Creativity doesn’t come easy, at least not for me. It’s more of a fight with plenty of ups and down. Often it involves climbing to the top of one ladder, only to discover the need to jump off. Through it all I’ve discovered that striving to become more creative is a challenge worth the reward, because it helps us to become more of the person who we were designed to be.
In my own journey, I’ve found that when the creative spark is ignited we create our best work and lead more meaningful lives. Yet, becoming creative isn’t as easy as it seems. So I set out to write a book on the topic with the goal of helping others to become more creative and alive. And I’m super excited to announce that as of last week, the book has been released! The title of the book is, The Creative Fight. Check out the trailer below:
Do you want to become more creative? If so, read on! Below are a few stories, images and ideas that I hope will strike a chord and inspire you to fight the good fight and live a better life. Let me begin by introducing you to the cast of characters that I hope will inspire: Miguel, Andrew, Jack and Chuck. The first character you probably know. His full name is Miguel de Cervantes. But what you probably didn’t know, is that…
Cervantes Was Thrown Into Jail
The imprisonment was a mistake. Cervantes was innocent. He had every right to shake his fist at god. Anger, self-pity and bitterness would have been par for his plight. But he chose a different way. He began to write. And he wrote words that would last for all time. He wrote about dreams, life and death. He wrote to remind us that the fiercest giants aren’t always so – sometimes giants are just windmills in disguise. It was in prison, fighting his own fight, that the writing of Don Quioxte began.
Cervantes once said, “Too much sanity may be madness and the maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be.” Rather than bitterness and defeat, the imprisoned Cervantes chose a different path. That’s what creatives do, they see what the rest of us overlook. And they see what isn’t even there, but what might become.
The next person I want to introduce you to is Andrew. Andrew is a bright eyed little kid and there is a lot that makes his story unique. Yet for the intent of this post, one thing stands out…
Andrew Was Born Without A Hand
It was a shock to his parents, but nothing they couldn’t embrace. Andrew didn’t really know any different and he was a happy little guy who made the most with what he had. The whole family pitched in whenever they could. Yet, at preschool all the other kids raced around the playground on trikes. Andrew tried to keep up with his pals, but he couldn’t steer with just one hand. It was disappointing to see him limited in this way.
Andrew’s parents and his occupational therapists just had to figure out how to focus on the problem in a new way. There had to be some way to help. The first few ideas were awkward, expensive and impractical. They were about ready to give up. But great parents don’t quit.
With some more effort, a potential solution was found. The idea was to duct tape a hard plastic cup to the handlebars right where you would normally put your hand. Then Andrew could stick his arm into the cup and steer. They showed Andrew the modified bike, and without hesitation he hopped on and raced away. Can you imagine the smile that spread across Andrew’s as he pedaled around with his friends? When Andrew’s mom told me this story my eyes filled with tears.
Creativity Is Contagious
When we witness creativity, it gives us courage to be creative ourselves. It unlocks something that has been buried deep. It gives us the boldness to stand tall and to pursue our dreams.
Yet, creativity requires guts. It requires ditching the excess baggage that we all carry around. This is the baggage of self-pity, excuses and defeat. Becoming more creative means getting back up even when we get knocked down. That’s exactly what happened with Jack.
The Now-Famous Jack London Wasn’t Always So
London grew up in a working class home and dropped out of school at the age of 13. He worked 18-hour days. At the age of 21 he followed the crowds north to take part in the Klondike Gold Rush madness of the time. He returned home broke. Hoping his writing would fetch some cash, he submitted his work only to be rejected again and again.
He wrote, “I have never been so hard up in my life. If I die, I shall die hard, fighting to the last.” In desperation he pawned everything of value he owned including his watch, bike and winter coat. He wrote and wrote on a borrowed typewriter, but still the rejection letters came. During his first five years as a writer he received an avalanche of over 500 rejection letters, but still he didn’t give up. He had to fight to keep his dreams alive.
The secret to his success? You can’t wait on the sidelines but have to jump in. In his own words he said, “You have to go after inspiration with a club.” And this wasn’t just true for the beginning of London’s career. Years later in an interview he explained, “I’m damned if my stories just come to me. I have to work like the devil for the themes.” Writing was never easy, so he didn’t wait for inspiration to strike but chose habit instead, writing 1,000 words every day of the year.
London said, “There is no such thing as inspiration. I thought so once and made an ass of myself.” For London, inspiration was getting to work, and when he put pen to paper it was like hitting flint with steel.
As the artist Chuck Close put it, “Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.” And this isn’t just a flippant, off-the-cuff remark. Chuck Close was tragically paralyzed over twenty years ago, yet as a successful artist he continues to thrive. Before the paralysis, Close was considered one of the top artists of his time. Now, almost 30 years later, his reputation endures. His work before and after the incident is equally profound. When asked about his paralysis, Close is dismissive and doesn’t like to draw attention to himself. He explains, “I don’t like to be seen as a hero. I have a few rocks in my shoes, but I paint just as before.”
As a photographer myself, I find Chuck Close’s perspective a relief. He gives me the courage leave my self-pity behind and to create. Chuck is brave artist and an accomplished photographer as well. He once said, “I think that while photography is the easiest medium in which to be competent it is probably the hardest one in which to develop an idiosyncratic personal vision.” Getting good at photography is hard. It’s a fight, but it sure is a lot of fun. There is nothing like capturing a moment and savoring life in a more intense way.
So If you’re like me, and you desperately want to learn how to create your best work and live a more epic life, I would be honored if you checked out my new book. Here’s a link to view it on Amazon – THE CREATIVE FIGHT. Yet book or not, I hope this post has reignited your own passion to fight the good fight and to pursue the life for which you were designed! Thanks for reading and feel free to reach out!
Last but not least, thanks to Scott for the chance to share! And thanks for inspiring and empowering so many of us to reach for a higher goal. Your influence on my own life has been profound – I lead a better life because of who you are and all that you do.