Holding on to your creative dreams

The Magician

I have a friend who has always dreamed of writing a science fiction novel. He works as a programmer during the day and tries to fit in his writing at night.

Lately, he’s taken on more programming gigs and has less energy for his creative work. He’s finding that the longer he neglects his writing, the more difficult it gets for him to write anything at all.

It’s gotten to the point that he can barely remember why he wanted to write his novel in the first place.

Does this story sound familiar? Have you ever let go of a creative project because you got distracted with other obligations? I know I have.

Holding on to a creative dream can be hard work in our busy modern lives. There are just so many other things to take care of.

And creativity, as thoughtful, expansive and uncertain as it is, can be so very easy to let go of— especially when faced with the pressing and the practical and the consumable and the billable.

This is true for traditional creative pursuits like painting, writing and music, as well as any task that we decide to approach creatively, from building a product that matters, to changing a company’s management style, to being a more authentic human.

Don’t forget: your creative dreams are important.

Being creative helps you slow down, make space in your life, and play. To choose to be creative is to choose the higher callings and deeper understandings of life over the material and external. Being creative is how we connect with something beyond ourselves, craft meaning in our lives, and bring something into the world that needs to be here.

So how can you harness your creative spark at the onset of a project and turn it into a slow burning resolve to create every day?

Here are a few suggestions:

Create Every Day

The most obvious way to hold on to a creative dream is to work on it each and every day. At least an hour each day, as early in the day as possible, is ideal. Making creative work part of your regular routine helps keep a project fresh and relevant. Some days you may not be able to sit down and actively work on your craft, but even if you can spend a few minutes tending to your pursuit, you’ll help yourself stay motivated. Reading, reflecting, writing notes, sketching, asking questions— these brief activities can help you stay inspired, open and alert for insight, and able to dig in deeper tomorrow.

One Big Idea

Another helpful exercise for holding on to your creative dream is to write the key concept of your current creative project in large letters and hang this up in your workspace. The most useful part of this exercise isn’t the visual reminder (although that is helpful too), but the process of distilling your inspiration into one simple, meaningful idea that you are motivated to explore. What is it about your current work that resonates so deeply within you that you are resolved to move forward? What simple phrase captures what you want to spend your time contemplating, analyzing, making, iterating and sharing?

Be Kind to Yourself

And finally, I’m a big believer in being flexible with our creative pursuits. It’s important that we forgive ourselves for all of the times we’ve fallen short of our creative dreams, because not forgiving ourselves can be one of the biggest blocks to being creative next time. Being critical and severe with yourself is a sure-fire way to stop enjoying what you’re doing. And while discomfort and resistance are definitely a part of creating, if you aren’t able to find any joy and magic in what you do, your motivation will dwindle and what you create will lose its shine.

So, how about you? How do you find your resolve to create? What big idea compels you to move forward?

Wishing you a creative day,


{P.S. If you’re looking for more creative guidance, take a look at Eric Maisel’s writing, including this book… or you can sign up to get more notes like this using the little form below.}

4 Responses

  1. Thanks Sarah, a little spark to help keep our fire for creativity alive is always nice. The concrete artist you have come to know is getting ready to build his dream house on a river just outside of Yosemite. Just imagine.

    1. Wow Chris! Talk about a creative project… now you’ve got me inspired! Good to hear from you.

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