Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Motivation - On creating

"When I have a terrible need of - shall I say the word - religion. Then I go out and paint the stars." ~Vincent Van Gogh

On a message board over the weekend, someone posted about how worrying about reviews and what people think paralyzes her to the point that she finds it hard to write.

I get that it's hard to have people judging your art. It is really, really hard. But each of us has to figure out a way to continue to create once our work is out there. Yes, there may be times, before a book's release or immediately after, that we simply can't. I get that. The "noise," either in our head or around the internet, can be very distracting at times.

I think it comes back to the discussion I had about success recently though. We need to learn to find success IN the creating. I gave this analogy on the message board, and I thought I'd share it here.

If I made jewelry, I might make a bracelet, sell it, then someone would buy it and wear it. Maybe no one ever comments on that bracelet. When she wears another one, tons of people comment on it. But I'm back in my house, making more jewelry, because I don't follow my jewelry around to see how well received it is, so I never know if anyone comments or not. And I don't know that people like the other bracelet she wears a lot more than the one I made. If you asked me if I'm happy about the bracelet, I'd probably say, of course, because it found a wonderful home and I got paid for doing what I love.

I love Vincent Van Gogh's quote because what it says to me is that creating art for him was a deeply spiritual thing. It brought him closer to God. Without getting too "religious" on you, I feel the same way. I wrote two books last year that literally felt like a gift from God as I wrote. I look back at the writing of those books with such joy and fond memories. Now, not every book is like that. I don't know why. But when it is, I take the gift and am thankful for it. And maybe the books that are harder to write are meant to teach me things. In any event, our job is to write the best book we can. And then to revise that book as best we can, again and again and again, as many times as we need to, with or without an editorial letter.

After that, our job is done. It's time to look for a new story to create. As Sara Zarr said so well HERE, we have to learn to separate our identity as a writer from our popularity as a writer, because they are NOT the same thing.

It's not easy, I know. We want people to love our work. But in order to keep working, to keep painting more stars or designing more bracelets or writing more stories, we have to wish it well out in the world and let it go. And go back to our calling - the art of creating a story where none existed before. Which never ceases to amaze me that we DO that!

Be amazed. Be excited about what you do! Because isn't it just SO amazing and exciting? I think it is!


  1. I love this post, Lisa, and I totally agree with you and Vincent. Creating brings us closer to the Divine--however we define that.

  2. This is a great post.

    We have to go on, to keep creating, because that is what we do. (And I love the bracelet analogy!)

    Well done.


  3. Great analogy.

    It is amazing what writers do. As a reader, I appreciate it so much. As a writer, I strive to make it happen.

  4. I love this post, and I love your analogy to the what point in this process does the act of creation become so much about the reaction of others that we lose that starry night kind of feeling?

  5. Love this post and love this quote. And I agree, it is so exciting to read something that we've created--even if we are the only ones besides CPs and family that do--and know that we did that. I am also one to believe that God plays a huge part in helping the creative process :-)

  6. Ah, the books that are hard to write. I have one of those in progress. I've been avoiding it for a while by focusing on smaller projects.

  7. Thanks Lisa. This post hits straight to the heart of the matter concerning creativity. You hit the nail on the head. Create your art, release it, then move forward. This post is going on the wall above my desk. Such a simple concept, so hard to practice...