Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Gem of Great Price?

Hot gold on lime green,
The leaves turn a sandy brown.
Oh, desolate heat!

That was an award winning haiku I wrote almost 50 years ago.  There were a few forays into various forms of writing since then, but I never created the “great American novel” that I thought I had in me.  And lots of gaps till I started Bill's Spiritual Musings.  Even then, there was one more gap.  But all of those were just steps in a writer’s journey.  And food for thought.

I just finished reading Blaine Hogan’s new book, Untitled.  It was about Blaine’s experience being creative.  A lot of it seemed more personal than general.  I intend to reread it in the future to see if that perception changes.  But there were a couple of points toward the end of the book that struck a respondent chord.  Things that are worth thinking about in depth.

The first is the fear of failure.  Blaine suggested that we all naturally carry an internal critic  And there’s our problem.  That internal critic will try to convince us that we’re incapable of having great ideas, that what we create will be terrible, and, even worse, no one else will like it either.  It’s the kind of thinking that freezes us into total inaction.  The result is that we don’t act on “the next great idea”, which may or may not be a dud,  And we never get to “the next great idea” after that, which really might be “the next great idea”.

The founding pastor of the ministry I’m in often said that failure is never final.  He was speaking in a spiritual sense.  But it’s true of the creative process, as well.  None of us are so perfect that we’re never going to make a mistake.  We have to get past those mistakes to the nuggets of creative gold.  In that sense, we can relish our little failures because we know they’re now out of the way.  Some people say that the best way to be successful is to learn from successful people.  But they’re successful because they’ve gotten past their own failures and learned from them.  The one big problem with our failures comes when we don’t acknowledge and learn from them.  Because we’ll just continue to recreate them.

The other point from the book that really spoke to me was his discussion of our high speed society.  Where we deal with information in 140 character Twitter blasts instead of 10,000 word volumes.  At a speed of idea in, idea out, without time to process anything.  A diamond cutter will take a huge amount of time studying a stone, turning it over and over, looking at it from every angle, until he knows every aspect of that stone.  Because, if he doesn’t make the right cuts with his hammer and chisel, the stone will shatter into valueless pieces.  Ideas are like that, too.  Uncut by study and meditation, they remain rough and of little value.  Improperly cut by insufficient study and meditation, the resulting conclusions will be wrong and valueless.  But hewn out by proper study and meditation, the resulting thoughts will become true gems of great value.

How do you fight that fear of failure and come up with your gems of creativity?

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