Aside from filling our time in constructive ways, creative expressions of our passions and talents offer our lives depth and many benefits, including the enhancement of numerous qualities that can enrich our lives. In the following piece, I share with you how writing a book, for example, can help us develop 6 of these areas, based on my personal book writing experience.
One of the most effective ways to cultivate a richer life, one based on a deeper sense of meaning, joy, and fulfillment is by exercising our creative talents. From painting and scrap-booking to coding and sculpting, there is an abundance of ways for us to express ourselves creatively. The point here is to find what speaks to us and engage in it on a regular basis in our lives. When we invest our time and energy into the creative outlets that call to us at any given time, we infuse depth into our lives and gain numerous sustainable benefits. For example, we tend to focus less on the material world and more on our creative potential. Boredom and apathy become replaced by excitement and motivation. Our awareness tends to shift away from stresses, worries, and anxieties to hopes, dreams and aspirations. Our wellbeing benefits and we become enlivened!
For these, and so many other reasons, I always encourage people who wish to experience a higher quality of life to cultivate their creative passions. This is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves and our world. Our personal and collective wellbeing amplifies via the injection of positive, creative energies. And we need this more than ever in our modern-day society. Over the past century, we have sterilized, rationalized, and intellectualized so much of life, that we’ve lost some vital life creative components along the way. This trend has been chipping away at the very essence of our humanity to the point that life for many on our planet today has become quite bleak.
The good news is that you can begin to enrich your life as soon as you choose to via any of the wonderful artistic expressions available to us. Just think of the potential! There are so many visual, tactile, musical, vocal, cognitive, written, and spoken creative outlets to choose from. As shared above, the benefits that these experiences infuse into our lives are many. Let’s explore 6 of these, as I share them with you via my experience of writing a book.
My Book Writing Journey
Throughout the years I engaged in many creative outlets. Even though I was always heavily science-oriented, I always valued artistic and creative expressions and cultivated them as part of my regular life. One particular and consistent outlet that has been with me from a very young age was that of writing. When it comes to writing, I’ve almost done it all — from poetry and journalling to numerous types of non-fiction and educational pieces. Years ago I dabbled with the idea of one day writing a book, but given my career priorities at that time, it didn’t seem like a feasible option. That was, however, until one day, I realized the immense choice and potential that each of us have at every step of the way. After resigning from my formal career and stepping out onto an entrepreneurial path, the notion of writing a book became not only realistic, but one of my guiding inclinations.
In the initial stages of my newfound career freedom, I imagined I would just jump right into it. After all, I had the title for my first book and enough content flowing through my mind to fill the pages. As I quickly learned, however, my journey would take many winding turns before it got to the actual book writing process. I believe that everything has its perfect timing and thanks to hindsight I can fully appreciate how and why my creative expressions manifested when, and as, they did. All of this has a lot to do with the 6 qualities that writing helped me develop. As many a writer can attest, it is one thing to have the right ideas in our heads, but quite another to sit down and turn them into tangible reality.
Some writers pick a specific date to start writing their book on, others may need to work within specific deadlines. For many writers, however, like myself, the book almost begins to write itself based on a continual expression of creative passions. The visions and actions then achieve a point of ripeness when we know the time has come to integrate and share our expression. For me this took place in the early fall of 2011 when I released my first book Healing & Prevention Through Nutrition, an educational work of non-fiction, geared to help people know how to eat, what to eat, and why, as well as how to apply best holistic practices for optimal health, wellbeing, and vitality. Then, it happened again in the late fall of 2014, when I released its second, highly expanded and updated, edition. While I’ve written several digital ebooks in between that time, it was during the creative writing process of these two editions that I had the opportunity to strengthen and develop the qualities I share with you below.
I found confidence to be an interesting player along the entire book-writing process. First, regardless what creative outlet it may be, it usually takes a certain level of confidence to bring ourselves to take action and begin. Second, it takes confidence to see the project through to the end. The more any creative expression puts us in front of any observers or audience, the more confidence it usually takes to start and follow through.
Are we confident enough about our own abilities? Are we confident about our desire to start and motivation to finish a writing project like a book? These, and many other questions may surface. However, for those that do take action, writing a book can positively influence one’s confidence, as related to believing in oneself, one’s self-worth, and self-value. Writing a book, regardless whether it is fiction or non-fiction cultivates our confidence to share our truths, views, and opinions with the world. It can help us strengthen our voice and feel confident that we have something worth sharing with others.
