August 9, 2011

What Wrong Turns Have You Made?

Danger, wrong way, turn back warning sign

Kristen Lamb asked an interesting question on her blog last week, Are We Born to Create?  Her posts often make me think and inspire my own posts here.  (Her unofficial muse skill is one of the reasons I’ve dubbed her “awesome-dipped-in-glitter” (TM).  *smile*)

More specifically, she wondered if creative people are born to create.  Many creative jobs don’t pay very well, so as Kristen said:

“[W]hen we tell our family that we want to be a writer, what they hear is akin to, “Blah, blah, throwing away college education blah blah cult blah Kool-Aid, blah blah writer.””

Because of reactions like that, I’d guess many of us creative types traveled a roundabout journey in our lives before committing to our creative needs.  Kristen tried business, the military, politics, sales, and law school on her way to acknowledging that her happiness depended on being a writer.

For money, we often do non-creative work as our “day job.”  I’m no exception, and yet I’ve always found ways to be creative.  As a child, I designed houses castles.  Then I moved on to crafts, gaming, interior decorating, landscape design, etc.

But none of those creative expressions gave me the satisfaction of writing.  So not only was I journeying through day jobs, but I was also journeying through creative outlets until I found “the one” I was passionate about.

Maybe most people are creative, but they never stumble upon their passion.  Maybe their creativity always remains a sidelight or hobby because of that mismatch.

Matching creativity with passion might be like a relationship.  Some of us find the love of our lives in high school, or after we’ve had a few uninspiring dates, while others of us find it only after we’ve given up on love.  So maybe the unfortunate few who look like uncreative types simply haven’t found the outlet that matches their passion.

Of course, once we find our passion, we can still misstep.  Artists experiment with different mediums or styles, musicians change from country to rock, and writers try different genres.  We want to find the perfect fit because being creative is hard work.  We rip out our insides and place them on display for others.

I could get depressed that it took so long to find my passion, but I try to live my life without regrets.  Those various day jobs and false starts made me who I am today.  And I like to think that a writer with layers is a writer who can write stories with layers.

So were those other activities really wrong turns?  Or did all that help me become the writer I am today?  The “write what you know” advice works better when we know and have experienced more.  I’m an optimist, so I choose to believe my journey has helped me.  *smile*

What wrong turns have you made?  Have you had interesting experiences with your day jobs that help your creativity?  Have you experimented with multiple creative outlets?  How did you know which was “the one”?  Do you think your journey has hurt or helped you?

Comments — What do you think?

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Laura Pauling

I knew which creativity was the right one when I didn’t mind the tedious part of it – editing/line editing. I don’t mind any of the writing process. and I think we’re all born to be creative and create. It’s part of what separates us from animals – that higher level thinking. Some people just have more talent and passion for it. Or their life has allowed them to develop it.

Charissa Weaks

I think that when you get up every day excited about what you do, you’ve found your passion. If whatever you do is as fun as chewing shards of glass, then you’ve missed it. It took me a while to find my niche too, but now I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Shain Brown

At a young age I wanted to draw, but no matter how hard I tried it wasn’t there. The proportions were off and the heads look like marbles, and wheels like ovals, which was disappointing because I wanted that to be my outlet.
Not long after I gave up on my creative side thinking the analytical side was who I was. I did well, but if only I would have found writing much sooner. Or maybe you are right Jami? Either way I appreciate who I am and my writing much more today.

Sarah Pearson

Sometimes I’m sad at all the time I ‘wasted’ before trying to write seriously, but then I realise I probably wasn’t ready to try.

Better late than never 🙂

Susan Sipal

The journey has hurt, absolutely. But not all pain is bad. As writers, we must embrace the pain if we’re going to write catharsis.

I LOVE this post, Jami, because it ties in so deeply with a book I read years ago that changed my life: The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron. Her basic premise, which I’ve come to believe to be true, is that a certain % of the population is born with highly sensitive traits. This developed as survival mechanism for the species.

HSP’s are the ancient prophets, magi, and storytellers, as well as musicians, artists and others whose sensory perceptions are more highly attuned to their environment. They were (and are) the lookouts on the hill who warned the clan of approaching danger.

It’s why we feel empathy and emotions so deeply and can convey that on paper. I recommend Aron’s work to anyone working in a creative field!

Patrick Thunstrom

“And I like to think that a writer with layers is a writer who can write stories with layers.

So were those other activities really wrong turns? Or did all that help me become the writer I am today?”

I absolutely believe where we’ve been makes us who we are today. I’m working on a side project now that’s getting out the raw emotional baggage of my failed marriage, something which is horrible, but with time I know will help add to my fiction (And it has added other things to my life, too).

I’d not trade it at this point, for anything.

Of course, I also believe that everyone is born creative and those who ‘aren’t’ creative have either allowed their creativity to atrophy or killed it intentionally.

