Wonderful, Terrible (Terrible, Wonderful)

Today I saw creative lesson unfold in warp speed as I watched a video of a little boy finger painting. (A friend's son. So adorable!)


But then he looked at his messy, paint covered hands. He didn't know what to do.


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My wise friend gently took her son’s hand and put it on a new sheet of paper.

“Make hands,” she said.


But after a few tries...


In the span of sixty seconds, this little guy made it through a whole creative cycle. He was inspired. He faced a setback and experienced sadness and self-doubt. Then he got some support and kept going until he was inspired again.

I’ve experienced my fair share of despair and self-doubt while engaging with my creativity. I’d look at the mess on my hands and wonder why the heck I even started the project. I wanted to quit. And I did quit. A lot.

Nothing creative happened when I just got up and washed my hands. I had to stay with the mess, keep visiting it, and sometimes even get some support from other people. Eventually there wasn’t a mess any more. There was just a thing that I had made, no hand washing or quitting required.

Every creator you love has gone through this process, so you are in good company. Sometimes it’s wonderful, terrible, really really terrible, slightly ok, or magnificent (sometimes all at the same time!) That’s how poems and dances and paintings happen, and how your art can happen, too. 

What can you do today to get through the terrible? Got an idea? Good.

Now go on and do it, because it will get you through to the wonderfulness of being a creator. Promise.