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Spills, Flubs, Imperfections and Other Pathways to Genius

    Muses are the mythical girls from Ancient Greece in charge of bestowing creative inspiration upon mortals longing for divine expression. Creative inspiration for the modern day mortal has been much more difficult to access due to our present day onslaught of increased distractions, addictions, and choices. Hence, the muses found it necessary to upgrade themselves from outmoded Greek icons holding harps to new and improved creative forces with the power to free a mortal's imprisoned splendor despite the challenges of the twenty-first century. In the book, The Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard), I was commissioned by a pack of muses to write about their recent upgrade. I was their scribe.

    One of the major blocks to a mortal's creative freedom is the debilitating epidemic of perfectionism. This includes immobilizing fears about appearing inadequate or making mistakes, as well as spending inordinate amounts of time fixing, reworking, and polishing already acceptable works. Reminder: perfection is in fact AN IMPOSSIBILITY. All works are works in progress .. the trick is knowing when to stop. Thus, one of the nine new muses was assigned to the mission of freeing mortals from this restrained, unsatisfying mode of approaching the world. Her name is Spills and she is the Muse of Practice, Process & Imperfection. She promotes flubs, mistakes and the liberating, energizing approach of engaging in creative pursuits with verve and abandon.

    In the quest for perfection, mortals often give up because a mistake is made or it is difficult capturing the intended look or sound the way it was imagined. Creative seekers also abuse themselves. Constant self-criticism when we are unable to meet unrealistic expectations stifles the creative process, causes low self-confidence, and results in abstaining from sharing what may be moving, inspiring, and important creative contributions. Another common reaction is to freeze, not attempting anything thus limiting life experiences. Inadequacy and frustration are avoided, yet the rich and healing life experience of creativity and the reward of sharing God-given gifts are missed as well.

    Spill's recommendations for transforming our perfectionistic restraint into inspired creative liberation are as follows:

    Step one is to redefine creativity. Scott Adams says, ''Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.'' In order to engage in the creative process, know that mistakes and inadequacy are actually required. When you have chosen to be in beginner�s mindset you open yourself to possibilities beyond the formulas and restricted areas of that which formerly was. When you are a beginner, mistakes are natural. So are discoveries. Blunders can actually become new forms of expression. Jackson Pollock threw paint - it became a movement. e.e. cummings forgot to capitalize his letters - a whole new form of poetic beauty was invented. Countless artists have discovered passionate voices by experimenting, finding unexpected genius in mistakes and risk taking by following where those mistakes lead. Give yourself permission to do the same. Anne Lamott has cracked writer's block for thousands of stumped writers by telling them to begin with a terrible first draft. They start, flounder, discover and flourish, they flourish because they started without expecting their work to be perfect. James Joyce said, ''A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.''

    Step two. Have patience with yourself. Creativity is a timeless flow. Being in the process is a reward and experience in itself. Suspend judgment and be a compassionate, wonder-filled observer. Don't expect quick results; just know every minute in the process can deliver sudden discovery if you are open, present and not so worried about the product. Marva Collins states, ''If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything.'' Know that practice brings insight and an ability to break any former rules you thought you had to follow. Fred Astaire said, ''The higher up you go, the more mistakes you are allowed. Right at the top, if you make enough of them, it's considered to be your style.''

    Step Three. Surrender to Acceptance. Spills, the Muse says, ''When you surrender to the acceptance of any result that your participation delivers, you move from judgment to wonder, from fear to ingenuity, and from stunted expert to bedazzled student. The most enlightened beings approach life always as students, open to learning something new about themselves or about their craft. They work not toward one end, but into the bliss of the moment. No matter what product is created, they become better people because they participated.'' Not only that, but some mistakes are just too fun to make just once.

    � Jill Badonsky, M.Ed.
    Jill Badonsky, M.Ed is a creativity coach, performance storyteller and author of the book The Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard), 10 Guides to Creative Inspiration for Artists, Poets, Lovers and Other Mortals Wanting to Live a Dazzling Existence. See www.TheMuseIsIn.com for a complete listing of the new muses and their wisdom.

    The Muse Is In
    jbeansky@netscape.net