Saturday, August 7, 2021

Do Something That Doesn't Matter

 "Be brave enough to live creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You cannot get there by bus, only by hard work, risking and by not quite knowing what you are doing. What you will discover will be wonderful: Yourself." 

                                                                    ~ Alan Alda

In the context of this little blog and the summer creativity series I'm leading, Alda's words really resonate. It takes courage to be creative, because it means putting our true selves on display in the world, and that, of course, opens us to being judged. Even if it's only about the new haircut you decided to try, or changing up the way you dress, or the new drapes in your dining room, (which I'm still not sure about!) showing our real selves to the world is a courageous step. 

Last week's post encouraged us to set goals. A day later, I got a small stye in my eye, which is always a sign that I am tired. I felt tired even though I didn't think I had any reason to be,  but the stye was physical confirmation of my intuition. 

Having encouraged us all to set goals for August, I then wondered how I could live up to them, given my sore eye and general feeling of lethargy. I reflected on this for a while, and decided that I would conserve energy by putting myself on a sort of creative retreat, in which the ONLY thing I did was work on one of my goals - one that didn't really matter.

Now I need to explain what I mean by not mattering, because why would you work on something if it doesn't matter

I have a few different creative projects - a novel I've been working on for five years, developing a collection of my poems, and illustrating some children's poems I wrote a long time ago.  

The book carries a lot of weight in terms of my creative goals. I've been working on it longer than any of my previous books. It has a personal connection and there's a good story that I want to tell. I'm well invested in it, 31 chapters in. I want to finish it and then figure out how to get it into the world. I have dreams and desired outcomes for this book.

My developing poetry collection carries less weight - I finetune my work, scribble new thoughts as they come, occasionally submit to competitions. There's no timeline - you can't rush poetry.

Illustrating my children's poems is simply something that started with our creativity class - a way to be creative outside my comfort zone. This project really doesn't matter, because I haven't invested in any particular outcomes from it, and look at it as playing.

I've spent all week at my dining room table with paper, watercolor pencils and brushes, having the loveliest time. I didn't think too much about what to do, I just starting sketching and then painting. I lost myself for hours in the joy of doing something we did as kids. It was simply FUN. I had no idea if what I was doing would look good or be totally embarrassing, but I took comfort in the idea that even the incomparable Alan Alda sometimes didn't know what he was doing!

And...I really love what I came up with! The scenes are fun, whimsical, and perfectly imperfect. Who knows if anyone else will ever see them? It doesn't matter!

(The drapes that I'm still not sure about can be seen here - the ones anchoring the window. Also, no one will be eating at the dining room table any time soon!)

So what does it mean to be creatively brave?

  • Listening to your own intuitive voice
  • Ignoring all other voices - whether they be critical or filled with praise
  • Giving something a try
  • Doing your best without expectation of any particular outcome
  • Expressing the unique, perfectly imperfect you that you are
This coming week, just listen to your own voice and do what YOU want - at least some of the time! Preferably, something that doesn't really matter!


  1. Thank you. Food for thought. I am an appreciator rather than a creator for a myriad of reasons, but perhaps it is time to stretch my envelope.

    1. It can be anything really! Rearrange things on the mantel....

  2. Great post. I love that you had fun - after all, that's what it ought to be all about. If we're not having fun when we create should we really be doing it? Even during the most stressful of edits, I relish the thought and effort that goes into it.

    1. I LOVE editing. It's only when I sit down and have to start from a new point, or a left-off point and don't know where to go, that it feels like "work." But invariably, something comes out, and then I get excited, and it's like play. When I read it later, I'm always surprised there is something there to work with, and then I get exicted. Honing it with edits is definitely like play for me.

  3. I am taking a 3-day workshop next week on identifying the local flora given at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. As a writer, nonscientist, it's quite out of my realm, but I will "do my best without any particular outcome." Oh, my!

    1. This sounds so wonderful! I have been thinking lately of a summer Audobon class I took when I was a kid. I didn't want to go, but I loved it, and remember it to this day as being very special. Plus, the Botanical Garden has really grown into such a wonderful place. You will love it! And it's perfect for this idea. Enjoy!


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