7 Steps of Creating – Week 2 – SHOW UP

The Second Step in these 7 Steps of Creating may seem, uh, self-evident? But the Second Step is to SHOW UP.

I know, “duh.” Right? But sometimes “showing up” is half-the-battle…

I was talking with a friend this morning about how sometimes we have to trick ourselves into working out. Like, let me just put my work out clothes on…OR I just have to get my feet inside the gym…

I think it’s because we often look at a big task and feel like we have to scale the ENTIRE MOUNTAIN. And, also — as Steven Pressfield talks about so well — our small-self, or our “ego,” has Resistence to what our Soul wants to become. And we have to push through that Resistence, or that discomfort.  That’s part of “Showing Up.”

But something else happens when we SHOW UP.  Magic.

This is when the character voices start talking to us. When we see what needs to happen in the scene. When the melody just comes. When you hear exactly the right string part in your song. The words appear on the page.

See, Magic…the unexpected goodies of creativity… can’t happen UNLESS we show up.

I love this quote by Thoreau…

“I have learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.  He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.” — Henry David Thoreau

I frickin’ LOVE that! We will pass “an invisible boundary.” I know this is true! As I have said before, creating is communing with the Divine. And that is why I show up to create. I want some of that sweet other-wordly lovin’! I adore how my body feels when I know Spirit is passing through and coming onto the page, or into the scene, or whatever.

So, what’s your art? How do you show up for it? Is it sitting down at the computer? Showing up at the easel? Sitting at the piano? Our gifts want to flow through us and TRANSFORM our lives, but we have to Show Up for them. It’s a two-way street.

As Joel Goldsmith, one of my favorite spiritual teachers, said, “We are antennas for the universal human mind…”

Okay, so how do we “Show Up” in our Masculine and Feminine energies?

The Feminine Principle behind Step 2:

DOWNLOADING

In downloading we use our intuition; we open and ask to be given instructions, divine ideas, or “inspired action.”  It’s about getting quiet, and becoming available to receive. It can happen while we are driving peacefully through a beautiful day, on a hike in the mountains, sitting and having a cup of tea. It’s when our mind is still and empty, and we can become powerful receivers.

It’s catching the Magic.

You can hear it in Mozart’s description of how ideas would come to him:

“When I feel well and in a good humor, or when I am taking a drive or walking after a good meal, or in the night when I cannot sleep, thoughts crowd into my mind as easily as you could wish. Whence and how do they come? I do not know and I have nothing to do with it. Those which please me, I keep in my head and hum them; at least others have told me that I do so. Once I have my theme, another melody comes, linking itself to the first one, in accordance with the needs of the composition as a whole: the counterpoint, the part of each instrument, and all these melodic fragments at last produce the entire work.”Mozart

I love how he says that he has “nothing to do with it.” I know this is true! And the thing is, a lot of times we put pressure ourselves that we have to “be good,” “be smart,” “be original,” but all we really have to do is be OPEN. Be ready to catch.

Elizabeth Gilbert, her famous Ted Talk, discusses the ancient Greek and Roman’s opinion about genius and creativity: “People believed that creativity was this divine attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant and unknowable source, for distant and unknowable reasons. The Greeks famously called these divine attendant spirits of creativity “daemons.” Socrates, famously, believed that he had a daemon who spoke wisdom to him from afar. The Romans had the same idea, but they called that sort of disembodied creative spirit a genius.”

There was an interview with Michael Jackson where he said that melodies would come to him in his sleep, and he had to wake up and write them down or “God would give them to Prince.”

I think there’s something wonderful about thinking of our best ideas as this gift that comes from our Higher Self, or Source, or whatever you want to call it. I know for myself, a lot of my staging will come to me a visions right before I fall asleep. And when I’m directing, its like there is a voice, whispering in my ear, telling me what to say…

So, if “Visioning” is how the IDEA appears to us. Then “Downloading” is the repetitive, daily action of becoming clear and open to SHOW UP for the divine information.

The Masculine Principle behind Step 2:

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

This can be so simple!  It means just what it says: take action.

So, whatever you were “given” in your downloading process. Do that. Write down the scene. Start the painting. Call the person.

And remember, you don’t have to complete the entire project here (Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?), just take that next step.  Even if it seems silly or is met with resistance.

