I’ve never called myself an artist. A writer, yes. In fact, it was just this year that I grew comfortable with introducing myself that way in those ice-breaker moments at the beginning of the first day of class. “Hi, I’m Rachelle, and I’m a writer.”
Of course, I’m sure that had something to do with being a junior this year and in every class there being a likely chance that the person who spoke after me would be a writer, too. I’m greatly enjoying the camaraderie that comes with that — and all the weird writer jokes (who knew misuse of verb tenses could be so hilarious?).
The truth is, I am an artist. An artist who sometimes gets teary over raindrops streaking across my windshield and the fact that no matter what, my words will always fall short of that beauty that’s bound up in the everyday like a book with the most beautiful cover you’ve ever seen…
But sometimes, I admit it, I aid in the artist’s slow death. I don’t let her emerge from her cocoon. I don’t give her time to breathe. I don’t even acknowledge her. I just stuff her in a closet and move on. Today that changes. Instead of squelching the inner artist, I want to exult in my newly-embraced identity as a writer and let her live.
Set a timer for five minutes and scribble.
Anything. Everything. Whatever comes to mind. Sometimes I don’t actually set a timer, but instead watch the clock. Sometimes it doesn’t make any sense because I can’t get past something snarky someone said to me earlier in the day. Sometimes I go slightly over or under the time I allot to myself and end up with something that becomes a future piece. It’s hard to give myself that time when deadlines loom or an exam is coming up and it doesn’t happen every day, but when I tell my internal editor to go away and let the artist come out, I feel freer, more peaceful, joyful.
A great resource I love reading the fruit of is Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five-Minute Fridays.
All you writers out there know not to go anywhere without pen and paper, right? Good. This doesn’t just apply to writers, of course. Photographer friends of mine lug their cameras everywhere. I know a girl who loves to draw and never ceases to amaze me with the amount of markers she can keep in her purse. If at all possible, keep the tools of your art with you.
I like the mini composition books. I have one of those in my purse, as well as any number of pens because I dislike pencils. And I only use black ink. I make it a goal to clean out my purse on Friday afternoons because apparently I’m a tad paranoid that I’m going to run out of ink. I’ve had as many as six (six!) pens in my purse.
One last thing on taking notes: do it. I’m talking to myself here, too. When I hear that eyebrow-raising quote that arrows straight to the heart, it’s easier to let the moment flit away than write it down. However, that could be the beginning of a devotional or article that I’ll never have the privilege of writing if I don’t catch it while I can.
Look around, smell the flowers, listen to the birdsong, and touch the rain.
The weather is turning chilly and there are plenty of those whisk-you-away wintry afternoons that lull me into that lovely writerly mood. I’m tempted to ignore the feeling.
It would be easier to just shut my eyes, stop my ears, stuff my artistic side in a box and my heart along with her. It would be so much more convenient for my schedule to not want to dabble in pieces of poetry or attempt to write a new novel…but then I remember why.
God didn’t give me creativity so I could cram it away for semesters at a time while I play super-student. He didn’t make me talented with words so that I could toss that gift away.
For it is a gift, this artistic side of me, this thrill of excitement that comes with crafting a new piece, splashing words onto a screen, watching the ink trail across the page like a ribbon of icing on a cake. This is beauty (once it has been edited, anyway) and it is meant to be released and unleashed into the world so that it might be seen what it can do.
For that reason, I write.
For that reason, I refuse to let the artist die. She is going to live and by her living, may others be blessed.