What Are You Apologizing For?

Having worked for years as a writer’s coach, webinar presenter, and speaker, I often run into people who’ve taken a class from me or heard me speak about the importance of making time for their art. They often seem happy to see me, yet can’t quite look me in the eye. And then comes the apology. “I haven’t made any progress on that book I was working on. It just hasn’t been calling to me. But next month, I’m going to make myself start again.”

“Wait, did you hear yourself?” I say. “You said ‘make yourself.’ We make ourselves go to the dentist. We make ourselves get the oil changed. We shouldn’t make ourselves do our art. You’re not going to find your passion if it’s encased in any negativity. How about you say, ‘When it calls to me again, I’ll get back to it.’ If it does, great. You were meant to finish that project and the time will be right. And if it doesn’t, that’s okay too. Your creativity will find other outlets that do raise your energy.”

How about if we stop beating ourselves up about our art and change the language we speak. How about instead of saying:

“I started a book years ago and then got lazy and never finished it.”

We say: “I started a book years ago and it was so interesting trying my hand at that. I still enjoy thinking about that book.”

“I used to love playing the piano. I was getting pretty good. But then I got busy, and now it’s too hard to work it in.”  

We say: “I used to love playing the piano. It gave me such joy. I’m so glad I had that in my life. Maybe someday I’ll pick it up again.”

“I used to cross-stitch all the time, and then I lost interest. All those unfinished projects haunt me.”

We say: “I used to cross-stitch all the time, but then I moved on to other things. I’m happy for the projects I finished, though. They bring my family joy.”

“I paid for all those art lessons and then I stopped doing it. I’m ashamed of myself for wasting all that money.”

We say: “I’m so glad I took those art lessons. I learned so much and met such interesting people. It was worth every penny because it helped me grow.”

If you stopped expending energy on feeling guilty, ashamed, lazy, repentant, sorrowful, and frustrated about letting go of some of your art, could you find a new passion? If you stopped thinking of yourself as a quitter, or a failure, or someone who just doesn’t have what it takes, would you start to trust again that your creative spirit is alive and well and waiting for permission to guide you again? If you stopped trying to force your art, might you find your way back to it?

Whatever you do, please don’t apologize to me! I’ve got my own unfinished projects and unplayed piano and unsung songs, so I’m right there with you. But it doesn’t bother me. I see those things as possibilities. I approach them with wonder. I wonder if those arts will ever call to me again. Wouldn’t that be fun? If they don’t, I’m awfully glad I’ve had them in my life, and I’m eager to see what direction my creativity takes me in next!

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