Don’t be shy. Try!

Beth Nyland's Sprinter Story

I am a daily practice junkie, thanks in large part to Noah Scalin and his Make Something 365 journal (as well as writing practice challenges such as NaNoWriMo and NaPoWriMo). When Noah and Mica started coordinating #CreativeSprint, I was an early adopter. Why not?!

Every time I participate in a month-long sprint—or even a year-long marathon of daily practice—I discover ideas, techniques, and angles I know I would otherwise leave untouched. The first time I participated in #CreativeSprint, my theme was words. As a writer, that was my comfort zone. On the most challenging days of that Sprint, I noticed that I responded not with words, but imagery. Could it be? This writer has a visual side? What an eye opener!

This past Sprint, in April 2017, I chose no theme whatsoever. I wanted to be open to possibility, letting each day’s prompt inspire a unique response. As the month went on, very few of my works included words; most were visual. And my favorite day, Day 16, was a particularly challenging visual assignment: recreate your favorite work of art. Standing at my kitchen counter with an unsophisticated collection of nubby colored pencils, I attempted to interpret a piece by Georgia O’Keefe. Guess what? It’s not bad!

So #CreativeSprint has surprised me with opportunities to play—and even succeed—in new forms of creative expression. My comfort zone is still words, and I’m delighted when the prompts take me to poetry; but I’m much more courageous now about risking my time and energy on other forms.

The enduring lesson I take from every Sprint is this: Don’t be shy. Try! What’s the sense in stopping short of creative action? What do we have to lose?

I give this advice to my consulting clients, my writing students, my children, and anyone who will listen to me yammer on about creative practice: Quit being so guarded. Try stuff. Share what you make, and then move on and make some more. It’s all forward motion, and by god, we need the momentum.

Find more of Beth's work on Instagram 

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