It was a Monday. Agh. I'd soared through my to-do list wishing that I'd stop putting unrealistic deadlines on myself--stop creating my own disappointment (as if that was ever going to happen). But Monday had something to say. Something unexpected and somewhat random.
Monday whispered, "Reckless abandon."
Over and over again.
I knew what the phrase meant, mostly. I'd heard it occasionally in conversation, and I'd seen it in books. But did I really know what it truly meant? Who cares, I thought. I've got stuff to do. It's Monday! The busiest day of the week.
Then Tuesday awoke and whispered, louder this time, "Reckless abandon."
I lay next to my husband in bed wondering why in the world I'd still be hearing that phrase. I pulled my phone from its cord and looked up the meaning, hoping that would somehow alleviate my mind from its constant whispers.
Reckless means, "marked by lack of proper caution: careless of consequences."
Abandon means, "to give up the control or influence of another person; a thorough yielding to natural impulses."
I chewed on the thought all morning and decided to take it to my journal, where I often sort out the mysteries of my little life.
A week before, I'd been praying about a publishing venture I was unsure about. I'd been wanting to publish a novelette but didn't know how it would be received and if I was being silly for focusing on a shorter work at the moment instead of my full-length novel. I prayed, and I felt in my spirit Him asking me, "Do you enjoy writing it?" I nodded yes. His response: "Then why not?" The words permeated into my soul. I hadn't been asking for permission, but I felt like he'd given me the go-ahead to chase this mysterious rabbit down the hole.
As I processed this all in my journal, I realized the two phrases God had been placing in my heart and mind were related. But what did WHY NOT and RECKLESS ABANDON have to do with each other?
Over the next few minutes, I came to the conclusion that I'd been looking at this publishing stuff all wrong.
Wait a minute. How did WHAT IF jump in there? I love WHAT IF. In the past, WHAT IF had always inspired me and opened up my imagination to impossible things.
WHAT IF is great if it's used properly, but just like any other verbal affiramtion, it can be dangerous if misused. Soul crushing, actually.
You see, WHAT IF is consequence focused, and WHY NOT is action focused.
Why is that important to creatives? Let's take a deeper look.
WHAT IF implies an expectation.
Placing expectations on your art cripples creativity and stifles the freedom of living a soulful, abundant life. Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic [affiliate link] goes into detail about the hazards of doing so.
WHY NOT implies an action and adventure.
Do you see the difference? It's so easy to slip into the expectation that we often miss the adventure. That's when your beloved art begins to feel like dreaded work.
Art is about joy and sharing a piece of yourself with the world. Be generous. Feed your audience often. Give them everything you've got.
Not to say that you shouldn't still do your best and hire professionals when needed, but we cannot let our fear of failure or the striving of perfection cripple us. What if we all stopped second-guessing ourselves and just started creating?
Naysayers will hurt you, sure. But rely on your close supporters. They care. Allow their words to be the ones you hear when you lie your head down at night. Speak truth into your life. You may not be perfect, but that's what makes you so fascinating. All your quirks and the imperfections of your art is what makes it yours and why others can see their imperfect selves in it.
How beautiful the world would be, layered with art and truth everywhere we looked, if only every creative would respond to their inner selves: Why not?
*Previously posted on The Faithful Creative blog.