Inspiration, Procrastination, Optimism, Realism: The “isms” of a Creative Life

Dear friends,
For Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, I fasted from the Internet and television (you’re supposed to fast from food, of course, but I couldn’t quite make that sacrifice!). The purpose of fasting is to mark the day as “different” somehow, to remind yourself that this day is set aside for contemplation, prayer, restoration.

It worked. As I got past the jitters I found my mind returning (had a I “lost” my mind? In a sense I had…) I got reacquainted with a self who knew patience and a slow curiosity. I looked at some of my writing, and as I read got ideas for new pieces. I wrote a little bit, which led to more writing. Writing begets writing: an old chestnut, something I tell my students all the time, but can forget the truth of it myself.

And yet the Internet does often bring me inspiration too. Holly sent me a link to a blog by Star Rush, and this post is titled: “A Creative Mind Needs to Work.” In it, she speaks about how the creative mind needs regular practice, just the way we practice any physical endeavor. We need to keep the creative mind active and busy:

Creative action leads to inspiration. Inspiration leads to creative action. Waiting tends to lead to neither. By creative action I mean the task of practicing one’s creative expression as often as possible,with attention to frequency of practice and not perfection of outcome….


This is attention to practice, not attention to perfection. Each day isn’t going to yield excellence, far from it. Each day yields confidence in one’s vision, one’s ability to produce not just a creative product but produce inspiration itself: 1. To be curious about the world and one’s place in it, and 2. To cultivate the compulsive desire to investigate and express that curiosity in whatever medium one wishes.

This is a wonderful aspiration. Yet, for many of us, we procrastinate the creative life, without quite knowing why. In this article by Tia Sparkles, from the blog “A Year With Myself,” she looks at procrastination, itself, as a creative tool:

It starts with understanding why you procrastinate in the first place…Procrastination can be a fantastic tool that can help you figure out what’s really important to you, what you love, what you’re passionate about, what inspires you…. It’s a true indicator of your essential self, the part of you that doesn’t often see the light of day but points you towards your North Star….

When you stop to ask the right questions, you get the answers you’ve been seeking. Ask yourself what your procrastination is trying to tell you. What message it wants you to get. What direction it wants you to go in. Listen. Understand. Act.

And as a balance between the optimism of Star’s blog with the pragmatism of Tia’s article, I’ll share with you my Pisces horoscope from The Daily Om (their daily missives are always so right on!)

We can achieve our goals more efficiently if we strive for a healthy balance between optimism and realism. While our optimistic attitude lends positive energy to our actions, we might be tempted to believe that our journey will be smooth and effortless. Rather than sabotaging ourselves with expectations that are too high, we can instead choose to inject a dose of realism into our goals. We are then able to use our optimism to fuel our actions and continue along the path to our goals, while at the same time develop a flexible attitude that helps us to overcome challenges and persevere. With this combination of optimism and realism, the achievement of our goals becomes much more possible. Your hopeful outlook can further your goals if you choose to temper it with a dose of reality today.

May you have an inspired, optimistic, realistic week ahead.


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