How to stop pushing boulders in your creative life (and what to do instead)

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The tealight in the red candle holder on my desk is flickering and sputtering, ready to go out.

"No, wait," I want to tell it. Because I don't want this time to be over. These quiet moments in the early morning, when the house is still and the darkness presses against the windowpanes is sacred to me.

I've just spent nearly a full week away from work for the Christmas holiday. The first few days it was hard to let go of "work that needs to be done" (and isn't there always work to be done?), to put away my to-do list and just be. Be present, be uncomfortable until I could get to the point of being comfortable. Be quieter, be more open, be less frantic.

And finally, just as I hit my stride and felt the month's worth of overwhelm and overdoing finally washing away, it was time to return to work.

A new year looms before us (is "looms" too sinister a word?), and deep down we want it to be the best year ever. We want it to be THE year that we complete this creative project or enjoy this success, that we take our art to the next level, that we get our big break.

And so we try over and over again to make things happen. We take one step forward and five back. We push and pull and throw ourselves against boulders because it's what the experts tell us is necessary to our growth/success/path. But what if it's not? What if, rather than forcing things to happen, rather than trying to move boulders, we instead picked up pebbles?

What are pebbles? The easy wins. The steps in our creative journey that are meaningful and real and come easily to us. The article that comes directly from the heart and is immediately accepted by a publication. The painting that you pour yourself into and which resonates with everyone who views it. The song that tumbles out effortlessly because its based on your true experience. It finds its mark with listeners through no promotion of your own.

For years I have been trying to force my creative writing into something that I could label successful. I had a writing business for nearly eight years, but during that time I never found "it," that one outlet or type of writing that launched my career where I wanted it to go, that filled my heart and made my soul say, "Yes, this is it." And in the process, I grew very jealous of other writers' success. 

Now, I'm working with new goals, these set with Spirit in a time of quiet and reflection. Two doors have recently opened that I barely had to knock on. Rather than pulling and heaving at boulders or banging my fists against doors until they bleed, I'm trying something new and different. Tossing pebbles (ideas) into a pond (the world) and seeing where it leads me.

What about you? Are there areas where you feel that you've been trying to force things to happen creatively? Maybe it's a new project, or an old one that you've resurrected. Perhaps its marketing your work, trying to get it out into the world for others to connect with.

Please share in the comments not only a particular struggle you've been dealing with, but also how you might replace it with a pebble. I'm happy to help make suggestions, too, with your permission. Sometimes the power of like-minds opens new doors or unveils new pathways.

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