One of the most exciting discoveries I made in my thirties was how much I enjoyed writing. I always enjoyed writing as a child and teenager, and I thought that I would write a book one day. I even remember asking my English teacher in school if he would help me get published when I wrote my book, and he said yes! At the time, I assumed it would be a fiction novel of some description, possibly because at the time that was all that I had read. I always had the best ideas (or so I thought), but when I sat down to write them, I struggled to flesh them out. I would get to about page 23 and then… nothing! I remember my dad’s mantra – if you get stuck then spend time on description. I remember sitting down, spending a page or two describing some forest scene, but to no avail. I honestly felt as if I had failed because I did not write that novel! (I had a conversation with my sister the other day, and I got the impression she felt the same way!! Oh the pressure we put on ourselves!!!).
I still wrote as time passed – sometimes poetry, sometimes short stories – I even remember doing a song parody while I was at university for a performance we did - but as I got older I stopped writing. If anyone asked me why at the time, I said it was because I was lacking inspiration, and at the time, I thought that was exactly what it was. I found that I was unable to write or feel creative if I was not in a good place, and I will admit to being fairly miserable quite often, for one reason or another. One place however that I was not miserable was when I was on holiday. I remember going on a great holiday when I was a student and thinking it was fantastic, but a few weeks later, I couldn’t remember many of the details. So the next time I travelled I was determined to take notes, and so my love for travel writing began. And the most surprising thing of all is that I LOVED it! I didn’t miss the idea of writing fiction at all (even though I still want to write a book). However, even though I had a great love for writing, I didn’t think I was much good at it, and I still had real doubts about being creative in any way. And I still felt as if I needed real inspiration to do any writing.
I can’t put my finger on what made me decide to write the blog. I only know that as time went by, I felt as if I needed an outlet, and finally, after listening to many podcasts, TED talks and other webinars about courage I took the leap, and started the blog. I am not exaggerating when I say that this is one of the best decisions I have made in the last few years. For me it is just the creative outlet that I needed, and I love the ability to pair my photos with it (another favourite pastime of mine). However, the biggest lesson I learned from this is a rather old one that learned when I was a teenager, and I believe it is one of Newton’s laws – a body at motion remains in motion, and a body at rest remains at rest. Inertia. Momentum. Once I started to write, it became easier and more fun. There was a time when I didn’t think I had enough good ideas to continue blogging, but the more I wrote, the more fast and furious the ideas come. Once I got creative in this way, I started to think of all sorts of ways I could get creative! I took art classes and did some paintings. I started doing some drawing. I gained confidence in every aspect of my creativity – I actually felt creative. And this spilled over into other areas. I felt as if I had a newfound energy, which was powering every other aspect of my life. Even though I may not have been using my creativity at work, when I had an annoying situation instead of being furious, I thought about how I could blog about it! My outlook improved. I looked forward to writing, to reading. I started composing poetry while waiting for doctor’s appointments. I started having ideas for other blogs, for other topics, business ideas. I became funnier, smarter (or at least I felt funnier and smarter and that totally improved my mood!!) Once I found a creative outlet, it supercharged everything!
The truth is – this was just the thing I needed to climb out of a longstanding funk that I was in. And what it made me realise is the true joy in creating something, in using my brain in a way that was totally different to how I use it every day. That the very act of creating something was its own reward. And it changed my life. I was honestly stressed and moody, and had tendencies for bouts of depression. Once I started writing, for the first time in a long time I felt excitement, joy and pride. And I appreciate the importance of actually doing something, of taking action. Not waiting for inspiration, not waiting for the energy, or for the time, or for the perfect moment. Because a body at rest remains at rest. The longer you wait to start, the longer it will take you to start, and the harder it will be to start – anything! Exercising, learning an instrument, writing, drawing, painting, dancing (even budgeting apparently – or at least this is what my best friend tells me) – whatever it is – we all have creative talent in us, and once we get it in motion we will find it easier to remain in motion. I guess the physicists were right after all! Our life is made up of the things that we habitually do. But there can also be cross pollination. I spoke to a friend last night who started doing yoga and pilates – it has improved her energy and posture, but also her mood and relationships! I have another friend who took an art class, and it seems to have had positive feedback in her business as well. I know yet another person who started learning a musical instrument, and it really inspired her at work as well. We do not know how being creative will change our lives, so it is always a great use of time. So I hope that you out there who are feeling bitten by one creative bug or another to do it! Don’t wait for inspiration – take action and call it out of its hiding place! Play, sing, dance, write, paint, knit, sew – whatever it takes – and watch and see what happens!
As a tribute to my dad and his love for description - I send you Big, enormous, beautiful love from a small, rainy (we are under storm watch today), coralstone island!
Ps - speaking of creativity, the above chattle house was once the most photographed house in Barbados (or at least that is what I was told!)