You Have To Believe

If you create, at some point you have to actually believe in what you create.

A long while ago, a friend asked me to consider writing a post for a blog. And at first, I was totally thrilled that they would ask me, then besieged with all manner of ideas, then actually began writing three different posts from little idea seeds that had sprouted…

And then the whole thing died a lingering, slo-mo death.

First, because I also had to have an author bio to go with it, so of course I had to take the time to get that together, and of course that little project pretty much brought the rest of it straight into a brick wall.

Then, after re-reading the things I had written, and finding more and more to tweak, I came to the conclusion that they weren’t the ‘droids I was looking for, waved my hand in front of my face in a mystical mind control gesture, and moved on, waiting for inspiration to prompt me to write the actual pieces instead of these literary poo piles.

Next, after having these little gems kicking around in my iPad like those little bumpy balls you use in your dryer (What? You don’t know about the bumpy dryer balls? They’re awesomely weird and weirdly awesome!), I finally decided that these were the ‘droids I was looking for, sat on my hands before I could do any sort of mystical waving, and gave them to my proofreader. She did her usual lightning quick turnaround, giving them back to me ready to send on.

– But –

I still wasn’t sure. I found a word I needed to adjust over here, a phrase I wanted to change over there.

I still had to write a bio. (Yes, that’s a “thing” that slows me down. In my creative flow, tiny pebbles in the stream can totally kerfluffle my kayak.) And, the great sucking hole of doubt, fussiness, and general tomfoolery took another little writey thingie down to its watery demise.

If you create, at some point you have to actually believe in what you create.

The joy of creation doesn’t carry you through – it can propel you into beginning the process, but the joy of creation alone will never sustain you through all the hard work between a shiny new idea and an actual something being born.

You have to believe.

You have to believe that your gifts are more than capable of bringing this fancy, this dream, this idea out of the seething cauldron of your imagination into reality. And that, eventually, you’ll be able to craft this idea into a real, tangible thing that’s worth releasing into the world.

Then, at some point, you have to actually let it go. (Anybody humming a song from a certain movie with a really chilly title will immediately be escorted off the premises. And yes, I’m serious. And no, don’t call me “Shirley.”) Once it’s out of your hands and into the world, others are ready and willing to “comment” on your new thingie. And if you’ve ever read some of the “comments” humanpersons are capable of, you’ll see the potential land mines for a fragile creative spirit.


People can be kind, but they can be incredibly cruel as well. And when they aren’t face-to-face with the target of their “commentary,” the cruel side sometimes wins. Poor Anakin. The Dark Side wins again.

If you don’t believe, the comments can kill you. Or make you turn away from even considering the notion of bringing something into the world. Belief is the power, the protection, the foundation and the fortress of the creative spirit.

Don’t confuse believing with ego, as I tend to do. Don’t think a healthy acceptance and appreciation of your giftedness is the same thing as being deluded enough to believe your own press releases. Believing that you actually possess a gift and have something to bring to the party is worlds away from believing that you are the party.

Belief and humility can dwell within the same spirit, and make beautiful music (art, writing, computer code, etc.) together.

To dream, to create, to release… you have to believe.

Dear creative soul (and they who love those creative souls), know this – the joy of “doing the deed” will carry you far, but that joy lasts for a sprint, not a marathon. To go the long miles, all the way to the finish, you need something far more powerful. You need to believe.

If you create, at some point you have to actually believe in what you create.

And I’m not sure that I do. At least, not yet. But I’m beginning to know what I don’t know. Stay tuned…


  1. Denise says:

    Loved this, Cal. Your Breathe blog post brought me here and I completely agree with this: “belief and humility can dwell within the same spirit.” I just need to amp up the belief part. I also believe that clueless and curious can dwell together. Maybe we could start a “club for the curious clueless .” Curiosity has kept me going for the entire 10 years of Breathe attendance. Yep, you read that right. I’ve been to every conference. Seeds are finally sprouting. It’s definitely a process and there are no right and wrong timeframes. Thanks for sharing!

    • Cal Olson says:

      “Club for the curious clueless!!” Oh good heavens and great gravy bones, I LOVE IT!!!

      I SO get the “amp up the belief part” – it so spills over from my music life to my writing life to my faith life. The balance between humility and accepting my giftedness is a tough one. But I’m getting there – ever so slowly. Blessings to you – if you happen to see me at Breathe, be sure to say hello!

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