The Glow (and the Curse) of Ideas

On some of our wintry mornings (not today’s fog-full one), I see a glowing through the dark, bare trees.  At 5:30 am as I drive my swimmer teens to their daily morning practice, I’m filled with hope at the lovely colors glowing through the lines of trees.  It’s expectant, full of promise and I think of all the creative ideas I have, and have had for so long, that I desire to see come to life.  The dawning day grants me a sense that these things can happen, that I might, just might be able to see one small aspect of an idea shine full on, like the sun at noon day.  This “glow” of ideas, so many of them, often lights each day as I face it’s coming.

But there’s a flip side to having such fun, wonderful, creative ideas.  The “curse” of living with them, is that they continue to tap on your shoulder for attention until you give them some.  When the normal (and not-so normal) events of life push back the necessary time needed to see these ideas come to fruition, the tapping becomes quite heavy handed.  And if there are many creative ideas swirling around in one’s head and heart, the noise becomes deafening, the desire becomes oppressive, the shut-down thought of “why even bother” gets louder and louder too.

My husband is fond of saying, “Ideas have consequences.”  I know what he means here…ideas which are based on one’s philosophy of life, or belief system, always have consequences, both good and bad, in one’s life.  Whatever belief or philosophy you hold, it shapes the decisions you make, the paths you take, even down to very small aspects of ones’ life.  This is true about creative ideas as well.

To see a creative idea through to its birthing in real life, to say “YES” to it, requires that one must necessarily say “NO” to something else.  This, I think, is the single most difficult thing for me, as a creative person, to navigate.  To decide what, in my very full life,  has to receive LESS of my attention, or possibly NO MORE of it so that I can tend to that which I believe in great measure I’m called to, or that I desire to accomplish, or that just seems plain fun…is VERY VERY difficult, painful, and over which I spend an enormous amount of energy brewing.  Energy which would quite possibly be better used TOWARD my creative idea, rather than stewing over how in the world it might happen, and then the ensuing sadness when a whole day (weeks, years) goes by in which it hasn’t.  The “let sit and rise” part of creative sourdough bread baking often feels like the rising loaves are just left on the stove to rise, then spill over the sides and fall.  The loaves never get baked, no one gets to enjoy the result.

Julia Cameron in her books, The Artist’s Way and Walking in this World, encourages us to take baby steps in the direction of our creative ideas and dreams.  These baby steps are designed to let a little of the pressure off of this backlog of creativity, a bit at a time.  I do make every effort to do this, so as not to completely shut down the ideas and energy altogether…daily sketching and this blog are examples.  But the thing that’s so difficult, is that in opening the door just a bit in one little direction, ALL the other “on hold” ideas are clambering to come out and play too!  Like kids waiting to get out on the playground, they are pushing and shoving, jockeying for the best position to be the first out the door!! What’s a girl to do?

Well, I haven’t all the answers to this, other than to say that I’m hoping, in this idea-glowing morn, to unveil a few of these little baby steps.  In my next post, I’ll start with the first creative “kid” out the door, introduce it to you, then roll out the next one…and the next one…slowly, perhaps over the next weeks and months.  At least I’ll try.

And “try” is all any of us can do…to have the courage to try and try again.  To stick with it, little by little, saying “yes” to a creative idea here and “yes” to another there as we say “no” to other things.  To be willing to make the creative leap or jump, even if you have once before, to be willing to begin again, to continue on, to move forward, taking the next step creatively towards your ideas.  Join me.  Feel free to share how YOU are doing this…or not.  I’d love to hear.

0 thoughts on “The Glow (and the Curse) of Ideas

  1. Dr Cornelius Snorter says:

    Hello Jennifer,
    Thank you for this post. You are saying what I have found hard to put into words. For every painting/drawing/sketch I do, for every new technique I try something else must give.
    I love your beautiful style. Every few months I see something that makes me forget all the failures I have had with watercolour and makes me want to try again. I have been ‘having a go’ at sketching and maybe I should try throwing some watercolour at the pen drawings – if I can find a fountain pen and ink that is waterproof. I have been thinking of the Lamy Safari and I have heard great things about Noodlers ink (but can you buy Noodlers ink in England? I thought I heard they had stopped selling it here).
    Anyway, fantastic post Jennifer.

  2. ann says:

    Excellent post! I know that if I had absolutely nothing else to fill my time that I would still never be able to actually execute all of the creative ideas that I have now. And because they keep coming – one thing leads to the next. So, for now anyway, I filter and balance those ideas with the other areas of importance in my life. But that’s not easy either. Now if I was up at 5:30 in the morning like you…

  3. Patsy Taylor-Craw says:

    Oh, the tapping!! I’ve got it too. My mother’s musings sound in my ears, “Do your work before you play”. How do you break free. I am 33 and 25 and she said it to me again the other day! I thought that once I retire, I would have more time. Now looking at the economy and my bank account, I will retire around the age of 99+. AAAAHHHH!
    Thanks for sharing your view and being so eloquent at it. Love your art too. Good luck with the tapping.

  4. Margaret Harrison says:

    Hey Jennifer, You so beautifully described the feelings that I have had over the last 10 years, struggling with wanting to create and being pulled back by an unseen force that wouldn’t let me quite do it fully. i am creating again and am so thankful–have no answers about how to make that happen. . . I am thinking that times of mostly rest (with the agitation that comes with it) may give way to creative forces magnified beyond what was there before.

  5. Barbara B says:

    Wonderful post. Sometimes there’s so much noise and tapping going on that a person can feel like she has attention deficit disorder. How about those ideas that constantly flow through for a new project before that last one is finished?

  6. jenpedwards says:

    Oh thank you ALL for your lovely thoughts! It’s good to know others understand this dilemma. Thank you for taking the time to comment here!!

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