Of course on the flip side, writing a book can also inflate people’s confidence in unhealthy ways. This happens if our Ego becomes attached to any identity or status related to the book-writing process. This isn’t something unique to book writing though, but rather something that can occur in any area of life if we do not develop a higher degree of emotional and spiritual maturity. This part of personal development is also very important so that we do not set ourselves up for illusory failure. In my eyes, there is no such thing as failure, but if one’s expectations are not kept in check, or rather not mindful, then we run the risk of diminishing our confidence by writing a book, instead of developing it.
Either way, confidence is an essential skill to bring into the equation of writing a book and something that will get sculpted along the way. For most of us, it will often present itself synonymously with courage. As we proceed through the project we need to maintain healthy levels of each of these, lest we derail our efforts. If and when doubt or fear creep in, take some time out for some inner-reflection. Contemplate mindfully, specifically about the following:
- your motivation — why are you doing this in the first place, what meaning does it hold for you?
- your fears — where are they coming from, how can you overcome them?
- your abilities — are your goals in alignment with your abilities, what needs to be done to strengthen any weaknesses, what support could be beneficial for this journey?
Developing confidence does not mean that we will become immune to fear, but it does mean that we will move forward with courage. Sometimes this will mean seeing the project through, sometimes it will mean making major changes, and other times it will mean releasing it completely. The confidence and courage you cultivate along the way will help you know how to engage the action that is best for you at any given time.
Given the large degree of social, political, economic, and environmental challenges that we face on our planet today, next to broken down family and community structures, a common coping mechanism is to erect personal, protective boundaries. While the process of how we do this may differ, the reason behind it is always the same: we want to avoid getting hurt. Many of us live within the confines of such boundaries, which limit our ability to fully express ourselves, enjoy life, experience meaningful relationships, or freely express our creative potential. However, if we can muster the confidence and courage within to take action on a creative endeavor, like writing a book, we can develop the quality of vulnerability.
Any time we share a personal expression with the world, we expose a certain vulnerable element of ourselves. We allow people into our internal world via our creative expressions. We open ourselves up to all sorts of opinions, criticisms, or judgements. Not everyone may welcome your product with the same joy and excitement with which you created it. When it comes to writing a book, people may learn things about us that they never knew before. We allow them a doorway into how we see, understand, and explain things. Our, now widely exposed, views and opinions can shatter people’s views and opinions about us. After all, people often project onto others so much of themselves, that they do not realize how much they do not actually know the true nature of the other person. The book then, enables the reader to see a side of the author that they may have never allowed themselves to see or have the chance to see before.
My personal journey into vulnerability via writing a book wasn’t effortless, but it was very rewarding. Though it may come as a surprise to some given my work today, I have a quiet and reserved nature, which has no doubt been one of my coping mechanisms to avoid common human dramas and opposing confrontations. While such a personal approach has merits, it can also hold us back tremendously in life. We may consciously or unconsciously prevent ourselves from expressing or experiencing something that can be positively valuable, helpful, or impactful for ourselves or others. This is where I found confidence and vulnerability go hand in hand. The more confidence I gained, the more vulnerable I allowed myself to be, and vice-versa.
Today, my advice to anyone being held back by this area from taking the step of some creative expression is to just go for it! When we consider consciously the consequences of this action, yes, some people may agree or like what we put out and others may not. But so what? By worrying about what others think we limit ourselves from living fully and often from making some positive contribution to the world. Don’t stop yourself from shining your light! We are not here to appease others or conform to the ideas of others or live within some dim confines of our being. Infusing vulnerability into our lives may feel scary at first, but once we allow ourselves to cross this threshold we gain something so incredibly powerful: a stronger belief in our own abilities than ever before. By developing our vulnerability, we strengthen our resilience to live our truth and be our authentic selves.
To fully understand and appreciate acceptance, we need to examine its opposite: resistance. It is this latter state of being that too many of us have made an art of. We resist, well, pretty much everything! The average person goes through their life in a state of constant resistance. Resistance to the weather, their food, the economy, the political state of affairs, to what their partner is doing or not doing, to their work tasks, and the list goes on and on. As we can learn from the wisdom of the Buddha, resistance is one of the root causes of our human suffering. This is why cultivating the quality of acceptance is such a valuable investment of our efforts and energies.
