The Fear of Work as a Creative – Moving From Good Enough to Excellence
“The biggest mistake you can make is assuming that creativity will hit you all at once and the muse will carry you to the end of the book on feather wings while ‘Foster the People’ plays gently in the background. Storytelling is work. Pleasurable work, usually, but it is work.”
Maybe it was my mother saying “girls shouldn’t run or play sports.”
Maybe it was my inability to concentrate on topics that didn’t come naturally to me, like Physics and Geometry.
Maybe it was the belief that was instilled in me early on, “that men should take care of woman financially.”
Or maybe, it was just my dreamy Cancerian nature that loved to read, walk in the woods with my animals and float about the world from one thing to another.
Whatever it was, it never occurred to me until I was in my mid thirties, going through a divorce with a two year old and very little professional experience or marketable skills that I realized that was going to have to learn how to work.
Yes, I’d had jobs before, but they were mostly part time and were always something I considered “temporary” until my real life “happened.”
Also, I was not willing to work in retail management or at a PR agency, two things I had made money at before, because I was not willing to be away from my daughter all those hours.
That love for my daughter (who is now eighteen) was a powerful force, and as I sat alone in my old adobe house on Galisteo Street, pondering my options, it struck me, it struck my privilege, it struck my fear based perfectionism, it struck the terror in me, that I was going to have to find the power inside of myself to make a living off my art.
And, that I was going to work hard at it.
Luckily, as I sat in terror about how I was going to create work for myself, from who I am at my core, an actor, facilitator and writer, I did remember to pray.
I asked for a vision for work that I could throw myself into. And, indeed, that night I had a dream that gave me very specific guidance about the next steps in regards to my life’s work.
I’ve followed that vision, and, over time, I have become someone who not only embraces her work, but revels in it. The work has supported me and my daughter for the last sixteen years. To say that I am grateful is a gross understatement. It means everything.
How did I get here?
1) I followed the dream I had, which was to create writing and performance workshops for people with cancer. Although I had written and performed three solo shows before this, this was really the launch of my professional career. It ended up with a published book, two $100,000 contracts and a feature in Oprah’s Magazine. Wow. Did I mention that I launched this all with zero dollars, and zero investors? At the time, my only priority was to make $3,000 per month so I could pay my mortgage, car payment and for my daughter’s pre-school every month.
2) I embraced a writing practice to guide not only my creative visions, but this career that I was pulling, literally, out of thin air.
3) I found like-minded others to help me along the way. I sought out and created a community heart centered, creative men and women who were living their lives in a “road less traveled” kind of way.
4) Kept the candle of faith burning brightly in my heart. I affirmed through good and bad times that there is a purpose to this life of mine and I would continue to work towards it, and for it, as a devotion. As Alice Walker says, our creative and social justice work is the rent we pay for being on the planet. If you can tie it in with a career you create (which is entirely possible) you are blessed beyond all reason.
5) As I gained momentum and began to create projects that changed not only my life, but others, I realized that work was not really work. It is passion in action.
So whether you’re taking this year long course in hopes of creating a daily writing practice, or finishing a book, or getting up the courage to start performing comedy, or creating your own business, the lessons are all the same. Whatever shifts you are wanting to make, to embrace a more soulful, creative life, it is yours for the taking.
Do you have any idea how powerful you are? And….(drum roll, please)………… here’s the caveat.
No excuses. You’re going to have to work and work hard. You’re going to have to show up when you feel like it or not. You’re going to have to call people you’re afraid to call. You’re going to have to ask for help even when it feels scary and vulnerable. It’s going to demand things of you that you deeply resist. Ultimately, it’s going to give you back ten thousand times what it asks of you, but you have to give it the time and attention it needs first.
Your creative projects, your right livelihood, your life purpose…these are no less of your children, that the ones you birth from your own body. Indeed, exactly like a real child, after you birth them into the world, they require tremendous care, attention and nurturing before they can begin to stand on their own.
It’s not easy. Forget expecting it to be easy. Instead, shift your thinking away from “easy” to “worth it”
Keep showing up.
Assignment for Today:
Write or Do Solo Improvisation (speak out loud with a recording device turned on) for twenty minutes today on any of these topics:
1) What is my relationship to work?
2) Do I believe that I cam be financially abundant from doing my deep, purposeful work?
3) Where does my passion intersect with my passion and livelihood?
4) In the area of work, what is my unrealized dream?
Assignment #2: Ask for a Dream Tonight:
1) Ask your subconscious, inner being, God (whatever lines up with your own beliefs) for a dream tonight. Ask to be shown, clearly and specifically, the next right steps on your path to purpose, creative fulfillment and your right work.
2) Keep a journal next to the bed so you can write it down as soon as you wake up.