Maia Toll
I’ve been getting creative wrong for decades.

Let me start at the creative beginning…

Okay, not quite the beginning – which was a story about a unicorn in a bottle who washed up on the Jersey shore. After that were short stories sneered at by Mr. Leshan, the faculty advisor for the high school lit mag (I’m sure he didn’t think he was sneering but it sure looked like a sneer to me), and then countless hours, my back snugged-up to a tree on the University of Michigan Quad, with tears running down my face as I blathered through formless, emotive poetry.

On second thought…

… let’s start nowhere near the beginning.

Let’s start in the middle. Let’s start the day my Dad took me out for stone-fired pizza, back in the days I could eat whatever I wanted, and asked me why I wasn’t writing. I told him lots of things, some true and some true only through the filter of a twenty-two year old. But this one is obviously false:

I told him I had nothing to write.

You see, I’d read over and over again that authors had stories burning in their souls, characters who demanded to be let out. And I had nothing.

So for years I waited, hoping someday I’d have something to say.

I went to writing workshops and heard the spiel on discipline, on putting your butt in the chair and writing. My translation: once you had something to say, show up to do the work of birthing your idea into the world.

But I was missing the point.

I thought ass-in-chair was about discipline. I thought I was being told I needed structure. I needed to come to my desk at the same time each day to let the Muses know I was diligently banging out this idea they had graciously granted me. And honestly? The thought of all that discipline made my spirit screech and my soul wanna barf.

Maybe, I thought, if I actually had a story to write, I’d feel differently.

And so for years I waited for the moment of conception, when a story would be born deep in the recesses of my mind.

And then for years more (when it became increasingly obvious there was no way in hell I was gonna be a savant or prodigy) I gave up the dream of being a writer completely.

Then this weird thing happened: my business coach told me I should be sending a weekly newsletter. She told me to keep it brief: a tip-of-the-week type of thing.

But I couldn’t keep it brief. Something in my soul wanted to write.

Thus this blog was born.

Every week I put ass-in-chair. Sometimes there’s an idea that’s been dogging me through the week, but oftentimes there’s nothing. Nothing at all.

I open a blank page on the blog, chew my inner-cheek, and wonder what the heck’s gonna happen next… and what I’ll do if nothing happens.

And here’s what I’ve come to know:

There’s something magical which can only happen when you sit down at the keyboard or pick up a pen or a paintbrush or a guitar pick: you realize you do have words or music or art waiting to pour out of some little-known corner of your psyche.

It was the same way with herbal medicine: until I sat with a client in front of me, I had no clue how the synergy of their need and my knowledge would mesh.

Sometimes you just have to jump in.
It's like making fire: you can wait for a lightening strike or pull out two sticks and do the work of creation. Click To Tweet

Just as with everything worthwhile, you need to act. Action ignites a spark in the universe which thought simply doesn’t.

This isn’t to say every creative act is worth sharing with the world. We practice creation, just like any other skill. Sometimes what we create is a masterpiece and sometimes it’s shlock. But we show up so we can practice, work the muscle, develop the skill.

If you see the creative process as a fire cycle— flames burning what’s no longer needed to ash— it is glorious all the way through.
Failures are compost that nourish the next creation. Click To Tweet

As the printer’s proof for my very first book finally arrives, I have to admit I’m a bit in love with the entirety of the fiery, creative cycle. And although it’s gotten so even failure feeds my soul, it’s pretty amazing to hold creation in my hands— my creation!— knowing that this book will be a candle to light other people’s way.

Sharing fire is a beautiful thing.

If you want your very own piece of the flame, grab it HERE!

And if you’re sitting at your creative altar drawing a complete blank, try burning a little mugwort to open you up to your own subconscious. Then act: write or paint or pick a few chords. Allow stream-of-consciousness to open the channels and create new grooves in your psyche. Allow yourself to practice.

Big Creative Hugs—