Why should we all use our creative power and write or play music, or whatever it tells us to do?
Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.
Because the best way to know the Truth or Beauty is to try to express it. And what is the purpose of existence Here or Yonder but to discover truth and beauty and express it, i.e, share it with others?
—Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write
This quote has hung above my desk for nearly five years. I can’t think of a better directive for expressing our creativity. How can we not uplift others when we are being “generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate?” That phrase makes me want to join a metaphorical conga line and dance with abandon toward my goals.
I make a point of reading it at the beginning of each year when I’m taking stock and making plans. How will I express “Truth and Beauty” this year? How will I share my “creative power” with others?
My husband and I saw a concert last weekend by Special Consensus—a grammy-nominated bluegrass band. It was their annual concert in a historic church not far from where we live in the Chicago suburbs. Tight harmonies and superb musicianship are the hallmark of this group, but what really struck me was their work ethic. Three of the four were apparently recovering from the flu, but they were giving it all they had.
Sure, there might have been some throat clearing and such, but they managed to pull off a terrific performance. It was an inspiring example of creative power fueled by a good work ethic and self-discipline; of showing up and giving it their best effort.
Creative power comes from within, but can certainly be bolstered through team effort—as evidenced by Special C. Have you noticed a boost in creativity after meeting writer friends for lunch, or attending a writer’s group, or conference? Support and encouragement go a long way toward maintaining enthusiasm and belief in what we do, whatever that may be.
I wonder if Ms. Ueland wrote those wise words near the first of the year? I like to think so. Her creative power--her expression truth and beauty--has been uplifting writers since 1938.