Life will not always go as we planned, or envisioned, or would like it to. This is when we have the ultimate choice: to resist what is or accept what is. If we choose to resist, suffering is imminent. If we choose to accept, we lay the ground work for a life based on inner peace and empowerment. You see, too many people mistakenly think that choosing to accept means some sort of defeat or that we condone or are okay with what happened. This is not what acceptance is about at all. We think that by resisting we are exerting our control over the situation, when in fact we are rendering ourselves helpless, easily falling into the victim archetype. When we choose to accept, on the other hand, we align ourselves with responsibility and accountability, both of which are action-oriented. We embody the creator archetype and are empowered to find effective solutions that can help us arrive at more aligned and favorable outcomes.
So what can writing a book teach you about acceptance? So much! Writing a book is normally a process that involves many components: yourself, other people, technology, timelines, etc. Any of these variables can fall out of alignment with your intended path and cause great suffering, depending on how we choose to respond. During the book-writing process, we will be presented with constant opportunities to apply the fact that we will never be able to control many elements of the external world. Banging our heads against our desks or computer screens won’t help. However, taking effective action upon accepting what is, will.
When I look back now at my personal book-writing journey, especially in writing the second edition of my book, it feels good to know that I can now appreciate and even chuckle at some of the events that transpired, as they played an instrumental role in helping me develop the essential life quality of acceptance. Some of these included almost losing over 30,000 words of new content due to software incompatibilities, having my book release date pushed back two months due to unforeseen circumstances on my editor’s end, and losing power due to a storm for several days during the most critical part of my deadline. This, my friends, is life at its finest! And while I am a sole believer of consciously creating and taking responsibility for our own reality, there are things like this that may still happen. It is in them, and thanks to them, that we are presented with some of our greatest opportunities for growth or suffering; may we choose our actions and reactions wisely.
What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.
Perfection is an interesting area all on its own. On the one hand, I am not a fan of the word “perfect” and always find it unfortunate when people belittle themselves with statements like “I am not perfect/we are not perfect”. On the other hand, I fully recognize the value of perfecting and improving on something to achieve a high quality of work. This is especially important as it relates to projects like books, which have the potential to deeply, meaningfully, and seriously impact people’s lives.
As a writer, however, one can truly drive oneself crazy in trying to reach that state of perfection that one attempts to assign to the final product. We can quickly learn that perfection truly is in the eye of the beholder, and worse yet, it is constantly changing. When the idea of writing a second edition of my first book came to me, it started with the notion of changing literally a few sentences in one chapter. I began to re-read the book and a few sentences in one chapter turned into a few sentences in every chapter. I started working on the second edition during the fall of 2013 and had to step away from the project, due to other priorities for several months. Upon coming back and re-reading my changes, I not only felt the need to update those but greatly expand upon the entire book. So out of an innocent attempt to make a few simple changes came an almost entirely new book!
Why and how did this happen? Well, you see, whenever we look at past creations with the consciousness of our present-day awareness we see things in a completely new light. This is why I share that it is never fair to judge our past choices with our present-day awareness or understanding. We grow, we learn, we expand, and evolve. That is life. What may have felt right and represented us at one time, will normally be very different at some future time. This is all okay. In fact, it is conducive to our wellbeing, as well as our personal and spiritual evolution. When we don’t allow ourselves to change or grow, we stagnate or revert or live from various states of resistance. We also give lots of ammunition to our Ego to attach itself ever more strongly to certain identities, ideas, or beliefs. So as I read and re-read the initial edition with my present-day knowledge, awareness, and understanding, I saw many areas for enhancing and improving the content and writing style. While this was good and valuable, what I also learned is that every time I picked up the book I wanted to change something, in that never-ending quest to make it perfect. As you can quickly deduce, this can turn into a vicious cycle with no end in sight, and it is something most authors grapple with at one time or another.
We have to always remember that we, as living, conscious beings, are dynamic beings. Material items, however, like a book are not; they are static things. We have the potential for growth, change, and transformation daily and as this occurs it often naturally takes us out of alignment with our past creations. This is where the book-writing journey can help us develop a healthy relationship with the skill of perfection, which will always go hand in hand with the skill of acceptance. Even when all the t’s are crossed, i’s are dotted, and commas are in the right places, there is always something we may wish we said differently, or wish to add or remove. This is where the balance of perfection comes into play: there is a time to change and improve and there is a time to accept and let be.
