24 June 2013

9 – Let The ‘Real You’ Breathe

I've written short fiction and poetry since I was in high school. I kept with it while attending university.  But it slipped away from me as I moved through my twenties.

There had been short spurts of inspiration here and there during that time. But I never kept the momentum going. I'd just let it pass me by. 'Aw, I don't have time to be doing that now,' or, 'aw, I'll come back to that when I've got the time,' were my excuses. I know now that they were weak excuses. 

One day I realized it had been about ten years since I'd last put a proper effort into my creative writing. I'd also noticed that whenever I thought about the things I'd scribbled down or the ideas that I let drift through my head (and they would quite often) feelings of emptiness, disappointment, and loss would drift over me. I'd feel guilty and ashamed. I didn't feel like myself. I was settling for something less.

I resolved to pick my writing back up in the fall. Every day I tried writing something. Even if it was only a single line or a scribbled outline of ideas. Something was better than nothing.

Over the course of the winter months a good friend tutored me through a course on recovering a sense of artistic self (we did not sign up for online courses; I worked through the book and we discussed things weekly). She had done it previously and, seeing me struggling to get off the ground, suggested I may find it helpful. She was right.

I will spare you the details of the book and our weekly chats. All I will say is injecting a little artistic flavour and creative juice back into our adult lives is a good thing. No adult stops being a child on the inside. We just need to provide some outlets for the child to come out and play again.

One exercise asks you to write a short artist's prayer for yourself. Call it what you like. Mantra. Motto. Whatever. They're your own motivating words to keep you creating whatever piece of art tickles your fancy.  

I posted my verses on the wall directly above my desk. I read them every time I sit down to write something. They remind me to keep going, like my friend did.

Six months ago I read the lines without the faintest idea of where my novel idea would go. Now I read the lines before I start working on the second draft in the mornings or evenings. It's a lot of work and probably won't get any easier. But that's OK. I'll keep going because I feel like myself when I do.  

Creativity and imagination are gifts that no other creature besides us possess. Give them room to breathe from time to time. Draw or paint a picture, play some piano or guitar, write a story or poem when the mood hits you. You know it does. Who cares how good or bad you are. Do it. We may never become famous by it. Big deal. When you're finished you'll feel a little less suffocated by a world that often seems intent on smothering us. You might also feel more like yourself. 

Be creative again. It's like a breath of fresh air for the 'Real You.'


Trust in yourself, 
the way will appear. 

Take time for yourself, 
to make sense of it all. 

Listen to your heart,
to hear what matters.

Do what you love, 
and you will be happy. 

Make your world, 
and be yourself entirely.

Find courage to shine, 
and you will be a star. 


  1. Good for you! I agree that it can be challenging to keep up with your creativity, but it is so important. I've felt the same way from time to time, as I think many writers do.

    1. Thank you Jennifer. It's definitely a challenge, but it keeps you on your toes (latest solution in Essay 14). Doing even a little each day gradually becomes a lot. Cheers!

  2. Tahlia Meredith23 July 2013 at 00:11

    "It's like a breath of fresh air for the 'Real You.'" So true. Well put.

    1. Thanks Tahlia. I'm glad you enjoyed!

  3. Very nicely said, Bob. As we've shared, I think of following my dream as reinventing myself, but really, as you so nicely state, it's more just allowing myself to be me.

  4. Thanks Jason, I agree. I've found myself thinking in that way more and more also. It seems like it's more about stripping away the unnecessary excess rather than reinvention. Take it easy!


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The House Newf is from a rugged and beautiful island on the eastern edge of Canada called Newfoundland. He was first identified by a potter with a naturalist's flair, and he does in fact live in a house under the watchful eye of a cat that seems bewildered by the universe at large. That house is in Halifax, Nova Scotia and that's where the House Newf writes fiction and essays on things that add value to his life that may add some value to yours. You can contact him at bobharding80@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter @theHouseNewf, on Instagram @thehousenewf, and like him on Facebook. The House Newf is a unique specimen. Every home should have one.