Whenever I'm faced with the task of creating (and by creating I mean writing) something, whether that be a actual research paper, a poem, a story, or even an email, I do my research. I like to know everything I can about something before I take all the interesting tidbits I've gleaned and weave them into my own thing. In my recent obsession with creativity and raw storytelling, I've learned a lot from several artists, writers, and creators. This week, I sought out Elizabeth Gilbert's take on creativity and writing. As one of my writerly role models, Gilbert has come through for me in more ways than she knows. Her book Eat, Pray, Love fell into my lap at a time when I most needed it; she's the reason I studied abroad in Rome. (As I look back at the times when I read EPL, I'm thinking right now might be another life phase where I could use her story.) She gave a TED Talk on creative genius, which I guess makes her an expert of sorts, or at least a person with something to say on the subject.
Gilbert's creative mantra can be summed up in two words: "Show up." We've heard this before--the idea that hard work will get you where you need to go. In an interview given after the success of Eat, Pray, Love, she says, "It doesn't need to be good, it just needs to be done." If we do our part, creativity and genius will show up--and if they don't, well then it's not our fault. We did our job. Gilbert calls creativity a "scavenger hunt," where we must pay attention to "the thing that gives you that little tweak," and we do that by the simple act of sitting down and being present to our work. She credits her favorite writers with doing just this: showing up, writing, and "letting go of the results. Not going to war against anyone else, or against their talents, or against themselves.”
That's what I'm doing, and what I will continue to do. I will write and write some more. It won't all be good, but it will be and it will be mine. I have this picture on my bedroom wall. It's graced the walls of nearly all my bedrooms since I was in high school, and I once called it my mantra. I think it's very simple advice that's also quite challenging. It's been the underlying current to this end of the year creativity series, a strong focal point for me when all the inspiration and knowledge overwhelms me (in a good way). I may not always be brilliant, but at least I will be here when it shows up.