For many people, this is the last week of summer before school begins. I always find that this is a quiet week, one where I consider the idea of creative renewal.
When you are a kid, September is the “start again” period. As an adult it is just another month of routines.
Today I want to talk about how you grow as a writer. How you reconnect with what drives you to create. How you feel a sense of renewal in your creative drive.
Too often, our writing or art is lost amidst the responsibilities of life. We struggle to find the time to create, and when we do, we face a mix of confusing signals. This has always been best summed up in my favorite episode of the TV show The Office.
Pam is a receptionist by day, but has been taking art classes. Here she is at her first art show, her paintings thumbtacked to the wall. She stands there, lonely, her work on display for others to accept, reject, or in this case, ignore:
While a lot of friends and colleagues say they will stop by, only one or two actually do. Oscar struggles to find anything positive to say about the art:
They try to be supportive, but it’s been a long day at work, and they have other things on their mind. In this case, Gil criticizes Pam’s art, and she overhears it:
As she comes to the end of the night, she begins taking down her artwork. She was hoping for validation, but received just the opposite:
Then suddenly Michael shows up, apologizing for being late. Look at this image, the artist waiting for the viewer to give feedback:
But then, one of the paintings connects with Michael, he sees something of himself in it:
His expression changes from one who is observing the “other,” an object, to one who is connecting with the art. In this image, Michael and the art are one:
The artist sees this. I mean, just look at her expression:
Michael looks at Pam and says, “I’m really proud of you.”
Out of nowhere, Pam hugs him. Someone sees her as an artist, and connects with her work:
This series of images illustrates so much of the journey that writers and artists go through. The apprehension of sharing you work, of wanting to be seen for what you create, and to have it connect with another human being in a meaningful way.
This process begins with creative clarity. Knowing what you want to express. Deciding what you will create. Persevering with the craft amidst an otherwise busy life.
It means continuing even when there is no validation. Even when you feel your craft isn’t hitting the mark. Even when there are setbacks.
Just a few weeks back, I mentioned how author Jeannie Ewing is in my Creative Shift Mastermind, and that she begin writing her memoir. At the time, she had written 15,000 words in just a few weeks. Right now, she is up to 45,000 words.
That is what creative clarity brings. It leads to action, and to work that allows us to grow as writer and individuals.
When I consider the idea of creative renewal, I think it is important to consider what drives you to create. I’ve always liked the phrase “Going back to the well” — returning to the source of your own inspiration that gives you the inner resources to create.
As the summer turns to autumn, I’m thinking a lot about this for myself and my own writing.
I want to offer a resource to help you dig into your own creative clarity. During the week of September 9th, I am offering a free weeklong workshop where I take you through my Clarity Card process.
What are Clarity Cards? It is an exercise where you get clarity on what you create and why, and you prioritize this amidst the rest of your busy life.
At the end of the 5-step process, they look like this:
They look simple, but they have a powerful way of reframing not just your creative goals, but your entire life. I have taken hundreds of people through this process, and have used it myself for years. I have seen this exercise lead to profound breakthroughs for people, as well as practical ways to find more time and energy to write.
You can find my Clarity Card process here, and an example of how one writer is using them here.