“The creative person is willing to live with ambiguity.” – Abe Tannenbaum
I don’t like ambiguity. In fact, that’s quite an understatement. I really can’t stand ambiguity. I’m slowly learning to live with it a bit better just because it’s an inevitable part of life, but I still don’t like it one bit.
I don’t like surprises. I like to know plans ahead of time, and I want those plans as detailed as possible. I like to know what to expect—from people, from situations, from things, from the weather (yeah, I get disappointed a lot on that one). I want to know exactly what I am getting myself into before I commit to anything.
I like clarity, definition, plans, details. I want certainty. For that matter, I want a guarantee!
Life doesn’t work that way, unfortunately. And creativity even less so. Creativity requires ambiguity in order to thrive. And therein lies the conundrum for me as a writer. I must go against the grain of my nature and walk directly into the source of my anxiety in order to find the creative spark I need to do the work I am meant to do. Without that walk into the unknown, my writing is dry, stale, and lifeless.
This walk into ambiguity is not easy to do, though. I face it every time I bring myself to a new blank page. There is no detailed plan that can dictate what the creative muse may generate. There is no guarantee that what I produce will be any good. There’s no way to know whether my time will be well spent. It’s even worse when facing the start of a larger project than a single blank page. There’s no way to know when beginning a new story whether it has what it takes (or whether I have what it takes) to become a novel. The larger the project, the greater the chance of failure!
I still keep coming back to face the blank page every day. Some days I have some idea of where it may lead me, and sometimes those ideas are close to what is actually produced. Other times those ideas are way off. Or I come to the page feeling like I have nothing to say. And every day a blog post gets written (some better than others, of course).
Every day when I come back to the page and see that something happens even without any guarantee, it builds my trust in the process. It gives me faith that creativity can work even when I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing. I slowly learn to live with ambiguity.
Perhaps if I keep practicing long enough, I might even learn to embrace it one of these days!
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.