A few days ago I reached out to a handful of friends who were spinning their wheels creatively. I asked them if they were interested in starting an informal writers group. I had an ulterior motive.
The idea was talk to each other about our projects, provide some feedback and encouragement, but mostly to create some accountability with each other.
We met and talked about the difficulties of writing regularly. We talked about our hopes and dreams. We talked about our characters and settings. I know we all left with more fire under our ass. Sometimes that can be a good thing.
One friend texted us yesterday and said, “It’s so dang fun. I have been worried about so much crap. I have made excuse after excuse not to write.”
I think everyone who pursues a creative life has dealt with that feeling at one time or another. It’s so easy to make an excuse to not be creative. It’s so easy to put the whole process off and deal with life instead.
Suddenly, you look back and realize that months or years have passed. This is time you can’t recover. Some people walk away and never look back.
My friend just needed a kick in the pants to get back to work. Once he did, he realized how important writing is to him and how rewarding it is to create something from nothing. Some people never know what that’s like. Some people know what it’s like and then let negative people or life’s challenges get in the way.
I asked my friends if they wanted to start a writer’s group because I saw in them the desire to be creative. I knew that if we just talked about what we were doing that it would spur action. But, my ulterior motive was to keep the fire hot for myself.
That’s the circular nature of helping other people. By reaching out, I also reached in.
When I read the words, “I have made excuse after excuse not to write,” how do you think I felt? It hit home. The joy and the struggle was just as real for me.
His words have made me more fired up about my own writing. The last few days I’ve been busy on a number of things despite some family problems that usually would have shut me down. By reaching out, I reached in.
My point is that being creative is largely a solitary practice. Being creative is often a fragile proposition and it can be squashed by people who are jealous, or ignorant, or even well-meaning. Staying creative in the face of work, family, and other pursuits is always a struggle.
On the other hand, an oh-so-gentle push can make a creative person bloom. Since being creative is such a solitary activity we’re used to working without any positive reinforcement. It takes so little to bolster the spirits of a creative friend.
My challenge to you is to reach out to your creative friends and ask them about their projects. Listen to them and encourage them to get back to work. Maybe you can start a support group of your own.
Create some accountability between each other. Meet regularly and report on your progress. Do some old-fashioned show and tell.
You might be surprised by what happens, to them… and to you.