Not everything you write, make or do is going to be good. That’s creative risk. It’s also life.

People who create regularly learn that some pieces will be their best and others are not so fabulous. When you create often, some of the work you do will be a learning piece.

Having a few pieces that “nailed it” means that, by comparison, the others are not so good. In some ways judging and comparing them just isn’t useful.

Could we love our creations for what we learn in making them?

Creativity requires that we risk failure. To create is to be open to surprise, it’s to make something new. That new thing may be great, or it may be a bit odd, or it may not work at all, yet.

Loving the different parts of yourself

Loving your various imperfect creations is like loving yourself  “all the way”. We all have flaws; loving yourself means learning  to love the things you don’t like so much.

I haven’t written songs in a while but a few years ago I was writing about one a week. One in ten of those songs was special. I continued to play about one in five. I was new to songwriting, and untrained, so that seemed ok to me. That “one in ten song” is a gift for turning up.

Channel what needs to be said

Those special pieces are inspired, they’re infused with some little piece of God (or whatever you call it). It isn’t quite you. It comes through you, you’re just the vessel.

Creating beautiful work is channeling that little piece of God, becoming an empty instrument to form sounds, shapes or stories from that mystery. It comes from something greater.

Grounded in thanks

And so, when the work is good, just say thank you. We’re not just great and we’re not just flawed, we’re all of it, a tiny bit of God and some human dust and grit.

Some of what we create is full of light. Other times the work resembles the emotional flow of a tax return. That’s ok, there is a place for both, one inspires while the other is  simply useful.

Not the result, the commitment

Creators just turn up. Whether you’re a writer, an artist, a parent, a tax accountant or a damn good cook, “just turn up” means that you practice your art, whatever that art is. Sometimes God joins you and makes something beautiful.

Turn up because you love it. Turn up because you said you would. Turn up because you feel better doing the work, whether or not it comes out “good”.

Why practice?

It feels better to practice and do the work than to not do it. The act of turning up to practice shifts the range of your work higher. Some pieces will still be better than others but the average standard of your work improves with practice. That said, the joy is often in the doing.

Practice tuning in

Tuning in is listening to that mystery. Tuning in is hearing what you want to create, what you want to say. It’s giving the gift of your love and natural ability; it’s honing that gift until it makes a pure sound.

Some days you will create  sounds like a crystal bell, other days they will be warm earthy. They may also be discordant or dull. All of it can be interesting. All of it sounds like life.

For the love of it

Creating is an act of love. Sometimes it’s passionate and moves the world, other days it’s warm and comfortable. It can be awkward, vulnerable, beautiful and confusing. It can be chaotic and sublime. It gets better, it improves with time and it’s worth doing.

I never really follow a recipe, not exactly, only roughly. As I cook a dish again and again, it becomes better. Sometimes it’s “damn, that was good!”, other times it’s just pleasant and filling.

Return to your art, your gifts, the things you love to do. Creativity is surprise.  You never know what will happen. Learn to love the surprise. Just turn up.