We can take the next step with an easy, light touch. We don’t need to force it, or push it. In fact, I believe in the Creative Process, when things start to get “hard,” it’s often because you are going down the wrong road. When things get “hard,” I step back, take a breath, change my scenery, and then all of the sudden, a new idea will “pop in.” A new way of looking at things…

We are not supposed to know “how to get it all done.” So, don’t worry about the “how’s.” It’s not your job. Usually, you can only see 200 hundred feet in front of you. And then more will be revealed to you as you go…I think of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” Do you remember, toward the end of the movie, Harrison Ford is in the temple, and then he steps out into nothingness, and the rest of the path appears? I know that is what it is like pursuing our vision…we take a step, and  the next step shows up.

So, all you have to focus on right now, is showing up each day, and doing what is in front of you to do.

Hopefully, with joy and gratefulness for getting to be the Wonderful Creator that you are.

“The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” – Goethe

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7 Steps of Creating – Week 1 – IDEA

These Seven Steps start with the assumption that we all feel the call of greatness inside of us. Joseph Campbell talked about it as “the hero’s call.” And the reason it’s in all of our stories is because it’s true, it’s mythic, and it happens to us all.

We all know there’s something we are meant to do, but sometimes it feels like — no matter how hard you try — you can’t get there. I remember having a student who told me, “It’s like before I got sober, I knew there was another life waiting for me right after sobriety. I could see it. I just had to get there. I feel the same way about doing my art.”

So, these 7 Steps of Creating were created to help people know they can get there. By implementing them, you can get “on purpose” and bring your divine ideas into the world!

You know how it takes the masculine and feminine to make a baby, right? Well, it also takes the masculine and feminine energy in ourselves to create something.

What am I talking about? Each of the 7 Steps I’m going to talk about have both a masculine and feminine side.  Like “Yin and Yang”, it is in honoring both sides that a right balance can be achieved, enabling us to manifest our creation.

I like to think of the masculine energy in us as focused, pointed, fast, analytical, hard, driven, and determined. To me, the masculine is New York City. It is the part of us that gets us into the world. The masculine part of us is action.

I like to think of the feminine energy is soft, receptive, open, emotional, flowing, and ever-changing. To me, the feminine energy is Hawaii. It is what happens on the inside — think the womb, where a baby grows and develops. The feminine part of us is intuition.

And we all have both in us.

But if you’re anything like me, you sometimes find yourself living primarily in one of your energies over the other…

Here’s what it looks like:

A person living too much in their Masculine Energy:

This is a person that just works and works and works, but never gets where they want. In fact, it’s like they keep putting action out, keep working on their dreams, but they aren’t getting anywhere. It’s like they keep grinding the same wheel, but with no results. And they feel stuck and frustrated.  They are burnt out. They are trying to do it all on their own. They are trying to control the Universe, when the Universe wants them to let go. Well, they need to incorporate the feminine principles of creation.

A person living too much in their Feminine Energy:

Do you know someone who is a dreamer? I mean, they can feel and see their future. They are talented, wonderful, and can create beautiful work — but it’s not happening. In fact, they have a real hard time getting anything done. Well, that’s probably the lack of masculine energy. Somewhere between the idea and the action – something, usually fear, is stopping them.

BALANCE

Balance is what we are looking for. Balance is not staying in one place, it’s continually shifting. It’s yoga: stretching in two opposite directions at the same time. Many of these principles are seemingly opposites, but what they actually are is counterpoints to keep us in balance. In that place of alignment we give ourselves over to the flow, and by plugging into connection – plugging into Source – we let the divine ideas come through us.

The 1st step is IDEA.  

Everything comes down to the moment a dream pops in your head. I love this quote from David Lynch that says “ideas aren’t ours, but we catch them like fish.”

The Feminine Principle behind Step 1:

VISIONING

I believe the Universe reveals projects that want to be “birthed” through us. I believe our ideas, our projects, our dreams, aren’t ours – we are just the vehicle to give them to the world.

And when the “idea” pops in there, there is already a lot of divine information that comes in with it. I heard that J.K. Rowling got the idea for Harry Potter on a train. It just popped in! She didn’t even have a pen and was trying to remember all the details as the idea came to her.

In the same way, if you investigate your idea right now and try to write down all that you already know about it, you’ll find you have a lot there. Whether it’s about a project, a story, a business, when the first idea comes in, you’ll be amazed at how much “information” has already been given to you.

By stepping into our feminine energy, we open ourselves up to become receptive to this idea. We can spend time with our idea, and more “information” becomes revealed through visioning. The thing is, people who haven’t developed this feminine energy don’t trust the vision, and they don’t know how to open up to it and let it guide them.

How do you develop your visioning skills? Close your eyes. You can talk to your idea and ask for guidance. Allow yourself to walk around in your idea. Sit in silence for 5-10 minutes. Keep a note pad nearby. Write down all that comes to you.

