Don't Wait, Just Do It!
Skip Blaeser

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"I n creating, the only hard thing's to begin; A grass- blade's no easier to make than an oak."
James Russell Lowell , A Fable for Critics

Chances are, when your hectic personal and professional lives let you be, you consider yourself creative. "It's just that I don't have time," you say. "After all, there's the job, there are the kids. What time do I have to [act, sing, sew, take a class]?"

It is a complaint common to all of us, even those of us who make their living in traditionally "creative" professions. Talk to a professional freelance writer and find out exactly how many articles he/she has to write on "marketable" subjects before selling one written on a subject dear to the heart.

The truth is that there are very few of us out there who can honestly say that they have all the time they need or want to be "creative", to follow their dreams. Believe it or not, even the Danielle Steels in our midst catch colds and have days when their kids drive them crazy.

The basic concept should not be unfamiliar - it's been expressed a thousand times in a thousand different ways for a thousand years: you get out what you put in; no pain, no gain; you can't make something out of nothing. But often even knowing that you've got to make the effort doesn't make the getting started part any easier. You're exhausted when you get home from work. It's all you can do to throw something together for dinner and perhaps get a load of laundry started, much less pull out those notes on your eternally half-evolved novel or that jumble of phrases you've been trying to set to music for the past year.

I won't try to throw the obvious at you: that you have to make the time, that you have to set priorities. That you have to set "30 minutes" aside every morning and that novel will be done before you know it (sure it will). That you have to play soothing music, send the kids to grandmother's, or even my personal favorite, "wake up early, before anyone else in the house is up!" (As if I'm not already up at that hour doing the laundry I didn't get to the night before!)

I will, however, approach you on the subject of getting started and staying the course from another direction. No, actually, make that two directions:

I will first tell you about a female physician I once had the pleasure of meeting at a casual gathering. Judy was in her late forties (my mother's age at the time, actually) and I mistakenly assumed that she had of course been practicing for a number of years. I was shocked therefore to hear that she had only received her medical degree a few years earlier. In fact, she had been married and divorced, married again, and had four children before she even decided she was going to go to medical school. "It wasn't an easy decision. I didn't know where I'd get the time, there were the kids to deal with, the debt I'd get myself into - and of course, because I had to start from the very, very beginning, taking all the science courses required to even apply to medical school - I knew that even if I were lucky, I would probably be 37 or 38 before I even entered medical school. That would have easily made me 45 or so before I even emerged from the school and residency years."

So how did she manage to get herself together for all that? Judy confided that for her, the answer was simple. "Well, on the other hand," she laughed, "if I were lucky, I was going to be 45 years old anyway. As the saying goes, we've all got to start somewhere, and there's only one guarantee out there - if you don't start, you definitely never finish."

I wholeheartedly agree.

And then you may take this last point. We have all heard the aphorism that everyone on this earth is given the same 24 hours in a day. Sadly, however, it is equally true that not all of us are given the same number of days. How many of us are so sure that we will be here for the number of years it may take us (at our current snail's pace) to complete that novel, that musical composition, that play? How many dresses do you have at the back of your closet that you've never worn, how many pieces of good china, how many good bottles of wine that are all waiting for that oddly elusive "special occasion"?

I myself am thirty years old. Not so young anymore, to be sure, but also, I tell myself, not so very old. I've still got time. It has always been comforting to me to think of all those first-time authors out there who struck it big at 40, 45, even 50. I've still got time, I have told myself time and time again, always putting off my writing until "next weekend" (it's always "next weekend" for me).

And yet just last month I learned of the sudden death of an old friend of mine, a girl I lived with for three years at a small, upstate New York boarding school. Only a year or two older than I, I remember her as a beautiful, bright blonde, vivacious girl (I know everyone uses that word, but believe me, she really was) who loved to write poetry. Her name was Kate, and when she passed away, so unexpectedly, she left behind three children under six years old. I can't help but wonder what she left behind for her children, or what she might have done differently could she possibly have known her time was so limited. Would she have done less laundry and written more poetry? It is a hard lesson to learn that even under the best of circumstances, we simply do not always have tomorrow.

However, this much is true: even in the worst of circumstances, we all absolutely have today to create, and to leave something for tomorrow. Pick up that pen now and take a few notes. Turn on the computer. Turn off the television (it will work again in a a few hours, I promise). Pick up those pastels, buy a new tablet of paper. Don't look for the next magazine time trick to try or even wait for the next weekend. And, as they say,

Just do it!

"Every animal leaves traces of what it was; man alone leaves traces of what he created."
Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man.

Skip Blaeser is a former attorney and recently converted stay-at-home mom who enjoys raising her lively 2 year-old son Kent and the opportunity to finally pursue her longtime secret passion for historical fiction writing. Skip graduated from Princeton University with a degree in French Literature and received her J.D. from Boston University.

email Skip at:

Other SECTION Articles...

| Your Health Matters | The Question Of Identity | The Creative You: Finding Your Own Way | Don't Wait, Just Do It! | | The Mystery Of Poetry | ALIVE Online | COMPUTEREASE: The Creative PC | Emerson on Creativity and Poetry |

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