When you find yourself avoiding creativity
“I get this feeling that you’re lying about something, Melissa. Like you’re just not telling me something.”
I sighed deeply on the phone.
“You’re right,” I slowly admitted, “you’re right, Daddy.”
It had been over a year of me making up excuse after excuse on why my website wasn’t up. I was starting to worry my friends, my acquaintances – and now my family.
Somehow, it had been over 5 years since I had written just to write. I could rattle out copy for other people with zero effort, and I could create an emotionally honest Instagram/Facebook post while half asleep. But the blogging I had done for years with the ease of a baby dolphin in water – well, that had somehow become so difficult that I had found every excuse under the sun.
But the truth was that I was scared.
“Why?” asked my ever-patient dad.
“Is it failure you’re afraid of?”
I started crying. It wasn’t any old future failure I was afraid of, but confirmation of my current failure.
“I’m afraid that I’m not good enough,” I began.
“I’m afraid that I’ve lost what I once had, and that I’m no longer a writer.”
Saying those words out loud was like a release, if only because they sounded so ridiculous to my ears. My father seemed to think the same thing, because he chuckled and told me not to be silly.
“You can’t lose things like that, Melissa.”
I rolled my eyes, thinking he didn’t understand, as I listened to him continue.
“I may not be in the same industry, but I have this sometimes, too. The trick is this: You just have to start.”
His last words rung in my ears, with a familiarity that only a lesson you already know could have.
“Just begin – let it fail, even. You’ll figure it out. You’ve read so much. It’s in there already – it’s just a matter of it coming out.”
Little did my father know just how much truth he had just spoken. Was he aware, that day, that he had saved me? Probably not.
Because here is the truth, dear reader:
After the marketing industry had just about killed my inner artist, whenever I thought about writing, I was filled with inner-critic thoughts about the final product that I needed to create. I had forgotten that my best work was created by simply starting, and letting my trust in myself take me over. No great work has ever been conceived in its entirety before it was started. The point of art is in the journey, to different degrees, and stopping that flow is what is killing artists and stopping their success before it even gets a chance to become.
So today I’d like to challenge you to start that thing you have been putting off – and remember that your only two tasks are as follows:
- Begin anywhere.
- Trust yourself to do what is right – whether that is continuing with it, or quitting prematurely. There is no wrong answer.
I wrote this in honour of Father’s Day. My father had an 18 year old rebel dumped on him after having been denied the experience of being a father for most of my life. Despite our massive differences – he is a logical engineer, I am an artist who lives in a fantasy world – he has shown patience, growth, and understanding that can only be matched by some of the best people in the world. He is a simple man in some ways, and yet has guided me better than any person with my complexity ever could have. While many men choose to run and hide from what they fear, my father chose to take on the baggage of an adult he couldn’t raise as a child, with all the problems that could come with someone who (at the time) suffered from chronic physical and mental illness. I owe him gratitude and love, as much of who I am today is thanks to a man who chose to do the right thing – every day – even when he could’ve chosen otherwise. I am glad I got to witness what it means to be a good father.
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