Now you are working with guidance from the deepest part of you.

The Masculine Principle behind Step 1:

MAKING A COMMITMENT

“Commitment unlocks the doors of imagination, allows vision, and gives us the “right stuff” to turn our dreams into reality.” – James Womack 

People get million dollar ideas all the time. Visions that can change the world, but they don’t say “yes” to it and they don’t commit. The easiest thing to do is to bail on an idea when it gets hard.

So now that we have this idea – and we write it down – we are going to write a contract with it. This is our promise to the vision to let it know that it is welcome and we are up for the challenge. We are going to stick with it. We are going to show up, we are going to set aside time every day, and if issues come up (like blocks, resistance, or fear) we will shine a light on them and not back down.

Challenges will happen on the road to our dreams. Those hardships are part of the process. Things come to shake us and force us to evolve our character. I like to think of it as the way our dreams grow us. Anything that is not your higher-self will get pulled away. It’s by going through the fire that we become refined.  And, in this process, no matter how tough it is, we don’t have to worry — inside the challenge is also the solution. We don’t get one without the other. So, relax, you don’t have to do it on your own. The moment you commit, the Universe begins working for you. When you hit a problem, just breathe. Go deep. Ask for revelation when challenges occur. We don’t have to solve it. We only have to become willing to receive the answer…

It’s this visioning that gives us inspired action, and by making a commitment to fulfill that inspired action, the creation process begins…

Giving Birth to an Idea

Once upon a time, before “Rock of Ages” hit Broadway, I used to teach writing and creativity classes in Los Angeles. The whole idea behind the classes was to help people “get out” the artistic idea that was inside of them. And I loved doing it. I would rent little classrooms in Silverlake and in Venice, and then writers, actors, directors, and all sorts of creatives would come and we would work on “giving birth” to their visions. It was literally one of the most thrilling processes for me, and I’m sure I learned as much as I taught. By working with other artists, I saw lots of similarities in the creative process, and it changed my life. No kidding.

The first thing that became so clear was that there’s an idea that wants to come into the world through every person. I know you’ve heard it before, but once I started teaching, I could see it — we all came into this world with a purpose, and one that was tailor made for who we are. Sometimes I felt like I wanted to jump out of my seat and say — “Yes! you have to write that story! Your life experience is so perfect to bring THAT story into the world.”

But another thing became equally clear, “giving birth” to an idea can be a very uncomfortable process. It can be a labor. This is because creativity is a growing process, and sometimes it hurts to grow — because we are literally EXPANDING. Getting bigger than we used to be. And sometimes, this creative process can be so tough, so uncomfortable, such new territory, that we stop ourselves. I saw so many people get close to a break through, a brand new draft, an exciting an idea — then quit abruptly.

In one of my favorite books, “The War on Art,” (run, run, run and go get it! Life-Changing Alert!!!) Steven Pressfield talks about Resistance as a force – the thing in us that wants to keep us in our lower nature, instead of our higher nature. It’s Resistance that keeps us small and keeps us from following those inner impulses to create.

But here’s another thing I learned: its also so painful NOT to give birth to the idea within you…because it never goes away…it just gets louder and louder and louder…it wants your attention. Eventually you learn it’s harder to “stay small” then to not take the challenge and commit yourself to your idea.

Then, while I was teaching, the strangest thing happened. Something I didn’t expect at all. This technique emerged. Truly, it just POPPED into existence. In fact, I can remember a Sunday morning…I was just sitting there and then all of the sudden, I was writing down this…process. It was like I was taking dictation…(and I believe that’s how creativity comes in, it comes through us!) and I found it helped ease people’s way through the creative process. It made the labor a little less of a labor.

I also found that it was a tool for me! I got to use the process on my own projects. And then something freaky happened — my life started to change. For real! Life started to break open. Projects got green-lit. It was weird, and I felt like I was in the flow like never before.

So, in honor of the new year, and my shiny new blog, and because I really just have to do it or my soul will explode — I’m sharing this process!

Over the course of the next seven weeks, I’ll be blogging and sharing each of what I call “Seven Steps of Creating.” Honestly, when I write about it, it helps me remember to DO it in my daily life. Literally, by sharing it, I apply it in my own life in a more conscious way, and I become a better creator.

I’m hoping this helps you the way its helped me, and that you find yourself opening up to your ideas — the things that whisper in your ear — and stepping into what you were really meant to give. And when you do that, your life feels lit up from the inside, you have energy, courage, and freedom.

Then the whole game starts changing…

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