Thursday, April 13, 2017

Keep the good stuff. Toss the rest!

April A to Z Blogging Challenge, hosted here.

My theme this year is exploring the link between mental health and creativity. See my stance on this here.

 K is for Keep

A large part of life is about what you choose to keep and what you toss. Many of us cling to old ideas, past hurts, and mistaken beliefs--about life, the world, and ourselves. These things can often be holding us back without our even being aware of it. Another way to look at this problem is as one of focus. Are you focusing on the useful stuff or the useless? 

Ajhan Brahm, a humourous buddhist teacher whose speeches I love to follow, has a story/saying about life. To paraphrase, he basically says we are all chicken farmers. And to be successful chicken farmers you go in the coop and gather the eggs and toss out the chicken shit. You don't go in and gather the shit and toss the eggs away. And yet, in so many areas of our life, we are keeping the wrong things.  

There are so many ways that letting go of old garbage can help you grow as a person. I think that has been covered in depth by far more clever people than I. However, I wanted to touch on how important this is for creating as well. When it comes to criticism, advice, and all the "rules" that are tossed around regarding your craft--only keep the stuff that serves you. If anything you hear/read/are taught doesn't seem useful...well, toss it!

In writing, people like to toss around all these "rules" all these do's and dont's... but the real truth is there is no one way to make art. There is no right or wrong. 

I spent a long time trying to figure out "how" to write. This author says never do that. But this one over here does it all the time. This agent/editor says this thing is an instant rejection, but this other agent/editor says they are looking for precisely that thing.  It's maddening. I would have someone "experienced" tell me I was doing something wrong in my writing, spend a bunch of time "fixing" it, only to have others then complain that those changes were what was wrong...only to end up changing it back to what it was originally. (If I was lucky--often it just ended up a mess!) It was maddening. Confusing. And it stalled me.

Don't let this happen to you. Sure, welcome feedback. But only keep the stuff that feels right. 

Keep what you want to keep. 

Keep that thing that is so inherently YOU in your work!

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