This blog is about one writer’s journey, but it is my hope that it will speak to those of you who are struggling to create any little thing. Some people are born creators and from their first breath it seems they are willing to share that with the world. The rest of us somehow end up thinking that we are the “practical ones” and we don’t have time for such frivolity. As Brené Brown put it, “I don’t do A-R-T because I have a J-O-B.” We practical folk tend to surround ourselves with other practical folk doing the practical things that make up our day-to-day existence, and we never stop to contemplate creativity at all. When we get bogged down in our day-to-day obligations, our conversations do not include art or creativity or anything beyond I need to do X in order to produce Y. As your mother always told you, your friends (or in this case also your co-workers, lovers, and partners) are a reflection of you. And if those folks aren’t reflecting some creative mojo then chances are creativity isn’t on your radar very frequently, if at all. You need a creative Tribe.
Assembling a Tribe? Who has time for Tribe assembly?? In today’s digital world, it’s so easy. If you are an extrovert, go online and search for a local group of artists who are doing the thing that you’re doing – ceramics, painting, writing, poetry slams, body fluid art (yup, that’s a thing…). Meet up with those folks (and if body fluid art is your thing, might I suggest you bring some latex gloves?) and see if it feels like they could be your Tribe. If that doesn’t quite work for you, or if you are an introvert like yours truly, don’t despair! There are even more possibilities available.
My favorite form of Tribal support, you may have noticed, is a good podcast. Not only are they convenient (especially for someone who spends a lot of time in the car – I’m still an equine veterinarian, remember?), but if the podcast is structured in an interview format it is an incredibly efficient way to expose yourself to even more potential Tribe members. These new Tribe members will lead you to amazing websites, inspirational books, and probably another podcast which will serve to expand your creative Tribe even further. It’s like magic. The downside to this form of Tribal support, of course, is that the informational exchange is one-sided, but I’m OK with that at this embryonic stage of my writing career because I have a lot of learning to do.
Social media, of course, is another potential way to expand your Tribe. Following people you admire, especially if they are prone to posting inspirational content, is a great way to feed your creativity. It is also a great way to find out about workshops and webinars that are available, which allow for a back and forth exchange of ideas and information. If you are a writer, Linda Sivertson’s Carmel retreat looks absolutely amazing! Since learning of it’s existence, I have been searching our couch cushions every day for spare change so I can begin to save the $10,000 required to attend. Mercifully, she gives away some great advice for free on her podcast.
My own creative tribe assembly began when I started listening to Magic Lessons, a podcast that was created by Elizabeth Gilbert as a follow-up to her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. Liz Gilbert led me to so many other creative people – Glennon Doyle Melton, Martha Beck, Brené Brown, Linda Sivertson, Danielle LaPorte – I could go on and on. The most remarkable thing about this Tribe to me is not their incredible creative talent, but their surprisingly generous openness to sharing their creative processes and their unwavering encouragement for others to explore their own creativity. They are literally recruiting competition – kind of like the Jehovah’s Witnesses who knock on your door and encourage you to convert. (I’ve gotta be honest, if I held the belief that only 144,000 earthlings were getting into God’s Kingdom, I’m not sure I would be going door-to-door recruiting my own competition for that coveted spot.)
But I suspect these women know that that they are creating a Tribe that is larger than they will ever know. And yes, of course, there are men in this Tribe too (Mark Nepo, I’m looking at you) and I do not want to exclude them – it’s just that the creative Tribe seems to be strongly lead by the feminine of the species. Or, I should say, the women are the ones encouraging the rest of us fledglings to spread our wings.