I recently posted on social media that a friend of mine is adamant that she “walk the talk”. Something that author and blogger Chuck Wendig writes about repeatedly is that writers write, and the importance of finishing what we start. I’m a writer. I write. Not as often or as much as I’d like or as I used to. I offer suggestions, my own and those from notables such as Natalie Goldberg, for creatives to do art. It hasn’t been lost on me that I don’t always “walk my talk”. Hypocrisy is one thing I try to do without.
“Writers don’t need to explain things. They need to state them…Writing is the practice of asserting yourself…Just state it as it is and be fearless.” On a practical level, this could be pointing towards the practice of show, don’t tell. Or it could be a comment on using the active instead of the passive voice. On a philosophical level, it could mean to courageously write what we know, with no apologies. Natalie Goldberg, in her book Wild Mind, Living the Writer’s Life, offers suggestions on how to walk the writer’s talk.
There are myriad pieces of life that interfere with doing any art. If we are to call ourselves creatives and make art a priority in our lives, then we need to be cognizant of everything that tries to grab our attention and pull us from that priority. “Things outside ourselves will always beg us to conform, but they aren’t the real challenge. They are just an excuse, or an out, when we can’t face the inertia inside us, that resistance and boredom that arise as soon as we make an effort toward something we deeply want.” The resistance is called the inner critic and it makes good arguments for why we don’t have time to do art. It points out all the outside distractions that we should be doing instead. To combat the voice that tells us why we can’t create, we create anyway. Even for ten minutes. We move towards what we “deeply want” and we’ll be rewarded in more ways than there are that keep us immobile.
When the inner critic, the ego, win the war? “The only failure in writing is when you stop doing it. Then you fail yourself. You affirm your resistance…Let the outside world scream at you. Create an inner world of determination.” It’s not just the outside world that clamors for your attention, it’s the ego, too. We tend to listen to the voice that is the loudest, the most persistent. That voice is full of guilt-slinging comments about what we should be doing with our time and effort. It pokes at wounds made by others when we were told that our art isn’t good enough. It’s consistent and chronic, and it never deviates. What can we do to counteract that voice? Write. Dance. Paint. Cook. Invite the Muse to play. The more we interact with our medium, the quieter the critic becomes. It can’t live in the space of joy. The more joy we create, the more tools we have to use against the critic.
But it doesn’t always have to be a battle. If we declare ourselves artists, then we walk our talk. That takes determination, prioritization, resilience, and practice. The more we play, the less it will be like work. The more experience we get, the easier it becomes to ignore the grumbling of the critic, or to let it have its say, and then create anyway.
I have examples of walking my talk on my website which displays poems, short stories, and the beginnings of my novels: www.myjoyenterprises.com
Have you declared yourself an artist? Do you walk your talk?