Don’t Let the Artist Die

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.

don't let the artist die - by @rachellerea on @ylcf

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.

Take notes.

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.

16 Comments

  1. This was a beautiful post! Oh! Isn’t it so easy to ignore the responsibility The Lord has given us by endowing us with His Talent!
    It’s easy too, for me to hide behind the “selfish” excuse – I.e. spending time on my writing is selfish because Im thoroughly enjoying myself instead of keeping busy with house work or whatnot.
    But we must rally ourselves, not allow ourselves excuses, and press forward in His Strength!
    They that rest upon The Lord shall renew Strength!
    In Him:
    April

  2. I have been letting the artist die, too! And just this week became convicted that I needed to resurrect her by feeding her a bit more often! lol This post was excellent–loved the tips. May I add one that I found helped breath life into my inner artist this week? Hang out with other artists. Those friends who regularly make time for the art in their life, Guaranteed to convict and inspire!

    1. Oh, Trina, you’re so right! I wish I had included that one! I had the blessing to get involved earlier this semester with a small group of writers that meets once a week on campus (in addition to a group I’ve been a part of for a year now that meets monthly) and it’s just great. I’m so grateful to have that time to look forward to when verb tenses will be a joke to someone besides me. πŸ™‚

  3. Wonderful and inspiring post, Rachelle! I shall have to put the mini notebook idea to practice. πŸ™‚

  4. Very inspirational post Shell darling! πŸ˜€ Loved it! I always carry a little notebook around with me too…though, yes, there are times I don’t write down that lovely whisper of a thought and later wish I had. πŸ˜› And uh…*cough* I’ve had a lot of pens in my purse too. You’re in good company. πŸ™‚ Hehe.

    Love ya!
    ~Rachel~

  5. Thank you so much for this…I really needed to hear this. I’ve been letting my artist (writer) self die a slow, painful death. She is very neglected, pale, and her ribs are showing. God has been prodding me on this issue lately. He didn’t make me a writer in order for me to neglect that part of me. πŸ™‚ <3 Thanks again!

    1. Oh, wow, as bad as all that? Well, I wish you extremely well in revivifying her! πŸ™‚

  6. Wow, I don’t want to tell you how many pens I’ve had in my purse at once (let’s just say it was well into the double digits). I think the obsession with pens is totally a writer thing.

    You inspired me to put a pretty red notebook in my purse again. I forgot how much fun I had looking for ideas while I was out and about. I simply must remember to look for those ideas while getting my weekly dose of culture. πŸ˜‰

    1. Double-digits, Debra! Wowzers! Yay for the pretty red notebook and culture! πŸ˜‰

  7. This is so neat! I’m an author, and it DRIVES me! I’m constantly getting myself in ridiculous situations because I want to experience everything! (My husband and girlfriends have learned to just turn a blind eye to some of my more nutty mini-escapades.)
    I’m not saying that danger is fun, I just think that if there’s an opportunity to explore something new, do it! I can’t tell you how many abandoned structures or lonely pieces of nature I’ve wandered around with a whimsical look in my eye. The inspiration conceived in such places is AWESOME!
    Touch the rain, sister! Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Jessiqua (cool spelling!), this summer I went on a mission trip to Costa Rica and on one of the days we drove past a former sanitarium that is now a tourist site. I wandered around in there and almost got separated from everyone because I was daydreaming about the many stories to be found in that place! So, abandoned structures, yes!

  8. This is beautiful, Rachelle, thanks so much for sharing. Thanks also for the reminder to keep my handbag stocked with paper and pens! I never, oddly, seem to have both when I need them together … in spite of frequently having 3 or more pens in my handbag.

    1. Ah, I’m not the only one to have oh-so-many pens! πŸ™‚ That’s a relief!

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