A guest post by Vivienne Neale
Giving up the day job — you know, the full time, secure, pay check every month, kind of day job — to pursue what others might term a crazy dream is daunting beyond belief. Not many have confidence written right through them after all; it’s like leaping from a cliff, hoping against the odds there might be a soft landing. It’s scary stuff alright!
When you give up the safety net of a more conventional existence, many things simply disappear. This can feel shocking, but can also be extraordinarily liberating. The constant drain on creativity, which is the teaching profession, had really taken its toll on me after many years’ service. The cycle had become one of hanging on for the holidays, then throughout the break panicking about the return to work! I can’t say it was a positive way to live!
I had little time for creative output, or so I thought. Interesting, though, that as I review those years I am amazed at how many things I actually produced while working full-time. I published non-fiction books, resources, poetry, set up a literary paper, contributed articles to national newspapers and completed an MA dissertation! I realized I had developed a neat way of working between interstices, almost without realizing, and that’s something worthy of consideration.
As a consequence, when I finally quit working full time for a salary, the ironic thing was I immediately felt paralyzed. At one point I even wondered whether I was addicted to those tiny creative niches I used to carve for myself and the expanse of prairie that now opened up before me was far too daunting. Yes, dear reader, I virtually stopped writing for many months.
Cue self-doubt, lack of confidence in my decision-making skills and all the negative gremlins that ambush your mind when an opportunity presents. It took quite some time to realign myself but now, as you can imagine, I cannot contemplate working at anything else! So what have I learned from this?
I guess having time to observe closely instead of rushing around, awareness is heightened. It’s funny how the decision to embrace my creativity has brought some extraordinary people into my life. Maybe I have wandered into theirs as I am no longer focused ahead instead of looking around me. It does appear, however, that whatever I need seems comes my way. This has happened so often, the word synchronicity is one I use regularly, although others may view it as something different.
I almost feel slightly hesitant writing. I am convinced, when the path you choose is truly the right one for you, things do literally fall into place. It’s like finding the key piece of a tricky jigsaw and suddenly finding you are able to complete a whole section easily!
I am also a great believer in being curious. After all ‘A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind’ and that is exactly the point. By being ‘prepared’ you can be open to opportunities which otherwise you might have passed without noticing as you scurry onto the next ‘must do’.
The most significant difference, for me, is that I observe much more closely these days. The Impressionist blur of the past has been replaced. Yes I do still walk into the odd metaphorical lamp post but I have shed my fear of success which was really what was holding me back.
I no longer concentrate on my fear of failure. Action makes a tremendous difference to just about every aspect of life, especially when creativity is at the heart, remember you have to keep pedaling like fury otherwise you fall off.
Goethe stated: “Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it.”
So what are you waiting for? Being afraid never was the most original excuse for postponing the pursuit of a cherished dream.
10 Tips To Consider When Planning A Creative Change In Life.
1. Put yourself first. Think carefully about what you want from life. Understand that everyone else can learn to fit in with you. Really.
2. Keep a daily journal, written first thing in the morning, every morning. Begin to tune in to your honest thoughts. Insights will come thick and fast if you employ journaling, I promise.
3. Necessity is the mother of invention so when you are forced to earn a living from your creativity it does focus the mind sharply! Lose the safety net. Trust me!
4. List what is important to you and what you can afford to ditch. Do you spend money as a cure for the emptiness of not pursuing a cherished dream, for example? What can you learn to live without? (Think people as well as objects!)Can you spring clean your life to find space for your creative self? Work hard on these lists and they will throw up solutions. It’s true!
5. Stop listening to advice for a while; keep your own counsel and consider what YOU really want from life. Then start looking for positive affirmation. Ignore the ‘wet blankets’ who basically don’t have the guts themselves to take the leap themselves. Have confidence in your own decision-making abilities! Essential!
6. Look for patterns in your life, constant, stubborn dreams, important creative milestones, things that refuse to roll over and die. Find simple ways to work towards them. Surround yourself with things that remind you of your dreams, however trivial: a postcard, a quotation, a photo, a pot of paint brushes. Treat yourself!
7. Keep in touch with your thoughts; don’t allow your positive thought processes to be sabotaged by gremlins or other people who don’t want you to change (for whatever reason).
8. Do one thing as often as you can to nurture your ambition.
9. Begin to draw, paint, write, dance, sculpt, take photos, make films. Don’t consider the quality, just keep creating. Without realizing you will have stepped onto the road taking you to your destination. This is very different from standing at the side, hoping you might be able to hitch a ride.
10. Smile, smile and keep smiling at everyone and everything; it will convince you and convince others too!
Vivienne Neale is director of both a writing retreat in Portugal and also VNWS Writing and Editing Services. For inspirational courses, mentoring or simply a change of scenery visit Writer’s Retreat.