Catherine Johnson

I’m passed the stage of regretful career decisions. Secretly hoping I never have to work in an office again. But even the early temping jobs had the benefit of meeting some seriously interesting people 🙂
Don’t forgot some writers don’t discover writing until they are in their seventies. Imagine!

Dean K Miller

Along my journey I’ve come to learn there are no wrong turns. If they lead us to a place we don’t want to be, we’ve learned that aspect of ourselves and our next choice is now made with experience. Fretting over right and wrong only distacts us from our true journey, and from our chance to express our creativity in whatever form we choose.

I’ve always felt I’d find what I was looking for, even when the path was dark and tangled. Standing still would not solve the dilemma, so I moved forward, not in wrong or right turns, but always looking ahead of me without regret for what I’d left behind.

Had I chosen differently back then, I wouldn’t have ended up here. So rights turns all the way…

Lisa Gail Green

For me it was inevitable I think. I’ve been writing on and off my whole life. It was always in the background. Someday I’ll write. So I finally decided to make now “someday”. The only time I’ve ever felt close to this was when I was acting, and even then it was not quite the same. Thanks for the post!

Michele Shaw

My path to writing was long and winding, but it couldn’t have happened any other way. If I had tried to write a novel when I was 18, it wouldn’t have been very interesting. That’s why I’m so impressed with all these great young authors out there! I couldn’t have done it. I didn’t have enough living and experience, and I also couldn’t have handled the rejection and criticism at that time. Everything I went through and experienced has made me the writer I am today. Whether that’s good or bad, I know it’s how it was meant to be.

Stacy Green

I’ve taken many wrong turns. When I went into college, I was determined to be writer. My advisor (head of the journalism school) told me that magazine journalism was for all the people who wanted to be writers but never would be. I listened to her instead of majoring in English or creative writing. I disliked most aspects of journalism, so I never fully put my heart into it or school. I felt like I made a lot of mistakes in college and in my early life, never got the big job I thought I would. It’s only been in the last five years when I chose to stay at home with my daughter that I’ve come into my own and remember how much I love to write.

Most days I tell myself everything happens for a reason and that I’ve learned from the mistakes, but I still get into the dumps about it.

Great post!

Roxanne Skelly
Roxanne Skelly

I will put my foot down and say that software engineering is a creative pursuit even if it seems dry and technical to some. When I write software, I create something that wasn’t there before.

As far as wrong turns, in my school career I made the mistake of believing the negative feedback from my english teachers, and convinced myself that I was no good at writing. I suspect they didn’t exactly try to teach me as I was a math and science nerd.

Was mumble-mumble-a-lot of years before I attempted this form of storytelling again. Fortunately, it seems, lots of written communication in my daytime career piled on the writing experience, and I’m now finding I’m doing pretty good at those basics.

The storytelling was always there, fortunately.

Kristen Lamb

Yeah, well that was just the different JOBS. I went from ballet to jazz to playing clarinet (was #1 in the state). Then back to writing, then sewing, then singing then drawing, then painting, then scrapbooking, the photography………..and finally back to writing.

I still can play clarinet. My dancing isn’t bad and my singing is passable. My cross-stitch looks like someone cut loos a 5 year old with a needle and thread. The drawing is so-so, the painting is actually pretty awesome and my photography is pretty good too. Scrapbooking is just too much to organize…so, yes, I now write. And I think I am pretty good, :D.

So yeah, I took the winding path on my creative life too. I am like Goldie Locks, LOL. But, hey, I wouldn’t trade any of it.

Happy to inspire another post!!!!

Tamara LeBlanc
Tamara LeBlanc

“Awesome dipped in glitter” is about the best description of Kristen Lamb I’ve ever read!
I believe that everything, and I mean everything, happens for a reason. So basically I don’t look at mistakes I’ve made as mis-steps. I embrace them as educational experiences. I learn from them and move on.
Like when I stood on the top rung of a ladder yesterday to prune a tree…I was unbalanced, bobbled like a drunk and then fell 8 feet. I ended up cushioned (I use the term cushioned lightly. I have scratches from head to toe and ripped my favorite t-shirt, but avoided a broken neck)by a boxwood bush, but I know now never to do that again.
See, a learning experience:)
Great post!
Have a fantastic evening:)

Tahlia Newland

I’ve always been creative and known that – I go slightly bonkers if I’m working on something, be it art, performing or writing. I trained as a teacher, then worked in the performing arts for 20 years and now I’m writing. I don’t think I’ve made any mistakes because I did follow my creative inspiration for all those years and everything in my life has brought me to where I am today. Also, I didn’t have anything to write about when I was younger. I do feel that I have finally found my true medium and will be a better writer than I was a performer .

Kerry Meacham
Kerry Meacham

I recently changed genres, and it was absolutely the right thing to do. I’m so energized now, and the perceived effort to brainstorm and write is 10% of what it was before. It just seems to flow now. But….it has all made me what and who I am today. Zero regrets. Thanks for another great post.

