I love this picture, it sums up creative U-turns perfectly!
Last week I almost had a creative U-Turn due to my ego, the old behaviors that I’m working on dissolving slowly slipped in for a moment. Last week a friend of mine shared an open mic event through the Victoria writer’s society and for some reason I was excited and said maybe I could read the first few pages of my manuscript. There was something within me that wanted to share my work, something that I wanted to overcome, my fear of public speaking and fear of not sharing my work. The true self within was pushing out to be heard!
That afternoon she sent me an email with the details and copied the other women who also wanted to read at the event. By the next day I was part of the group to read. I didn’t think anything of it until I sat down and started to figure out what I would share. I changed my mind on the content I wanted to share, and by the middle of the week my old behavior was writing an email to the group sharing my fear and maybe I wouldn’t read. I was watching my old behavior taking over, then I received supportive comments from the group and tips on how to get myself ready. Then I shared my fear with a few people at work and the said I should just go for it, it’s totally natural to be nervous, which I near in my head, but somewhere else within me I wanted to run away and not share my work, the one commitment I set for myself, I was in a creative u-turn.
What is a creative u-Turn? I have to thank The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron for the simple and direct answer:
An artistic u-turn arrives on a sudden wave of indifference. We greet our newly minted product or our delightful process with “As, what does it matter anyhow? It’s just a start. Everybody else is so much further ahead…” We are now on the road, and the road is scary. We begin to be distracted by roadside attractions or detoured by the bumps.
A few examples that Julia provides:
- A screenwriter has an agent interested in repping a script with a few changes. He doesn’t make the changes.
- An actor is told to get his head shots together and check back in with a prestigious agent. He doesn’t get this head shorts, doesn’t check back in.
- A painter is invited into a group show, his first, but picks a first the gallery owner.
- An actress-producer with a solid script is offered a studio deal to further develop her project. She finds fault with the deal and then shelves the project entirely.
Julia also shares:
In dealing with our creative U-turns, we must first of all extend ourselves some sympathy. Creativity is scary, and in all careers there are U-turns. Sometimes these U-turns are best viewed as recycling times. We come up to a creative jump, run out from it like a skittish horse, then circle the field a few times before trying the fence again.
Have compassion. Creative U-turns are always born from fear – fear of success or fear of failure. It doesn’t really matter which. The net result is the same. To recover from a creative U-turn, or a pattern involving many creative U-turns, we must first admit that it exists. Yes, I did react negatively to fear and pain. Yes, I do need help.
I made up my mind that I would do the reading, and deep down I always knew I would do it, maybe with a great amount of fear, but I knew if I gave into my fear that I would be in a creative U-turn and I didn’t want that. I had to work at the hotel the night of the open mic, so it was all about balance. I left the hotel where I just dealt with customer service and I entered the event with fresh eyes. There wasn’t a lot of people when I arrived, the two other women I was grouped with welcomed me with open arms and I sat down to listen to the others presenters for a few minutes. Then when the first woman of our group got up to read her work the fear rushed into my body. I felt my face become so hot, I knew my cheeks must have looked as red as beets, and then my arms got a little tingly and my legs were weak, oh no, now what?! I took several deep breaths and listened to the first woman read her work, a funny young adult book dealing with real teenagers issues, I listened as my body yelled more, “hey, you’re nervous stop listening and feel this pain and nervousness.” I took another breath as the woman finished and the second woman of the group got up to read a section of her mystery novel. Then the fourth member of the group arrived, then the rest of the writing group that was there to support us arrived, now I was really nervous. My body began to yell again, “hey, you’re nervous!” I took my deep breaths and waited for the woman to finish her reading, I now just wanted to get this over with, and then it was my turn.
I stood in front of the audience, said hello and said “I’m just nervous, so there’s that.” Everyone laughed and I felt a little better, I had their attention now and I started to read. There was another bit of laughter, because of another ice breaker moment and then some more laughter where I intended to be funny in the chapter. I did witnessed my voice become shaky, I took a breath to clear the nerves and continued, and then it over. I thanked the audience and went back to my group where they gave me praise and I thanked them and praised them for their readings and for their support. Then within a half hour my face felt cooler and my body started to relax, the ordeal was over and I survived, more importantly I did it! I followed through with a commitment and didn’t run away scared. Celebration!
Now a few days later it feels like a blur, what was the big deal? Oh yeah, public speaking, sharing my work I’ve never shared before. I was able to push through the fear, I knew if I backed out that I would take steps back from my manuscript and the other stories I’m working on, I would feel upset with myself and want to hide and then not write because that’s what I use to do. Now, I’m ready to write more and get back to my manuscript. Something changed during that event, and I’m so proud of myself for telling the ego to politely mess off and follow through with my dreams.
Have you experienced any creative U-turns? How were you able to overcome them? I’d love to hear; we learn from one another’s experiences and I think that’s part of our lives; to share.
Until next time, keep on typing…