When my sister told me she had been invited to write a chapter about her creative journey for an upcoming book, I asked myself, “What would a snapshot of mine look like today?”
Everybody’s creative journey is different and deeply personal.
I just spent the winter “soul spelunking”. It wasn’t an intentional path into those deep chambers of my soul, but it was a necessary one. I am still discovering my creative voice along with the courage to use it, share it. In the process of finding both, I sometimes get sucked down into the darker recesses of myself.
At times I run from my creative self. Fear and self-doubt put me on a path winding through the land of uncertainty searching for answers to the questions, “Do I really have something to say?”, “Is sharing my writing what I want to do?” and, more importantly for my mental health, “Is this what I need to do?”
The answer to all three is yes.
Listening to Creative Wisdom
Little by little, one travels far. ~J.R.R. Tolkein
The best way for me to overcome any lack of self-confidence and self-belief is to answer the invitation of my creative self. It knows who it is, what it says, what it does, and how to do it. My creative self is wise. When I listen to it, it acts as a guiding light as I explore my internal caves searching for answers. It’s my lifeline back to the outer world.
One thing I have learned on my creative journey is the importance of self-care. It’s difficult to create in a fugue when it feels like I’m doing nothing but hitting my head against a brick wall. There are days when I am unfocused and lack concentration. It doesn’t mean I am a failure at being creative. It just means I need to measure my progress in baby steps rather than giant leaps. It might mean a page in my journal versus completing a novel chapter. And it could mean not writing at all, but feeding my spirit through reading or being outdoors.
Seeking a place of solitude to open myself up more to the creative voice within me, I discovered the trails and abandoned settlements of a nearby mountain. The site has become my personal refuge. As I amble along the trails my mind grows quiet and my soul finds peace and purpose in nature’s healing embrace. The Norwegians have a word for it—skovstilhed, “forest tranquility” or “peace of the woods”. This is a special place where my creative self finds inspiration. It was on this mountain where an unexpected source showed me I could make a difference in someone’s story, even a century after his death. It was my creative voice that gave me the courage to follow through with that project.
The Gift of Gàidhlig
If you’re going to learn a new language, you can’t try to be perfect. You’ll stop yourself from talking. You just have to let go. ~Yao Ming
And in searching for my creative voice, I find myself learning to speak another—Scottish Gaelic or Gàidhlig. It is a beautiful language of ancient bards, singers, and storytellers. Along the way I have met others who also feel its irresistible pull. One reward of learning another language is the growth of self-confidence. It’s sometimes painful, but if one is serious about mastering a language, one has to use it. That means taking advantage of every opportunity I have to speak it. It’s been pushing me out of my comfort zone, and that’s a good thing.
My creative journey via Scottish Gaelic takes me to Skye for summer classes. The Isle of Skye itself—The Misty Isle—is a place of an inexplicably deep soul connection. As soon as my foot touches the island, my creative spirit feels like it is welcomed home. I am one of many who experience that sentiment. Skye is a magical and inspirational island that satiates the creative soul. It is a place where the imagination thrives and plays.
Sharing the Creative Journey
Writing means sharing. It’s part of the human condition to want to share things—thoughts, ideas, opinions. ~Paolo Coelho
Finally, I have met so many people who have encouraged me to continue on this journey. People who believe in me. Like my sister. One of the most priceless treasures I’ve collected along this creative path so far has been reconnecting with my older (and wiser) sister—a woman I admire, love and hold as an example of a creative life well-lived.
At one time, I would have said I aspire to be like her, but I’ve learned this creative journey is a personal one fed by my experiences. It is those unique experiences that feed my artistic fire. It is what burns in my soul to be put on paper. My sister’s example gifted me this new clarity.
The conclusion of my wintertime inner-spelunking expedition is this: We are not here to compare ourselves to each other. We are here to find our own creative voices, to feed our own creative fires. It is our privilege and obligation to share those gifts, not hide them, especially out of fear. By sharing our creative gifts, we nurture and strengthen our self-confidence.
And we never know who might find encouragement and inspiration through our sharing.
Sharing, but never comparing.