5 Affirmations for Recovering Creatives

5 Affirmations for Recovering Creatives

5 Affirmations for Recovering Creatives. Written by Jess Davidson. Painting: Detail from “Self Portrait” by Angelica Kauffmann

As we begin to write, to tell our stories, to turn toward our creative natures, many of us are also recovering from years of negative feedback about the creative process or our creative work.

We may have been told by authority figures in our lives — parents, teachers, etc. — that our creative work, our writing, our stories, weren’t as important as other tasks or activities or responsibilities.

We may have developed habits of keeping our finished work private, or procrastinating and putting off the work in the first place, in order to soothe our fears of our work not being acknowledged and accepted.

Coming back to our own creative natures is a courageous act. We know that we must do our Real Work, but we have learned, over many experiences in our lives, to mistrust our creative work and our creative selves.

Affirmations can help anchor and steady us, and encourage us to keep going, when we begin to have feelings of overwhelm or incapability.

Below are five affirmations for remembering that you have what it takes to tell your stories and do your creative work.

The Affirmations

I write for myself first.

Writing is a joyful activity for me.

I am capable of writing my story now.

Every word I write is making me a better writer.

My capacity for my work expands as I do my work.

How you can use affirmations

A few ideas for you …

Any time you sit down for a writing session, first write down (by hand) your favorite affirmation five times in a row.

Write your favorite affirmations on sticky notes and place them around your writing space, in your notebook, or onto your laptop.

Set your favorite affirmations as alarms or reminders on your phone. You could set each one to go off once a day, multiple times a day, or on alternating days.



Your Turn

Do you use any affirmations for your creative well-being? What are some of your favorites? How do you use them?



If You Don't Feel Like a Writer, Be an Apprentice

If You Don’t Feel Like a Writer,
Let Yourself Be a Writer Apprentice Instead

If You Don’t Feel Like a Writer, Be an Apprentice. Written by Jess Davidson. Painting: Detail from “Jeune fille grecque” by Charles Amable Lenoir

I have no idea how to tell this story.

This thought pops up somewhere around, oh, day three of prep week for my first short story. (My goal is to write three in the next three months. I’ve got a very official looking six-part plan for prepping and writing each month, complete with weekly deadlines, etc.) But halfway through the first week of this new adventure, and there I am, feeling like a fraud, completely paralyzed.

Are these characters right? She’s kind of cliché … Is she just me? The relationship between these two characters is too complex for a short story. How am I going to express it in a few pages? Am I making a mistake setting the scene this way? Maybe it should be told from this new character’s point of view. Maybe this story is too important to be the first one I try to write.

That last thought? That’s when I know I’m picking up momentum in a direction I do not like. Instead of feeling the joy of finally allowing myself to be creative again, instead of affirming my reclaimed identity as a writer, I’m beating myself down, and I’m trying (desperately) to rationalize my fear of being outside my comfort zone as meaning that I’m actually not ready to be outside my comfort zone. And I know that that’s just not true.

Writers write. But also, apprentices learn.

I am a writer, and so are you, if we write. Plain and simple. But if we can’t allow ourselves to write because we’re too busy being wrapped up in all the insecurities we have about being beginners, then maybe we just need to come at it from a different angle.

So I can’t quite feel comfortable claiming being a writer yet. Okay. But I do feel like I can be a pretty decent writer apprentice.

As a writer apprentice, I get to do the work without the pressure. I get to focus on the process of learning to write the stories I want to write, of learning to write the characters that I want to read about.

I went to the library and checked out some short story collections: The Unreal and the Real by Ursula K. Le Guin; Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman; The Best American Mystery Stories of 2016; a couple others. As a writer apprentice, I’m letting myself observe how other writers perform their craft, how they tell their stories, how they convey their characters, how they pace their scenes. It’s okay for me to not know how to do these things yet, because as an apprentice, I’m a professional learner.

As an apprentice, I’m a professional learner.

As a writer apprentice, I get to have the opportunity of gaining experience through practice, of building habits, of experimenting and letting myself try things that, y’know, might not work out how I’d hoped. And as a writer apprentice, that feels more welcome. As a writer apprentice, all the writing I’m doing — even/especially when it feels outside my comfort zone — is just making me a better apprentice. And someday, I’ll be a better writer for it.

Thinking of myself as a writer apprentice allows me to do the work I want and need to do — writing — without getting hung up on those feelings of not knowing enough or being good enough at this yet. If I’m paralyzed by my own ambitions of being a writer, of what I should be creating (or able to create) as a writer, then I don’t even get to start.

So, for now, I’m a writer apprentice. And, for now, that’s good enough.

It's Time for Women to Write the New Stories

It’s Time for Women to Write the New Stories

It’s Time For Women to Write the New Stories. Written by Jess Davidson. Painting: Detail from “Orphan Girl at the Cemetery” by Eugene Delacroix

Awakening woman, don’t try to tell me you don’t have something to say about the state of the world. I know you do.

Awakening women have stories to tell. More importantly, we have stories to re-write, for our own good, and for the good of all women. As we go on our own journeys, we begin to see things in a new light, and we begin to know, deeply and with certainty, that many of the narratives that have been written for and about women (mostly by men) aren’t cutting it anymore.

What moves men of genius, or rather what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.

Eugène Delacroix

Women need new narratives and new heroines to model the full complexity of the experience of womanhood. We need honest, accurate, and even hopeful reflection of the nature of women and the potential for women.

I wrote my book without a plan. I just decided to begin and see what stories I needed to tell. I didn’t know the plot I was writing at the beginning. I didn’t know the themes or conflicts I was writing. Hell, I didn’t even know my main characters’ names until halfway through.

But as I wrote, I learned a lot about what has clearly been on my heart. I wrote the things I felt it was desperately important to talk about. I wrote about mothers and daughters, I wrote about marriage and partnership, I wrote about stubbornness, fear, wisdom, and surrender. I wrote about women in the midst of their competence, and I wrote about women in the pursuit of something (other than romance).

I wrote a story that I needed to see told.

And I’m going to keep on creating new stories, new narratives, and myths, that I need myself. And someday I hope to share them, because I believe that we all benefit from women telling the truth about womanhood.

Truth lives in fiction. Fiction allows us to tell the truth in ways that are larger than just our individual experience, but which become universal. Fiction reveals us, and fiction can redeem us.

This is a call to every woman who has felt a story pulling on her heart.

What is the work inside of you that you’ve been avoiding? The thing you know you have to create that you have felt unprepared or unable to make? The thing you’ve been afraid to speak into existence, the thing you haven’t felt ready to own up to yet?

What is the creative work that your awakening is calling you to do? What do you know you need to make, to create, to express for womankind?

That creative work is your Real Work. And it’s time you got started.

Let this be the year that you give your heart to your creative work. Don’t let another year go by without writing the words, without telling the stories, without saying what needs to be said, without creating what you wish were in the world.