When it comes to humility, I feel that it is the common thread that helps us develop and keep each of the skills we touched upon—confidence, vulnerability, acceptance, and perfection—in balance. Humility can positively impact each of these, as it grounds us and reminds us that we are but one part of a greater whole. If our Ego attaches itself too strongly to a sense of confidence, life usually has a way of balancing things out with humility. Humility can also help us demonstrate and develop a healthy sense of vulnerability. For those times when life happens beyond our expectations, be those positive or negative, acceptance is reinforced by humility. Humility also allows us not to take ourselves too seriously and strive for unhealthy levels of perfection.
For me personally, humility has also been one of the most beautiful parts of this journey and most amplified via the feedback that I have received about my work. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of receiving various notes of communication from people all over the world sharing how positively my book has impacted their life or how much they’ve benefitted from it. Whenever I read any of these pieces I am deeply moved to the core of my being because I am reminded that it is not “me”, as in my Ego, that is responsible for the creation, but something much bigger. Whether it is when I write or when I speak, it is then that I most strongly feel connected to the grander nature of who I am, beyond the body and mind, and who we all are. I feel myself tapping intimately into the collective consciousness and simply allowing that which wishes to express itself to come through. It is a unique merging of the physical and spiritual, from the heart and through the heart, as my intentions for creating all that I do always come from the space of adding value to help people live in the most optimal of ways.
It is always incredibly humbling, therefore, to have one’s intentions be reflected in the feedback received. What I have also discovered during this process is that this is a positively self-reinforcing feedback loop. The more the outcome reflects my intentions, the more my confidence is strengthened in ways that allow me to keep expanding my vulnerability and sharing my talents openly with the world to benefit our collective.
Ultimately, by engaging and committing ourselves to a creative expression like writing a book, we are strengthening our muscles of motivation and dedication. As I’ve learned early on in my journey, having wonderful ideas for books one wishes to write and actually writing them are two very different things. Having the idea is easy, taking action to turn it into a tangible reality is a whole other story. This is where perseverance comes into play.
There may be long days and hours involved. There may be setbacks and unexpected challenges along the way. There may be interactions of a supportive or resistive nature. Our inspiration may wane, our motivation may wane; we may often find ourselves questioning if it is even worth it to continue. We may be tempted to walk away and let it all go. It is here that we need to tap into the well of perseverance. Re-visit mindfully your motivation, as touched upon in the confidence section above. For many of us this will usually be enough to get back on track. If we have a talent, a skill, a passion, or something of value to share with the world that can in some way improve the lives of others, may we find enough perseverance to continue.
The book writing process can provide a wonderful platform to practice, develop, and strengthen our skills of perseverance, motivation, and dedication. This set of qualities is essential for leading an effective life for there will often come times when sitting back, doing nothing, or giving up become most attractive to us. Life offers us many challenges and it is how we respond and persevere in the face of these that provide meaning, purpose, and wellbeing. All too often we may feel that it is not worth trying or continuing on with something, but most often these are simply our fears and insecurities getting the better of us. So start by asking yourself what is that you really want and why. Allow yourself the time and space to hear your inner being speak and feel the desires of your heart and soul. When we tap into that space of motivation, when we find that something that gives us meaning or gets us excited, it is then that we take the first step on our journey of creative expression. We don’t need to know where we will go from there, each step will present itself accordingly, as long as we are open to receiving it.
Whether you choose to write a book or not is of course not the point of this essay. The point is to inspire you to listen authentically to the call within and cultivate your creative expressions, whatever you choose these to be. They in turn will help you develop valuable, personal characteristics, expand your being, and improve the quality of your life.
For those of you who are specifically interested in writing books, I hope that by sharing a piece of my journey and experience, I have in some way enriched your path. If you feel a call within to write a book and share some part of yourself, may you follow through on that call, as it can provide for a wonderful platform for personal and collective transformation. Please note though, that my approach to all of my creative endeavors, including writing a book, is not the typical path common in our society. I don’t focus on how to have a best-seller or make the most amount of money or boost the Ego. When we develop and evolve our emotional and spiritual dimensions, life takes on a very different meaning and purpose. Our motivation for doing what we do shifts drastically, and we move away from the material world and the desires of the Ego and move toward the consciousness that connects us all and the desires of the spirit.
This is why I am called to share with you this last part: in the end, it is not about the final product, such as how many books you sell, or how many people you impress, or how the world portrays you or your creation. Rather, it is truly about the journey and what we learn along the way and how we develop ourselves as human beings. May we therefore not lose sight of the bigger picture, but know that what you can learn, gain, and strengthen along the creative journey, of something like writing a book, will be more valuable and sustainable than any material gain or external recognition.