“Oh and here’s another thing: You are not required to save the world with your creativity…Whenever anybody tells me they want to write a book in order to help other people, I always think, Oh, please don’t.
Please don’t try to help me.
I mean it’s very kind of you to want to help people, but please don’t make it your sole creative motive, because we will feel the weight of your heavy intention, and it will put a strain upon our souls.”
-Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
I read this quote and I realized that this is where I’ve been going wrong with my writing and all of my creative pursuits- I’ve been doing them in an attempt to help others and to try to understand what others might need and what I can offer, but that’s going about it the wrong way. All that creativity is meant to be is an authentic expression of yourself. I’m not being creative in the true sense if I’m creating with an outcome in mind. Creating is about the act of creating and it’s about trusting that whatever feels right is what’s meant to come out.
I’ve known for a really long time that I’ve been too focused on trying to help others. I’m sure I’ve written about that on my blog before. But I realized awhile ago that this constant pressure I’ve had on myself to fix everyone else’s problems is actually kind of narcissistic and disempowering to others. I mean it comes from a good place, but it doesn’t give people enough credit to fix their own problems or help themselves and it implies that I need to step in and do it for them.
And I don’t want to feel that way because I know you’ve got this. And I know that’s not right or fair to put that kind of pressure on myself.
I also know that it’s a waste of time to try to base my output on what I think others want or need. The only things that will feel right are the ones that I want to write, not that I feel like I should write.
In the last year or so, I’ve started noticing an interesting trend amongst the people who inspire me. I used to really look up to spiritual teachers, but now the people who inspire me most come from all different backgrounds and careers and most of them have nothing to do with wellness or spirituality. Taylor Swift, Amber Fillerup of the beauty blog Barefoot Blonde, Instagrammer Vanessa Prosser– these women really inspire me, and it’s solely because I get the feeling that everything they are sharing and creating is true to themselves. I can honestly read one of Amber’s blog posts on a hair tutorial or a new dress and I feel more inspired than reading something that is written with the intention of being inspiring, like a piece on meditation or manifestation, and I think it’s because her posts are an honest expression of who she is. It’s what she wants to be creating.
I came to the wellness world to try to expand my life, but in a lot of ways I feel like it limitied it. That’s not a criticism to the wellness world (for lack of a better term), but just how I ended up interpreting everything in it and what direction I took with it. I wanted a bigger world and a bigger life and instead I feel like everything got smaller. More rules, more resitrictions, more rights and wrongs. I don’t want to be a part of that anymore. Wellness, sure. But not my old way of looking at it. And I don’t really think I want to spend much time writing about it anymore because well, I just don’t want to.
There are a lot of wellness writers who really do inspire me, and the ones that I really connect with aren’t doing anything super different or outside of the box- they’re sharing their smoothie bowl pics and talking about the hike they took on the weekend, but it’s like it’s coming from such an authentic place. And they’re not pushing their ideas on anyone or trying to over explain anything- they’re just sharing what they know and what they love and what feels right to them.
I so understand what Elizabeth Gilbert says when she talks about our heavy intentions putting a strain on the reader’s souls. That’s how I felt. So much of my writing felt heavy because I felt like I had to explain things to people, to make them understand something, or to fix something for them. Just assuming that there was something that need fixing and that I had to be the person to do it. It’s too much, and it’s not right.
So basically I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how I can write for me, not for others. Because that’s how it works, I think. When you overanalyze and try to figure out what other people want or need, it’s probably not going to get you very far. You need to listen to what you want to do, not what you think you should do.
When I would decide to put together articles on something like a how-to list or anything like that, I honestly would just drag my feet, and it felt like homework. But when I write posts like this, it almost feels like it’s being written through me. Letting these words out is like a release, and it feels real, like this is what wants to be shared and I’m just letting it happen through my body.
So I’m going to just take some time and think about what I actually want to write. Maybe I’ll start writing again tomorrow, or maybe it’ll be in a few weeks. I’m not really sure. I’m just focused on listening to what I actually want to create, for me.
It’s funny because Elizabeth Gilbert’s book is on living a creative life, and the fact that there are probably thousands of other books out there on creativity and the creative process didn’t stop her from writing this one. A big thing for me is thinking why would I write about anything at this point- it’s all been covered, there’s nothing new to say, but Elizabeth just wrote because it felt right, and it resulted in this amazing book that is inspiring so many people. So whatever I happen to feel like writing about, I think I should just do it and not worry if it’s already been done or that it may be contributing to information overload. Because that’s missing the point about what creating is all about.
“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.
The rest will take care of itself.”
-Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
How awesome is that?