’s be very clear about one thing: bringing our ideas to life IS soul-expanding, and it’s a big part of why we’re here. Creating is one of the greatest joys of the human experience and one of the ways in which the Divine within each and every one of us gets to be expressed. It’s also one of the most powerful sources of connection between us and our highest selves, and with one another. If you’ve experienced the thrill of riding a creative wave and making it to having something that even resembles a complete work, then you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever heard a song, been told a story, seen a picture, gone to a performance or watched a movie that moved you in some way, that spoke to your heart, and that stirred something in your soul, then you know what I’m talking about.
And what’s amazing is that we all have that potential and each and every one of us has our own one-of-a-kind flavor to offer. We could all stand in front of the same sunset, appreciate its beauty and feel our connection to life and to each other. Yet the moment we go to write about it, take a photo of it, paint it, describe it, no two expressions would be alike. You have your one and only voice, writing style, artistic angle, taste buds, eye for fashion, etc. and it comes to life when you take an idea and EXPRESS it!
There are tens of thousands of songs about love, but no one else has written the one that I got up to write this morning.
Yup, I did it. I let inspiration win for a change and it felt damn good. And if I had gone back to sleep, that song would have never happened. If I let myself be discouraged by the million and one reasons I could come up with not to create and take chances, I’d be miserable and unfulfilled from denying my dreams and my potential. And if I lived my life that way and made the same choice over and over again, I would miss out on one of the greatest gifts of being alive and die with my soul full of great ideas that never came to light.
So what great idea have you been putting off? How would you feel at the end of your life if you let all your ideas slip away instead of seizing the moment to bring forth what you were born to create? Are you willing to roll up your sleeves, dig in and let Inspiration win?
Published by The Daily Love (May 19th, 2013)