Coach Marla Beck
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On Creative Courage (I Can’t Believe I Said “YES”)

by Marla Beck

in brilliant creativity

 

It’s not easy to be courageously creative. 

Breaking through resistance is absolutely worth it though.
Here’s a recent story from my own creative life. I hope it fires you up to be more brave and committed to your writing.

A few months ago, I began surrendering to my passion for music.

As my daughter began her new school year, I rearranged my work schedule radically. Most days now, I log in 2 solid hours of music practice before I start coaching. I spend this time building voice and piano technique, studying songs and rehearsing tunes on piano and guitar. Lately, I’ve been preparing for the numerous performance opportunities that have shown up, as a direct result of me sharing music more freely with the people in my life.

Most of my performance opportunities (community coffees, private parties) have been quite easy to say yes to.  I had the repertoire and performance experience in place. I just needed to learn about sound. I embraced the challenge of purchasing a PA system, and am slowly learning how to use it well.

One of my performances, though, was not so easy to say “Yes” to.  Truthfully, the idea of it scared me silly.

A parent at my daughter’s school is an accomplished concert pianist who plays on international stages. (She’s also a fantastic, fun person.) One day, after hearing me play flute at a school function, she came to me with an idea.

“We should work up a piece to perform at the school, Marla…”

I wanted to say “No.”  Although I once practiced flute 3, 4, 5 hours a day as a music student in college, those years are long gone…along with my technique and confidence on the instrument.

Then I remembered the promise to myself I’d made at the start of the school year: “Say YES to music…even if it scares you.”

Damn.

I procrastinated answering my pianist friend.  She followed up, though, and finally, I chose a piece and got her the music to a Baroque sonata I’d first learned in high school. Thirty-four years ago.

Could I really pull this off?  I began practicing patiently, working to regain my tone and technique.

Rehearsing and learning this instrument as a middle-aged woman is quite a different experience, I found.  I can concentrate much more easily. I know how not to freak myself out when I’m working on one area of my musicality, then notice that another aspect of my playing completely sucks.  (Can you relate? I coach writers on this challenge all the time. ☺)

After a few weeks of practicing, I sang in a performance that was very well received.  I used the feedback from that night to talk myself right out of my scary upcoming performance with the pianist.

“I’m spreading myself too thin…” I told myself.

“I’ll never be able to get these movements up to speed…”  I predicted.

“Playing flute is a distraction…I’m not a flutist any more.”

I’d decided: I wanted to get out of this commitment and quit.  I told my husband and decided for certain I’d back out.

Then, I procrastinated letting the pianist know that I was withdrawing from the collaboration. I just didn’t call or message my friend to let her know. So much time passed that I felt completely lame telling her the news.

Could I pull this performance off?

A bit of grit resurfaced inside me.  Slowly I decided I had no choice. At this point, I had to follow through and try.

I’m writing this article the day before our performance.  After a few more solid weeks of practice, I’m enjoying the piece (Handel’s “Flute Sonata No. 3”) and understanding it better than I ever have before.  My tone’s decent now, and my technique? It’ll pass. I’m not playing the fast movements at tempo, but I’m damn close.

No matter how I play in tomorrow’s concert, I can say this: I am incredibly grateful

  • Grateful to collaborate with such a talented musician.
  • Grateful I said yes to this opportunity, even though I was terrified to do so.
  • Grateful I’ve healed my relationship to flute-playing, so rather than feel stressed and inadequate as I practice, most days I feel focused, joyful and productive.
  • Grateful I called myself out on my fear.
  • Grateful I followed through with my commitment.
  • Grateful I’m sharing this music.
  • Grateful I’m modeling for you, my daughter and my friends and family an example of what it’s like to honor one’s passion and talent — investing in it, developing it and daring to share it.

When was the last time you did something daring with your writing?  I hope you, too, can experience a fresh infusion of creative commitment, discipline and courage – it feels so amazing!

Please reach out, if you’ve been struggling for way too long to become the writer you know you can be. I am here to help you.

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