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Push Through to Bloom

Steps to making your creativity work for you when it's hard.

This spring, the daffodils have been epic. I’m always in awe of them, how they lie dormant for months on end, and just as the soil is barely regaining its warmth, the long blades, like arms, begin emerging out of the ground as if saying, “I have triumphed over the most challenging darkness and journey! Look, there is snow all around me, but I’m going to turn into the most vibrant and fragrant piece of art you can imagine, one tiny little stretch at a time!”

There is a point in every rehearsal process where I feel a lot like this daffodil; dormant, slow, and stuck, wondering if the sun will ever shine bright enough for me to create.

I get an overwhelming sense of responsibility which morphs into dread of what lies ahead. I realize the amount of attention I will have to give myself and the patience I will have to stay the course. I know some essential self-love is on the horizon, and I want to recoil and stay in the ground. Usually, for me, it’s some forgiveness for missing the mark, forgetting a Verdi accent, not doubling that consonant, being behind the conductor because I wanted to take time for the acting beat requested by the director.

It also rears its head when the flow of the daily rehearsal process ends, and we head into the theater to start running the show. I’m excited but resist because I hate losing the layers we’ve added due to new factors such as costumes, lights, stage spacing, and a new acoustic.

It’s most difficult for me when it’s time to rehearse a death scene repeatedly without losing the truth. I dread that rehearsal day like no other, often sitting in my hotel room with nagging anxiety and sick on my stomach.

Why is creating so damn hard? Why is it like pushing boulders of rock up a hill all alone? If this isn’t how it is for you, fine. You can skip on ahead. But I imagine that anything involving a creative layering process will also include some sort of resistance, doubt, possible abort mission thoughts, and some tears.

It’s just how it is. Look at that daffodil. It has to push through rock, dirt, and snow just to be here. It won’t happen any other way.

But I’ve learned some things I want you to consider trying when you find yourself in this chasm of doubt and resistance.

First, acknowledge and expect that somewhere in the joy of creating, there will be a snag or two. Or three. Or maybe the whole thing will be a total loss. Who knows. You don’t. You just need to be aware that it’s possible. I don’t mean to anticipate dread, but just be comfortable knowing that you are aware of what it means to be creating: You’re going to do hard things, kind of like having to work muscles to failure to progress to new levels of fitness.