I took a blog sabbatical two years ago. And I learned many lessons in that time. With the blinders off to that world, I saw writing is bigger than blog posts, publishing books, or building a platform.
Those things are great, but we need to allow ourselves to express ourselves fully creativity, not pigeonhole our creativity into one medium - or as writers, one genre.
I’ve learned art always trumps ambition.
We have a responsibility to be true to our art.To create what our inner muse is telling us to. Whatever the outcome.
If you have a great creative idea, but it’s a genre or medium you've not used before…then create that. Listen to the beat of your creative heart and work on what’s really going on.
If this means not working in the genre or medium you're used to for a while, so be it. Don’t sacrifice creativity on the altar of sticking rigidly to one particular medium.
Ultimately, what’s more important - creating the honest, authentic work which is being birthed inside, or limiting it to a genre or medium where its not best expressed?
In terms of writing, it’s entirely possible to keep on blogging whilst working on other projects anyway. I’ve been working on a book for a while and am developing other ideas, but I’ve still been blogging.
But I can’t limit all my ideas to one or two mediums. If I have an idea for a project which isn’t a book, e-book or blog post, I’m still going to pursue it, because I need to listen to the muse. I’ll prioritise my ideas, but ultimately I’m still going to make that thing. And I know I love creating and working on those bigger projects, and if I need to devote more time to them, and less to my blog, I will.
Art, and writing, is not about platform building. It's not about selling books. It’s not about building our own kingdoms. It’s about creating the work you were born to make, and sharing it with the world.
It’s not wrong to want to build a platform, grow a following, make money from and expand the reach of your work. As I said earlier, those are healthy desires, in their place. Ambition can be a beautiful thing. But none of this should come before the art itself.
To be fully alive, to be who we were born to be, we need to create the work we were born to make. Not make ambition, status and success the idols to which we sacrifice and compromise our work.
When that happens, the work we produce tends to be rubbish anyway. It’s not true. It’s not honest. It’s not authentic. And no matter how much we try, that will always come through in the work. Even if it's hugely successful.
This isn’t an ‘either or’ however. It’s possible to make a living from your work, but to be true to your creative heart. There any many - Rob Bell and Don Miller for example - who I would say are both authentic, and manage to make a career from their art.
Indeed, one reason these people might have been successful is precisely because of the honesty and integrity of their work. Creating the honest work is more important to them than the end result.
So don’t limit yourself to one medium. Create what’s in your heart. Be honest, and real in your creative work. And then see where it takes you.
Put ambition in it’s proper place, lay down obligation and duty, and listen to the inner muse.
It will liberate you, and allow you create the work you were born to make.
James Prescott is a author, blogger, writing coach & podcaster from Sutton, Surrey. James edits 'Christian Writer', the official magazine of the Association Of Christian Writers.
He has authored two e-books, 'Dance Of The Writer' & 'Unlocking Creativity', which you can obtain via his website www.jamesprescott.co.uk. You can listen to his podcast on spirituality & creativity, 'James Talks' on iTunes.