Start Over...Again, But Better ;)
A phase familiar to every creative human. Does it get easier? I think so.
Let’s start with the prescribed by Substack intro. This will only take 9 seconds:
“Welcome to The Courage to Create by me, Kerri Van Kirk. Creative Project Collaborator & Coach, Human Design Guide, Energy Worker. Exploring the courage & process to create my own projects & help you do the same.”
Now that that’s out of the way…let’s start - not at the beginning, but at where we are. Right now. September 20th, 2021.
It’s morning in my office in Midcoast, Maine. After attending a drive-in documentary film screening last night and staying out late to go support my friend’s new bar, husband and I woke up around 7:30am to get our cycle on.
Husband rides his bike like a maniac, (he literally just completed a solo cross country trip from Maine to Oregon) and I’m a big fan of the Peloton app. My rides are short and filled with motivational mantras, playlists and fav instructor taglines - his rides are filled with fresh air, rocky coast inlets and natural beauty. To each their own, eh?
I’m on the precipice of fully launching my new website, which feels like an integration of art and business I’ve been searching for for years (something I explored as the narrator of the ArtistCEO podcast).
But more importantly I’m at this familiar creative place called “Starting Again.” And I’m wondering for myself…is there a way to lose the story and become fully neutral about that?
Here’s what I mean.
I work in the emotional, mental and spiritual side of creativity as much as I do the physical act of making something - a poem, a song, a podcast, a one woman show, a business.
And when we work in that realm, something that comes up a lot is our “stories.”
“Stories” cover a lot of ground. They can be reasons to feel ashamed or not good enough, like “evidence” for our inevitable failure or unlovability. They can take the form of excuses, keeping us from facing the actual thing we need to address (like addiction or codependency) in order to live and create the way we truly want to. At the end of the day, our stories are grooves that we get stuck in - that keep us from our full expression and full power.
Our stories are baggage we just can’t seem to let go of. Emotional detritus that never got taken to the transfer station and is now stinking up your ability to create freely.
Here’s some of mine:
- I can’t make enough money as an artist, or even working with artists.
- My voice still hurts sometimes. I can’t rely on it.
- I don’t have the discipline to stick to a vocal program or rehearsal schedule.
- People used to care about my artistic expression, but it’s been a long time since I’ve brought that forward. I’ve lost my audience.
- I’m starting from scratch.
- What if this project is just like the last two and gets abandoned….
And on and on ad infinitum.
But let’s pause on the subject matter of today’s letter. To start again…but better.
How do we do this?
How do we take the shame or disappointment or grief of needing to start again, but make it feel as if we are gaining in strength, instead of like we’re fooling ourselves that anything could be different this time around?
By standing on the foundation of what we’ve learned.
Do you have judgements with the idea of starting again in your creative pursuits? If so, do this with me. If not, just read for context! (But are you lying?? lol)
Now, to be honest, I’ve done this enough times that I feel relatively neutral about starting again, but I’m sure there is more equilibrium to be found, so let’s see what’s here.
You can see at least one of my “beefs”/judgements about starting again in that last story I shared in the list: “What if this project is just like the last two and gets abandoned….”
Ooh! Dang! Look at that, using my past self against me! You too?
Maybe yours sounds like “I’m not disciplined enough….” or “I have nothing to say..” or “My story isn’t important….” “No one cares about my work…”
Start with one of them that resonates with you and I want you to explore it.
If the story is “What if this project is just like the last two and gets abandoned….” the prompt to write on might be: What about those last two projects? What did I learn from them?
If it’s “I’m not disciplined enough” the prompt to write on might be: Under what circumstances has it been easy for me to find discipline or motivation? Did that feel healthy to me? or What makes me think this requires discipline?
“I have nothing to say…” leads to: If I could talk about or research or connect with material about ANYTHING right now, what would that be? or What am I embarrassed that I’m passionate about?
“My story isn’t important…” turns into: What about my story is important?
“No one cares about my work….” turns into: Is that literally true? Is there someone who cares about my work? Who are those people?
Or find your own investigation based on your story.
Now, set a timer and write longhand for 5 minutes. Just five minutes.
See what comes out.
I’ll share my reflections in the next post.
In the meantime, tell your friends!