April Gathering: Is Your "Editor" a Friend or Assassin?

Grove April Gathering Highlight

One of the new ideas birthed out of our monthly Grove Artist Gathering is to share with you a highlight or two of the evening. If you weren't able to make this month's Gathering, live out of state or in another country, we want to encourage you with these Grove gleanings. Our hope is for you to experience a richer life in Christ that your roots may grow deeper in your relationships and the creative work He's called you to.

Our April Gathering marked our first change of venue in over two years, so we were a bit nervous hoping everyone would find our new location at Ron & Sherri Alden's beautiful home in San Juan Capistrano. Fortunately, we had no reports of failed GPS searches or people lost at the border of Mexico.

Gathering dinner preparation. Photo by Shannon Rurup.

Gathering dinner preparation. Photo by Shannon Rurup.

When our friends and new guests arrived, they were treated to a delicious meal prepared by Sue Bibee, Pamela Cutrone and our Grove culinary team. Since Tom and Teresa Clark generously hosted the Gathering the past two years, so it was only fitting for Tom to lead everyone in a heart-filled blessing over the Alden home.

Later, singer/songwriter and regular Grove Gathering community member, Bob Bennett, shared his amazing artistry through story and song. After singing new songs and playing familiar favorites like A Song about Baseball and I Know My Redeemer Lives, Bob offered his thoughts on the craft of writing and the creative process in a Q & A forum moderated by Roy Cochran.

A Key Question

In this large group conversation, Bob raised a key question, "When you're creating your art, what do you do with the Voice inside your head?"

He went on to explain that there is a place in his mind where ideas are birthed as well as a guy he called “The Editor,” who breaks into the nursery and kills the ideas before they have the chance to mature and develop.

Bob's guy is dubbed "The Editor." What's yours?

Have you given the Voice inside you a name?

Others have called it The Assassin. The Critic. My Demanding Father. My Nagging Mother. My Third Grade Teacher. The Voice of Doubt. The Inner Saboteur. That Nasty Little Tyrant. Or Spawn of Satan.

Author of Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life and Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, writer Anne Lamott deadpans, "It's listening to K-F-CKD Radio."

If you're not tuned into the right frequency in your heart as you create, that Demanding Critical Voice will gladly step up to intimidate you. Make you afraid. Cause you to compare yourself to other artists and their success.  Woo you to worry. Self-hatred. Inner sarcasm. Let alone seduce you with the Siren Song of Sloth drawing you to hide in a closet with a half-gallon of Mint Chip ice cream.

Don't let the Voice inside bully you.

Bob Bennett sharing his music. Photo by Connor Cochran.

Bob Bennett sharing his music. Photo by Connor Cochran.

On the other hand, the Voice inside you doesn't have to be the monster underneath the bed he's often made out to be. The Greeks had a Muse. Even Stephen Pressfield, author of The War of Art: Break Through Your Blocks and Win Your Creative Battles, still adamantly believes in a Muse. It's the idea that inspiration is available to everyone if we're open to it, committing ourselves to hard work, and trusting that good work will follow as we stay focused on our craft. (The War of Art is a great little read!).

Others would said their inner Voice is a God-given friend. It's the Holy Spirit. Christ in us, the hope of glory. An entry into the dance of the Trinity.

The Voice inside your head can be a great editor, helping you choose ideas, weaning out the great, good and terrible ones. That Voice can keep you focused, encouraged, and persevering over the long haul of creating a piece of art. It can spur you on to be a better artist. A better creator. An image-bearer of your Creator.

Like a favorite teacher, beloved high school coach, or inspiring mentor, that Voice inside you can keep whispering, "Com'on! You can do this! You are made for this!"

So what about you? When you're creating, how in tune are you with your inner Voice? Is it a friend or foe? An enemy or Allie? Or both? Does it inspire you and intimidate you? Does it fill you with doubt or new dreams?

As a writer for over thirty years, I've spent many long hours staring out the window or at the blank page before me, deeply engrossed in these ten words, "What in the hell do I have to say today?"

I've spent a lot of time listening to that Voice, which for me, is both friend and foe. On days when the Voice is friendly, I welcome it and gladly accept its instruction, which often leads to moments of laugh-out-loud laughter or the cool rhythm of creative flow.

On those bad days when I can't seem to write myself out of a paper bag and the Voice is spitting out snickering loathsome critiques, in my more lucid moments, I'll just tell it to go stand in the corner with its nose to the wall. And I keep writing.

The creative process is more about perseverance than perfection. More about patience than productivity.

Ultimately, what Voice you listen to will determine the outcome and quality of what you create.

Oh, there's so much to be said about this topic, which is why I'd love your thoughts. We all have so much to learn and share with one another, which is why I hope you're able to glean something good from this Gathering Highlight. There's always lots of extra fruit to share...

Please leave a comment below. What you have to say just may encourage another artist today.

Questions: Tell us about the Voice inside of you. Friend or foe? Helpful or hurtful? Both/And? As you create, how aware are you of the conversation going on in your heart and your head?