The KEY. To. CREATIVE. FREEDOM.
That’s kind of a lofty promise, no?
Bear with me for minute.
I am working on a project. It is very much still in its infancy. But I’m going to tell you what it is.
I’m going to tell you what it is precisely because not telling you is what is holding me back.
I am writing a collection of micro-essays which will ultimately come together to form a memoir of childhood and coming-of-age.
Excuse me for a minute while I breathe deeply. My anxiety is roiling.
Okay. I think I’m good.
The thing is this: our fear of what others will think of what we are creating is a huge reason that many of us don’t create AT ALL.
Or why we stop and start.
Or why we never share our work, even after we’ve completed it.
And for those of us who write about ourselves, we worry even more about the reactions of those near and dear.
So I want to offer this thought for your consideration:
The key to creative freedom is the willingness to be vulnerable.
I don’t mean, of course, that you have to spill every little secret from your past without a care. Or that you have to walk around with your heart on your sleeve.
I mean that if you can put your work out there – or even just the idea of the work, as I did above – it will be less and less uncomfortable each time.
Not quite convinced? That’s okay. I want to offer you an exercise in vulnerability.
Step 1: The next time some one asks you what you do, respond
“I am a writer.”
And when they follow up with “Oh, what do you write?” (which they always do) you can answer truthfully.
“I write _____________.”
“I am currently working on _________.”
“My next project is ___________.”
Step 2: Stop. Do not make excuses for anything you just said. Do not qualify with “I mean, it’s just a hobby…” or “you know, it’s just a stupid little story…”
Let them react however they are going to react. Their reaction has nothing to do with you.
Let them admire your bravery or doubt your ability. That is their choice.
Let their reaction roll right off of you like drops of water.
And follow these two steps the next time someone asks you what you do.
And the next time.
Then go home and write.
Because your stories are worth your trust in them.