Sometimes creation is like riding an air current: your arms are spread but you’re coasting along with relative ease, tapping into a natural (if invisible) force and using it to get where you need to be—even if sometimes your destination is different from where you thought you’d end up.
Sometimes creation is more muscle-intensive: a frantic flapping of arms and puffing of lungs punctuated by frustrated, exhausted squawking as you wobble from origin to endpoint, any landing you can manage feeling pretty good in part because it offers relief from the punishing process you’ve endured.
This can be true, I think, of any type of creation from writing a novel to painting a portrait to building a coffee table to preparing a meal.
At times we tap into unseen, borderline magical forces that lift us skyward and allow us to perceive something bigger. They carry us between states of being and help us defy gravity as we venture to bring something nonexistent into being.
Much of the time, though, we’re forced to rely on raw, meat-based propulsion and grit-powered doggedness if we want to make tangible the ethereal.
When the currents aren’t flowing in our favor, we have to leap into the air, pump our arms, and trust that our experience and fortitude will keep us from careening back to the ground before we’re done typing or forging or cobbling or chiseling.
One of the primary distinctions I see between folks who’re able to create consistently and those who haven’t yet found their footing in this regard is those in the former category have not only cultivated their capacity to catch air currents, but also faithfully exercise their flapping muscles.
They understand they have to strain their sinew if they want to reach an elevation at which suitable currents are common, while also recognizing some days it’ll be just them, their arms, and the air.
There’s nothing wrong with gliding, but doing creative work routinely requires we get comfortable with flying, whatever the weather conditions.