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What follows isn’t a poem. It’s a playful inventory of basic intentions that guide my creative work—indeed, my daily living. It sets forth how I aspire to conduct myself as a “maker” and as a human being. I’ll always be “on the way there.”

This list isn’t exhaustive. It isn’t final. And nothing on it is absolute.

I invite you to jot down the ABCs of your creative life. (Don’t tell me that you’re “not creative.” You’re alive, aren’t you? Spinning the silk of one’s life is the most creative process of all!)

I wrote my ABCs with my finger in the dust on my furniture. Who has time to clean when there’s an amazing world to help make?


Acknowledge your creative gifts.
Assemble whatever will help you create.
Anchor your creative efforts in what matters to you.
Adapt and thrive within any circumstances.
Assume abundance instead of scarcity.
Ask for help occasionally, if only to stay in practice.
Appreciate the makers who have gone before you.
Act with regard for those who will come after you.
Always begin again.


Build a nest in which to create.
Brave your fears.
Believe in the possible.
Bless your community through your making.
Burst into bloom.
Breathe, breathe, breathe.


Care about how you make as much as what you make.
Catalyze changes with the energy of your making.
Celebrate what you bring into being.


Develop your gifts and skills.
Do what excites you.
Do what intimidates you.
Delight in the making of other makers.


Establish a creative routine.
Embrace mistakes and struggle.


Free your creativity from boxes, labels, and ruts.
Follow the nudge of inspiration.
Feed your sense of wonder.
Find no fault.


Greet whatever arises with acceptance.
Gain from everything.
Give generously from your creativity.
Go outdoors.


Hope relentlessly without clinging.
Help instead of hindering.
Have nothing to prove to anyone.
Howl when you must.


Inhabit your days fully.
Invite feedback but don’t blindly adopt it.
Integrate the unfamiliar.
Initiate the young into ways of making.


Jam with other makers, visionaries, and truthtellers.
Journal your ideas, insights, and dreams.


Kneel and kiss the ground you walk on.
Keep at whatever brings you joy.
Know how little you know.


Lower your defenses.
Listen well.
Look for the magical.
Learn without end.
Let go of outcomes.
Love yourself.
Love the world.
Lighten up.
Laugh a lot from your belly.


Make from your true spot.
Minimize doubt.
Maximize trust.


Need less.


Orient yourself by your life purpose.
Organize to activate your potential.
Open your creative tap wider.
Obey the Muse.


Pay attention.
Practice, practice, practice.
Pace yourself.
Pause when necessary.
Plan only what must be planned.
Play even while working.
Persevere through problems.
Praise always.


Question the “shoulds” and “musts.”
Quit each day with something left to do.


Relinquish control.
Radiate kindness and respect.
Remember there is no failure.
Receive with gratitude and humility.
Retreat with regularity.
Read more than you talk.


Slow down.
Stay in the present.
Seek creative balance.
Surrender your perfectionism.
Set boundaries around your creative time.
Say “no” more often, with grace.
Say “yes” only when you mean it.


Travel as you’re able.
Transcend the givens.
Transform yourself and the world through your making.


Use whatever you’ve got as creative material.


View your life as creative process.
Value what’s right in front of you.
Validate yourself.


Wish for nothing you won’t work for.
Wander at your leisure.
Waken to wonder.


X-pand your awareness.
X-clude nothing through prejudice, inattention, or ignorance.
X-it activities and groups that confine or diminish your spirit.
X-plore what you don’t know and haven’t done.
X-press opinions only when asked.
X-pect nothing.


Yield to the unknown.


Zoom out when overwhelmed.
Zoom in when uninspired.
Zigzag and spiral instead of proceeding in straight lines.

Photo by Susan Holt Simpson on Unsplash
Phyllis Cole-Dai

Phyllis Cole-Dai has authored or edited eleven books in multiple genres, including historical fiction, spiritual nonfiction and poetry. She lives in Brookings, South Dakota, USA.

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