Avery Olive

This was an excellent post. It sure made me think a lot, and probably will be making me think much into the night, tomorrow and for a long while.
I admit when I told my family I was writing, I had already completed two novels. And the response was less than stellar. But I didn’t care, because I was writing in the wee hours of the morning, when I had a spare minute here and there.
Sure I’d love this to be my full time gig, aside from raising my son, and it will happen one day. I don’t think I’ve made a wrong turn yet 🙂 I think that with each word I write I grow as a person, a writer. And I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t write those first novels, I like to believe they were just helping me get better.

Gene Lempp

The biggest wrong turn I’ve made on this journey was sitting my pen down at age 18 and not picking it back up again until my late 30’s. Of course, during that time, I read extensively, traveled, considered life, studied dozens of subjects that led me to study more, started a family and took on a professional career (did I mention I studied). I see all of this is useful to the writing and path I’m on now.

You made a great point: “write what you know” advice works better when we know and have experienced more.” I’ve looked at the writing I did as a teen and at what I do now and the difference is an ocean’s width of skill, experience and maturity. I wouldn’t trade any of it, just wish I hadn’t lost my pen for so long.

Great post, Jami 🙂

Susan Bischoff

This makes me think of one of those time travel movies where the slightest thing gets changed and you go back to where you were and nothing is the same. If I’d had the confidence to pursue writing single-mindedly (okay, that feels like a real term but I spellcheck doubts me) from childhood, I’d have missed out on the wider range of experience that feeds what I’m doing now, and what I’m doing now wouldn’t exist. Some kind of “If she would have been faithful, if she would have been true, then I would have been cheated, I would never know real love, I would’ve missed out on you” thing. I know it’s post-Cetera Chicago, but don’t let that turn your head.

Anyway, I think I’m inspired to write a new post now, thank you very much. So while, yes, Kristen is awesome and awe-inspiring, you’re pretty sparkly yourself–in a total not overbearing vampire boyfriend way. Prepare to be pinged next week.

Darcy Peal
Darcy Peal

Darcy was a precocious young lad. He was constantly taking everything in the house apart to see how they worked. He was always experimenting with something; constantly blowing all the fuses in the house. He built extremely detailed models, and flying machines that took chunks out of the ceilings. My voice was raw from constantly screaming “Darcy!”
Darcy and his “creativity” cost us thousands of dollars, our sanity, and few trips to the hospital. However, no matter what we said or did he continued on in his creative little world, I was so glad when he took up writing. Pen and paper did not cause many problems, at least not until I read some his material. I just shook my head and said “maybe things will change when he grows up”.
Darcy’s Mom

Well I am all grown up now mom and not much has changed except my writing is a little more focused now. Thanks for letting me express myself in so many ways, it all added to my writing skills of today.
Wrong Turn Darcy

Roxanne Skelly
Roxanne Skelly

You know, I do find it fascinating that so many seem to have put their storytelling in stasis until their late 30’s and 40’s (myself included).

Perhaps a topic for another blog post.

Suzi McGowen

“Pain is the only doctor we listen to.”

I knew that creating things was important to me, but I didn’t know how important until my marriage was falling apart. Writing was a huge outlet for me. (I even created a blog that was written by me, but five years in the future. A way to imagine how I wanted my life to be.)

Was I born to write? I don’t know, but I know I need to write to keep on living 🙂

Jacquelyn Smith

I always wanted to either be an artist or a musician growing up. Although I enjoyed creative writing in elementary school, I never considered it my calling. It wasn’t until I had to write a short story in highschool that I really caught the writing bug.

At first, I convinced myself it was just a hobby, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. I have tried for most of my life to be ‘practical’ and ‘realistic’ (according to the standards of others) with my job choices and ambitions, but at a certain point, you just need to jump off the hamster wheel and follow your muse.

I like to think my previous experiences have helped to shape me and have given me tools/lessons that I can apply to other aspects of my life, including my writing.

Thought-provoking post!


Oh man, this post. Yes and more. You hit so many nails on the head – perhaps you should have been a carpenter instead of a writer.

Like Shain, I wanted to draw when I was young – but I couldn’t hack it. And I never fully committed to it. If you’ve yet read any of my blog posts, they say how I learned that my problem with committing to anything all the way through comes from my childhood. I’ve tried a lot of things. I’ve tried music, and I love singing still. I was on the radio as a DJ. I’ve done customer service – and still do in a tech support field.

But my real passion is writing. And learning about my problem committing has freed my mind to be able to write without too many problems. And like you mentioned, yes I do feel like now that I’ve found this passion – it’s ALL I want to do. Spend all my time writing. I’ve learned a lot about myself, but I can say that I am a creator…and my passion is writing.

Nice Star Trek reference, I love TNG. Also, hope you don’t my frequent posts on your blog – I JUST LOVE YOUR POSTS! Brilliant content, Jami. 😀


[…] that’s been rolling around in my head lately and writing here was inspired by a bit of this post by Jami Gold. She was musing on a post by Kristen Lamb in which Kristen mused: Are we born to […]

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