A while back I came across this quote from Ira Glass about creativity:
“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.
But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn't have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.
It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I've ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You've just gotta fight your way through.”
I let it simmer for a while in the back of my brain. Every now and then I would think about this quote and know it to be true, but I wouldn't do anything about it.
This January I went back to Los Angeles and I had a conversation with a good friend who told me about this writing project she has been doing. She writes every day for at least 20 minutes. She can write more if she likes but she only commits to 20 minutes a day. I was intrigued. I could do that, I could write for 20 minutes a day, and who knows, maybe something will happen.
I decided to do it as a Lenten discipline, which means from now through April 7th I will write something everyday. This is not meant to be a journal and it could be really bad, in fact I know that on multiple occasions it probably will be. And it might get really personal. This is a chance I will have to take. This exercise wont work if it doesn't test me on both a creative and spiritual level.
Spiritual you say? How can doing something like this test you spiritually? Well, I had a very heartfelt conversation with a friend yesterday and he made the observation that perhaps the cross that perhaps for some of us the cross we are supposed to take up is one of the heart. That is to say, the world has a tendency to break your heart, and for some of us the instinctive reaction to this is to put up walls against further hurt or rejection. But the spirit cannot grow and be fruitful when the heart is locked away for safe keeping.
So I will write, and in this way I hope to coax my heart out of its hiding place and see what it has to offer.