“Could ‘Hamlet’ have been written by a committee, or the Mona Lisa painted by a club? Could the New Testament have been composed as a conference report? Creative ideas do not spring from groups. They spring from individuals. The divine spark leaps from the finger of God to the finger of Adam.”
A. Whitney Griswold, from The Teachers’ Book of Wisdom
There’s something both intimidating and comforting about the notion that creativity is an inside job and that you have to fly solo. On the one hand, it means that everything is up to us — we have to go to the page alone and wrestle with it alone. Sure, we can get help from time to time — advice from mentors or from our critique group. But when it comes to the actual job of creation — it’s up to us. No one else can say what we have to say, but us. And no one can put their butt in the chair and write it, but us.
And ironically, that’s the good news, too. Because no one else can write what we want to write. We don’t have to depend on anyone but ourselves to get it done. We don’t have to wait for permission. We don’t have to wait for approval. We don’t have to wait for a green light. We are the green light. All we have to do is green light ourselves and get going.
Now, I know as well as anyone how tough this can be. We face obstacles — all kinds of obstacles: family concerns, day-to-day work demands, health issues. Any and all of these can seem to be stumbling blocks. And then, of course, there are the distractions that pull us from the page: entertainment, social obligations, social media.
But in the midst of this, let’s not kid ourselves. Let’s remember that what really counts isn’t any of this: It’s our commitment to our own creativity, our own decision to take the divine spark inside us and fan it until it shines and we can share it with others around us and those we may never meet personally, but who will meet and know us through our words on the page.
So, let’s enjoy the holidays. Let’s take time to be with family and friends and be fully present to them. Let’s take time to relax and enjoy ourselves. But let’s not forget to do even a little something every day to fan that spark of ours and keep it going. It can be something small, like jotting down a phrase we overhear at a Starbucks while we’re having a cup of cheer. Or taking a little time to play with a paragraph that’s been giving us trouble, or jotting down a few different scenarios for a scene in a story that we know isn’t quite right.
Let’s keep our divine sparks fueled with intention and action as we all write on!