In May 2015, I went to BookCon in New York City. It was a magical weekend filled with about 100 authors, tons of publishing houses and thousands of book fans. I listened to lots of amazing panels, met fabulous people and soaked in the creative, energetic vibes. I’ll be sharing some of my learnings and insights from that weekend.
One particularly inspiring panel discussion at BookCon was called, simply, “The Creative Process.” I expected to learn about the panelists’ writing processes – where they are most productive, how they lay out their chapters, how to work with an editor, etc. This would have been great, very helpful. What I left with, though, was so much more. I learned how to determine my passion, how to hone in on it, how to make time for it.
The author that captivated me the most was Elle Luna. Besides having a gorgeous name that I totally want for myself, Elle was a calm, yet confident, speaker. I immediately wanted to listen to everything that she had to say.
She first became known for her successful post on Medium.com called, “The Crossroads of Should and Must.” In it, she explains how most of us have been choosing ‘should’ far too often. Think about it; you’ve probably heard these statements your whole life. “You should get a job.” “You should go to school.” “You should stop laughing so loudly in public.”
‘Should’ is important. ‘Should’ pays the bills and keeps us in check. Keeps the world in order.
Elle is of the opinion (as am I) that sometimes, we need to pursue our ‘must.’ Artists must create. Musicians must play. Athletes must practice. This is something that we’re born with, the most pure form of ourselves. No outside interference, no influence from the world. Just, you.
Elle went on to publish a fabulous book on the topic. A book that I’m currently devouring, because it is so wonderful. (See: image, above.) (Go buy the book, now.)
After her panel, I had the opportunity to purchase Elle’s book and chat with her about it. I told her that I am pretty comfortable with the ‘should’ of my life. I did the college thing. I lived at home after graduation while I saved up some money before moving to the city. I got a good, steady job that challenges and rewards me.
However, I need help with my ‘must.’ I have too many. I must write. I must read. I must meet interesting people and go to interesting places. I must purchase a nice camera and learn photography. I must learn the guitar and improve my ukulele skills. I must brush up on Spanish, and then learn German. I must, I must, I must. (Help.)
Her eyes lit up and she said, “I’ve been there.” She started flipping through the book and, using some pretty awesome temporary tattoos as bookmarks, flagged two pages that would be particularly helpful for this issue. Then, she gave advice so clear and obvious, I couldn’t believe that I didn’t see it myself. “Pursue it all,” she said. “Eventually, you’ll see them come together.”
Write a ton, play the ukulele as much as possible. Maybe one day, you’ll write a song for the ukulele. Practice your Spanish. Maybe one day, you’ll write a song in Spanish.
Keep pursuing all of your ‘musts’ until you see a pattern. Until you have an ‘aha’ moment and they all become one. So, that’s my new plan. Pursue everything.
Since moving to the city, I’ve found myself inspired by others’ ‘musts.’ Nicole is a contracts manager who is writing a novel on the weekends. Katie is a PR pro who is in the fourth round of a singing competition after work. Heather is a fundraising and marketing expert who uses vacation time to travel the world.
So, what is your ‘must’? Explore your passions – for yourself. Not for anyone else.