A few years ago, Liane Moriarty, the author of Big Little Lies, was a little burnt out. Her books have sold millions of copies and been adapted for the screen by Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon – and with that wild success came a great deal of pressure. Liane found that the sheer joy of writing had all but disappeared. And so she committed to a ‘year of joy’.
It takes a great deal of courage to press Pause on a very public career and declare your intention to listen to music, to read poetry, to play with words for their own sakes. But that was Liane’s commitment. During that year, her sister Jaclyn sent her a writing prompt: a fallen bicycle surrounded by apples. It sparked a story for Liane, a story which became Apples Never Fall. It was, she says, the commitment to her ‘year of joy’ which allowed her to find a new story.
Creating the circumstances for creative joy shows a determination to believe in your own potential, a commitment to show up for yourself.
Somewhere in the creative process, there is joy. It’s a crucial part of leading you, of training you, to be the artist you can be.
If you can breathe on that joy, you can fan it into a flame that will sustain your creative life.
- Where has there been joy in these last few weeks?
- What practices or reflections or writing prompts have allowed you to feel joy?
- Was there a day, or a writing moment, when you experienced creative joy?
- What were the circumstances? Were you with other people or alone? Was it quiet?
- Were you outside, or snuggled on a sofa?
- What other elements were in place?
- What could you do to replicate those circumstances today?
Who isn’t afraid when embarking on something new? Who doesn’t quake at the thought of trying to feel differently about their creativity, or about the world? Why shouldn’t we be afraid?
But courage doesn’t require the removal of fear. It simply requires trying.
Could you commit to your own year, or month, or week – or day – of joy?
And if you need more exhortation, let me leave you today with Mary Oliver’s ‘Don’t Hesitate’.
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate.
Give in to it.
There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be.
We are not wise, and not very often kind.
And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left.
Perhaps this is its way of fighting back,
that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world.
It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins.
Anyway, that’s often the case.
Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty.
Joy is not made to be a crumb.
Today’s Prompt (After Mary Oliver):
I noticed it when…