I have always been a lover of learning.

I loved school as a child.

I couldn’t wait to start my college journey after high school.

The thought never entered my mind that I wouldn’t go to college. There was never really another option for me and I think that’s because I couldn’t imagine skipping an opportunity to be in another setting where learning was the highest priority.

It didn’t scare me that I didn’t know for sure what I wanted to study or even if what I chose to study would eventually pan out into my ideal job. I think deep down I knew it was a journey. And part of that journey was simply choosing to say “yes” to the next best thing and being open to where that “yes” would take me.

And so it went.

Post college, I secured two different jobs in the teaching/academic realm over the course of 4 years. Then the timing seemed right and I went to graduate school. After that program, I went on to volunteer and then work for a non-profit organization for 2 ½ years total.

And so it went.

Never once was I “bummed” that the next best thing to say “yes” to turned out to be schooling of some sort. I loved it.

And I still do.

So, although it’s been quite a while since I’ve been “in school,” I still love learning. I love attending conferences, reading nonfiction & hearing about the journey of others. Through this, I learn, grow & work to find the next best “yes,” as a mom, writer, friend & lover of Jesus.

And my next best “yes” in my writing journey seems to be one where I will become more well-versed in technology. Gulp.


{learning to make & edit videos}


{learning about teleprompter apps}

I am learning about “best practices” in regard to sharing your art with the world. As I do so, I’m finding that many creative experts whom I look up to seem to center around this idea:

Is it really art if you aren’t sharing it?

Seth Godin, author of 18 books that have been bestsellers around the world, writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. He says,

“Art is the work of a human being – something a person does with generosity to touch someone else to make a change for the better.”

And I believe that is true. Completely. 100%.

The phrase “art for art’s sake” seems to have come to mean, just create art because you like to create art. But, as creatives, there seems to be a deeper desire to affect the universe with our art in one way or another.

Sure, I love to write, just to write, but not really just to write.

I want to affect change. I want others to be touched and inspired to become their best selves as a result of my writing.

Art truly becomes art when the goal isn’t just production, but the goal is human connection for the greater good of society and the world. Because in the end, isn’t that really what this entire life is about? Human connection? Changing the world?

And yet….

There is this other side, this other part, this other way of looking at our creative work. And it goes a little something like this

I think we need to fall in love with what God is doing in us, with the way He looks on us, and really appreciate the unfiltered version. Not the part of us that’s writing for the whole world to listen, I’m talking about the part of us that’s writing to write because we feel moved to, because we feel called to, whatever the reason. I think it’s super important to not edit yourself the first time, you know? Give yourself a good, honest-to-God, unfiltered run. Make sure that every single day you are reading and writing and that your process is completely unfiltered- that you are as honest as you can possibly be. Not all of that is going to make it into songs that the world will sing by lyric. But the history and faithfulness will. Your process will come out in everything you do. They’ll feel the world you put in, the honesty. People can smell fake from a mile away. They won’t buy it, and God surely doesn’t. That’s what I’m finding in my own life, He already knows what’s in me, so I might as well be honest with myself.”
Steffany Gretzinger, singer/songwriter
via Cultivate Volume IV
on cagelessbirds.com

So, I guess the question becomes, “Why are you doing what you’re doing?” Why are you creating? Why do you desire to do so? Why must you write? Paint? Sing? Cook? Sculpt? It’s a question I ask myself often.

For some, the answer may be so clear and consistent 100% of the time. If so, you might have an inner dialogue of, “I write to inspire others. I write to see change happen. If I’m not doing that, I don’t even want to write” (insert whatever creative medium you desire). Or, “I only write because I enjoy it. There’s something about sorting out my thoughts on paper that is therapeutic. I don’t know if anyone will ever read my thoughts, and I’d actually prefer they not.”

Yet, I’d venture to guess that for most of us, our creative process and reason for pursuing creativity is a little bit of both.

Just the other day I was having a conversation with a friend and explaining the pendulum swing that I often experience in writing. Sometimes I want to do it, simply because I have things to get out of my heart and mind. I want to write my experiences and thoughts down for the sake of enjoyment. It is therapeutic. It is a way I communicate with God. And yet, there are also times where I feel restless and I want others to have a chance to experience what I’m creating. I want to put my work out there for others.

I believe that a bit of both is healthy and good. I land, most often, in the thought of “let it be whatever it is on any given day.”

Permission. Grace. It sounds so lovely.

But, for me, it’s often a safety mechanism.

In allowing it to “be whatever it needs to be” each day, I give myself permission to not create or stick with a plan or goal.

I give myself permission to give up
on parts of my dream because they feel too difficult,
because I don’t see the next step.

So yes, both are true. Art is personal and we have to allow ourselves to fall in love with what God is doing in us—unedited, unfiltered, raw and true. Let the tears of deep sorrow and big joy spill onto the paper as we pour our hearts out there.

And at the same time, we are not islands, meant to exist void of community and connection. We are created and gifted to be a gift to others, right where we are. In our brokenness and our “not yet figured it out-ness.” I will always believe that is true. The words of authors that I enjoy reading the most are those originating from authentic (in the mix of figuring it out) sort of places. Their imperfect process brings me life and assures me I am not alone and we are all actually “in this” and connected more than we believe.

===

And so, I pursue both. And sometimes it feels clunky and unnatural. I am working out a rhythm for both. And no one can tell you exactly what your rhythm should be. It’s something you have to discern for yourself.

{my thankfulness journal- modeled after Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts- 
where I write strictly for me and for Him}

{Part of my summer book stack, a mix of technical and inspirational}

The shift between “writing for the sake of writing” and “learning the technical” that is required in order to share my words with the world via different mediums (currently learning video) feels so strange.

But I do it.

And at the end of the day, I sometimes ride on the high of knowing that I just took the exact next best step and it feels oh so good to be doing so!

And other days, I sit in a place of deep trust that God is in this process and although outwardly the day may not have felt like a success, He is there and He cares and He’s working. And He looks on me with joy and I bring Him great pleasure and that none of this has to do with what I’ve accomplished or not. Or even how I feel about what I’ve accomplished or not.

And I’m coming to discover that is all part of the creative process and it’s not by accident, but by design.

Growth and life exists in the tension.

Anymore, when I feel pulled a little in two directions, I begin to anticipate the growth and life that will eventually spring up.

If we are able to sit in that place of tension,
become aware of what is happening in us in the midst of it,
and respond as necessary,
we will grow.

Our best life, our best creative gifts and our most beautiful offerings don’t spring up from a place of ease and comfort, but from the hard work of sitting in the tension.

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