I just learned an important lesson tonight about respecting my own creativity. You know how I’ve been wanting to write a book? Well, I set up an impossibly crazy deadline to complete the project in about six weeks. And it’s not working. Which is a good thing. Because self-expression needs to be nurtured. It needs the tender loving care of quality time.
My self-imposed schedule called for writing a few chapters every night this week, and finishing 18 chapters by Saturday. (Are you rolling your eyeballs yet?) Well, guess how many chapters I have right now: two. By the way, did I mention that I also doing all of my own illustrations, two or three per chapter?
All this is pretty funny, especially since I’ve been so earnestly delusional. Well, the true good news is that I believe in my material, which I’m not prepared to discuss in detail (yet). But one of my themes is how messed up I am because I grew up in a Confucian household. My parents were all about the Confucius values of respecting elders, family first at all costs and sticking to the pre-ordained game plan.
Since my parents never wanted me to be a writer or artist, I’m now wondering if this need to produce the book in a terrible rush stems from childhood habits. I used to hurry up and read novels or sneak over to visit friends before my parents came home from work to scold me for not studying. Maybe I’m still sneaking around because I’m not used to having the right to revel in my own choices. Is that possible?
So here are my four tips, which I will be practicing from here on out…
Tip #1: Embrace those so-called “crazy” ideas. It’s easy to put down our undernourished dreams by calling them “crazy,” which implies they’re not reasonable or valuable. If we gave these ideas room to breathe in a respectful environment, they might blossom to make our lives more exciting, meaningful and fun.
Tip #2: Make time to do the things that create happiness. Since I spent this evening writing, drawing and blogging, my true cravings were satisfied. Not once did I wander downstairs to the kitchen for a frustrated raiding of the pantry or fridge.
Tip #3: True friends are worth trusting. I am blessed to be surrounded by people who believe in me — even more than I believe in myself. They’re the ones who constantly encourage me to make the leap. If I self-deprecatingly refer to my crazy ideas, they will say, “What’s crazy about it?” They make more time for me than I’m willing to make for myself.
Tip #4: Stop rushing. We live in an insane Wifi-driven age where everything is about instant access. I am constantly rushing between work, errands, even yoga. Am I nuts?! Rushing is just another way to avoid intimacy. What happened to living in the moment?
The bottom line is that I will continue on my book project, but with even greater delight and respect. No more shortchanging this dream from the attention it deserves, which means no more shortchanging myself or those around me either. It’s time to breathe!