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Excerpted from Walking in This World by Julia Cameron. Copyright 2002 by Julia Cameron. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 

"Creativity is inspiration coupled with initiative."

  Julia Cameron, Walking in This World, Part 2

Doing any large creative work is like driving coast to coast, New York to Los Angeles. First you must get into the car. You must begin the trip, or you will never get there. Even a night in New Jersey is a night across the Hudson and on your way. A small beginning is exactly that: a beginning. Rather than focus on large jumps-which may strike us as terrifying and unjumpable-we do better to focus on the first small step, and then the next small step after that. "Oh, dear," you might be sniffing, "where's the drama in such baby steps?" Think about that for a minute. When a baby takes its first step, it is very dramatic.

Today my mail contained a manila envelope from a friend, a born storyteller who spent years wanting to write and not writing. Last June, on a perfectly ordinary day, Larry did an extraordinary thing for him: He picked up a pen and started writing. I now have a fat sheaf of stories in my hand. All he needed to do was begin. And then begin again the next day.

Often, when we yearn for a more creative life, we cue up the sound track for high drama. With great dissonant chords crashing in our heads, we play out the scenario of leaving those we love and going somewhere lonely and perhaps exotic, where we will be Artists with a capital A. When I hear this plan, I think, Okay. You do it. Experience has taught me that my artist performs best when the stakes are lower. When I keep the drama on the page, pages accumulate.

I hate to say this, but making art is a little like dieting. One day you just have to start and what you do that day is the beginning of success or failure. I cannot write an entire book today, but I can write one page. I cannot become an accomplished pianist, but I can put in fifteen minutes of piano time. Today you may not get a one-woman show in SoHo, but you can sketch the battered leather chair with your cocker spaniel sprawled in splendid comfort or you can sketch the curve of your lover's arm. You can begin.

Creativity is inspiration coupled with initiative. It is an act of faith and, in that phrase, the word "act" looms as large as the "faith" that it requires.

When we do not act in the direction of our dreams, we are only "dreaming." Dreams have a will-o'-the-wisp quality. Dreams coupled with the firm intention to manifest them take on a steely reality. Our dreams come true when we are true to them. Reality contains the word "real." We begin to "reel" in our dreams when we toss out the baited hook of intention. When we shift our inner statement from "I'd love to" to "I'm going to," we shift out of victim and into adventurer. When we know that we "will," then we couple the power of our will with the power of future events. In this sense, what we "will do" becomes what "will happen."

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