When I found Sean’s profile it felt like I was reading Writing Our Way Home’s mission statement. It’s always lovely meet kindred spirits. And it’s also lovely to welcome him to our series of creativity interviews today.
Welcome, Sean. What drives your creative work?
A love and corresponding need to reflect back my own experience, my own inner truths, and — as I’ve said countless times in my writing and mindful living classes — to witness the world within and without. To simply witness is itself a creative act. Indeed, to be is to create. Too often we relegate creativity to certain artistic types — writers, visual artists, musicians, etc. — rather than recognize that we are, each of us, inherently creative beings. Our every act creates our world, which we, in turn, share with others.
What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and meet yourself at the beginning of your creative career?
I wouldn’t know how to find the beginning of that creative career. What career isn’t, by definition, creative? As noted above, creativity’s an inherent part of who we are. Children are, of course, creative from the get-go. What, more poignantly, would an earlier creative self have to say about what I’m now doing? That earlier self might well give better advice than I could offer him.
How do you keep creating when things get difficult?
Creativity is at least as apt to emanate out of that difficulty as it is to stultify it; that is, if we have learned to allow ourselves to feel, to not fight but allow for, the difficulties when they arise. And, by this, I mean the corresponding physical sensations which arise in our bodies, whether of fear, uncertainty, self-judgment, or any other emotion or feeling, including joy. If we haven’t learned to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, then difficulties can throw us off center, and our creativity can, of course, wane. But if we’ve learned this lesson experientially — to acknowledge, allow for and even honor the uncomfortable — then we find that this simple acknowledgment begins to process out of our system whatever underlies the uncomfortable feelings. The more we experience this miracle, the more deeply we’ll trust in, and truly honor, the process — the whole kit and caboodle, the whole sometimes deeply perplexing enchilada. Rather than suffer by trying to exclude the reality in our midst, we, instead, take that initial step towards the necessary action which has within it the very seed of inspiration. This seed, if nurtured, will lead us on to the next step, with the courage born of awareness and trust in the creative process.
How does your creative work affect the rest of your life?
It is the rest of my life, there’s no separation.
What is it like to send your work out into the world?
It’s a crucial part of the whole — of the creative process, and of the cycle of my work and, thus, my life. I’ve worked hard to forge a life in which I needn’t demarcate one aspect of myself from another. My working life is my creative life is my personal life. I love, for instance, that an inspiring walk in the woods, along a meandering stream, or atop a chalk cliff which drops from the South Downs into the sea below can be turned into an article or essay, a simple blog post, or a video to upload to YouTube and Mindful Living Guide, or to send off to an editor elsewhere.
What was the best advice anyone gave to you?
Listen to, and trust in, your intuition. I believe my intuition gave me even that bit of advice.
What helps you to pay attention to the world?
The world itself. It’s continuously unfolding before our very eyes — within our very bodies — calling itself to our attention, there, always, to wake us up from our unconscious slumber.
Thanks so much for being here Sean. I’m sure we’ll cross paths again!
As a Creative Writing & Mindful Living Guide, Sean M. Madden offers Writing, Literature & Mindful Living courses and workshops — and one-to-one guidance — worldwide. He’s also the creator of the new Mindful Living Monday (#mlmon) and Writing Prompt Thursday (#wpthu) communities. To keep apprised of Sean’s online and in-person offerings, sign up to the MLG newsletter. You can also follow him on Twitter @SeanMMadden, connect via Facebook, Google+ and YouTube, or email him.