The Bereshit Bara Creativity Series asks 13 Creatives to wrestle with how they make the first move, write the first word, fling the first brush stroke, peel back the first layer of clay? What inspires them, what moves them, what drives them? I’d also like to hear from YOU. Send me your thoughts or a link to your post wrestling with these questions at email@example.com.
If you comment on today’s post you will be entered into a drawing to win Tyler Braun’s debut book Why Holiness Matters. You have until Friday to enter and I’ll announce the winner over the weekend.
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Those of us who write know the awful feeling of staring at a blinking cursor on a blank page. For those who paint, it’s the bristles of the paintbrush sitting in the paint while staring at a blank canvas. For those who write music, it’s the fingers resting on the keys of the piano waiting for inspiration to come.
I liken it to staring out into the empty expanse of the desert. We see seemingly no life. Everything around us is dead.
Something I can only describe as God-breathed or magical (depending on your worldview) happens between the blinking cursor, my rising pulse, and the finished product of beauty.
I could write about the four principles that drive me from beginning to end, but those principles won’t work for you. We love to create a formula for creating. The problem is each of us was made differently. We each have different passions, desires, and experiences. Why is it that we then try to formulate overcoming the blank page into tried and true principles and action steps? We should know better.
Here’s the reality I’ve come to know about creating out of emptiness: It takes humble submission.
Creatives don’t need more confidence or more inspiration to do the work. Nope, creatives need humility in order to create well.
Somewhere in the midst of the blinking cursor and my rising pulse I have a moment of clarity when I realize I’m incapable. I cannot do this creation on my own. I do not have the ability. My own worldview informs me that it is the God inside of me who begins His inspiring work once I’m able to get my own arrogant agenda out of the way. Why must I learn this lesson over and over I wonder?
In the creation account found in Genesis 1, God has created much of the world we see around us, even the cosmos our own eyes cannot see. He made it and called it good. But the work continued on as God created Adam and Eve.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26)
Think of the implications of this as it relates to our own ability to create:
1) We are created in the “likeness” of the Creator.
2) The same creative power that breathed the universe into existence lives in us.
We could translate Genesis 1:26 by saying God created us to be His “icons” or reflections or windows. We were made to point to Him.
So what does any of this have to do with overcoming the blank page? Everything.
As we lay down our own agendas and our own creative arrogance for the sake of serving the Creator we have an opportunity for Him to work through us. We were made by Him, with His creative imprint, to go about our lives creating for the sake of our Creator.
Between the blinking cursor and the finished product is the place where we humbly sacrifice ourselves for the sake of becoming people the Creator can use in order to create through us.
True creation comes through no other way.
Creatives need to humbly submit themselves to the Master Artist.
Tyler Braun is a 27-year-old INTJ living in Portland, Oregon with his wife Rose. He works full time as a worship leader, while also finding time to study at Multnomah Biblical Seminary in pursuit of a masters degree. Tyler’s first book releases in August of this year through Moody Publishers and is available for pre-order now. You can find Tyler on Twitter, Facebook, or his blog.
15 thoughts on “Creativity Series: Tyler Braun “The Blinking Cursor and My Rising Pulse””
Ross- I loved that I could listen to the post, and I think your blog is rad. Nice work, keep it up!
Thank you for following my blog. And this is just the reminder I need today. The wall that I usually sense when sitting down to write that blocks the creative flow can be likened to the walls of Jericho, no? It was simply by trusting in God and doing the seemingly pointless thing He told them to do that the walls came tumbling down.
Looking forward to more inspiration!
Love that picture of the walls of Jericho that you spoke of here Caroline. Thanks for sharing it.
Wonderful. Reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ quote: “Remember He is the artist and you are only the picture. You can’t see it. So quietly submit to be painted” (posted the whole quote here: http://adelekonyndyk.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/remember/.) It is not that we are passive in the work, but we have to submit ourselves to the Spirit in order to create works that authentically reflect our Creator. So much of it is about getting out of the way–to, as you say “humbly submit” to God. Thank you for this post, Tyler.
Such a great quote from CS Lewis there. Fits perfectly within the topic of the post. We are definitely not passive. That fits well within the subject of life as a whole. We still do work, but how we do it is far different than many seem to focus on.
Great post! Love the perspective, although mine seems to be completely opposite. I think iitwould be refreshing to have the “empty” feeling. Thank you for sharing.
Care to elaborate on why you find the empty feeling refreshing? Not saying it’s wrong or anything, just curious.
Care to elaborate on how the empty feeling is refreshing? I’m curious to hear your perspective on that.
So right–and so hard to get out of my own way. I’ve been grappling with this a lot lately.
Humble submission: don’t think I can hear this enough. Certainly don’t practice it enough. Never sure exactly how to make it happen, either. But I’m willing to give it the old college try. (Which I guess makes me a seducer of humility. Maybe not the best role to be in, seducer. Is that the problem?) Anyway, thank you, Tyler, for this reminder. Good stuff. Does the rate of cursor blinks matter?
I prefer slow cursor blinks, that way my heart rate slows down since I’m usually drinking coffee and my heart races like I’m chasing down someone. It’s not healthy.
A fellow worship leader pointed out to me the other day that the ministry of leading worship in music is one of the few ministries in which we actually direct the words spoken/sung by others, and as a result, we need to be very careful about the songs we choose for our congregations to sing. I appreciate the reverence in this post because I think writing is a bit similar, in that it provokes (hopefully) some meaningful thought in others. It can be so powerful, for either clarifying truth or causing confusion. Thank you for the reminder that we ought to always desire for Him to be the ultimate source of all we create.
I have accepted that the poem or song is already written; all I have to do is remember it. It takes a lot of the pressure off.
Tyler, enjoyed your essay. Humble Submission is a place I don’t inhabit much. Humble submission seems to me a state formed by the mysterious fusion of will and grace, another in series of “you must lose it to gain it” truths that so frustrates my desire to control. I can’t get there, I must keep relearning, by wiling it into existence. However, when, as you so gracefully put it– “I have a moment of clarity when I realize I’m incapable. I cannot do this creation on my own. I do not have the ability”– I know the painting or poem or prose is now possible. We are not ultimately, as you point out, the Creator but rather “re-formers of His good creation. In the end, responsible only to be faithful to the call.
Thanks for your submission and thoughts, Tyler. I live in the desert literally. The valley of Phoenix, for me, is not a barren burning waste land or just a sprawling rivering metropolis of man but a creative place of open sky and vast lonely spaces that are inhabited by the subtly lovely flora and fauna of our desert fathers and mothers as we desert dwellers reside and rest and create in the community and sacredness and solitude of God’s aridity, strangeness, and silence. Best, Paul