I recently found some notes I jotted down the last time I read Women Who Run With the Wolves.  I read this book about once every 2 years because it’s so inspiring.  It’s one of those books that fits perfectly into whatever situation I’m in at any given time.

The last time I read it, I found 9 incredibly profound, life-changing essentials for the creative life.

Try drawing them out & posting them on your wall.  Try reading them every day & they’ll transform the way you look at your life and art.

Dr. Estes believes creativity matters because it’s an essential trait of the wild woman.

A woman’s creativity is her most valuable asset, for it gives outwardly and it feeds her inwardly at every level: psychic, spiritual, mental, emotive, and economic.

But let’s not get too hung up on gender, ok?  Because she is an archetype, the Wild Woman belongs to everyone, no matter what their body parts are.

She is the part of our soul that is the instinctive self, the one that always knows exactly what is right or wrong, what is safe or dangerous, who sniffs out the path of life according to our own heartbeat.

She is beautiful because of the beauty she brings to the world.

She is the Life/Death/Life force, she is the incubator. She is intuition, far-seer, deep listener, loyal heart.  She encourages humans to remain multilingual; fluent in the languages of dreams, passion, and poetry . . . she is ideas, feelings, urges, memory . . . the is the voice that says, “This way, this way.”

Here are the Wild Woman’s 9 essentials for living the creative life:

1. Receive Nurturance

Open your heart and mind to all the good there for you.  And if it’s not there, you are responsible for finding it.  Accept and invite compliments, positive feedback, helpful suggestions, a timely tip or opportunity.

When these come your way, say thank you & lift yourself up; don’t put yourself down.

Silence the voice that wants to silence you.

2. Respond: Open your mind to all the possibilities and situations around you and then make decisions.

This decision-making is creativity in action.

In order to be creative, you must be willing to say, do, and be.

Remember: “loss of our creative milieu means finding ourselves limited to only one choice, divested of, suppressing, censoring feelings or thoughts, not acting, not saying, doing, being.”

3. Be Wild:

Censor nothing.  Let it come.

That means you need be willing to be terrible and terrified.

Shitty first drafts, bad ideas, terrible songs, crappy recipes . . . it’s all of a part.

Your job is to stay curious, gather the ideas & trust your instincts.  You’ll know when something is worth keeping.  (If nothing is worth keeping, move on to the next project & censor nothing).

“But what if it sucks” is the creator-killing question.

4. Begin:

Be willing to fail.  If that’s too scary, start small.

In creativity and innovation, failure is a good sign. No creator or innovator created anything without failing.  But first: they had to face their fears of failing in order to BEGIN.

Expect failure so you are free to begin.

5. Protect Your Time:

You will feel selfish, especially if you’re a woman.  You will feel paranoid that some people (maybe many people) will think you are selfish.

You will have to face the possibility that . . . maybe you are actually selfish.

Pencil yourself in anyway.

Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.

6. Stay With It:

Let nothing stop you.

Acknowledge and honor the fact that your biggest enemy, at least for awhile, is probably your own negative complex.

When you encounter resistance, inquire.  If you’re doing this right, you’ll encounter a nearly perpetual resistance.  When you feel like giving up, you could try remembering this:


7. Protect Your Creative Life:

Once you have one, you know you’ll starve without it.  You’ve probably fought pretty hard to get one so protect your practice and your work.

As Clarissa says, “show your incisors if necessary.”

8. Craft Your Real Work:

This is where your values come into play.  This reminds us to “insist on a quality creative life.”

This is about your dream work – not say, writing web content about tractor trailers or photographing weddings.

There is a difference between this type of work and your real work because one feeds you and one doesn’t.  

Staying in touch with the wild woman means means being in touch with what feeds you & what doesn’t.

9. Lay Out Nourishment for the Creative Life:

There are 4 types of basic nutrition for you: time, belonging, passion, and sovereignty.

So, guard your time & spend it only on what feeds you.  Stock up on support, tend to your passion like the fire it is, and hold to your power to act, say, do, be.

Some say the creative life is in ideas, some say it is in the doing.  It seems in most instances to be in a simple being.  It is not virtuosity, although that is very fine in itself. It is the love of something, having so much love for something – whether a person, a word, an image, an idea, the land, or humanity – that all that can be done with the overflow is to create.

Powerful stuff.  Let these essentials from the Wild Woman School of Creativity sink in slowly.

You’re not alone + your creativity matters.  You MATTER.  We can’t do it without you.


Showing 6 comments
  • Cassandra Key (@cassandra_key)

    I’ve never thought about reading this book until now. All liberating points, but especially this one: expect failure so you’re free to begin. Wow! Yes, that’s what my soul needs to hear. Sharing this 🙂

    • Cynthia Lindeman

      Cass, it can be counterintuitive, right? We’re taught to expect success – and failure is taboo. I think it’s a fine line but as we do creative work, taking the pressure off eases the process. You write or create whatever, detaching from the result.

  • Nela

    Wonderful advice, it should be hanging on the wall over my desk all the time to remind me 🙂

    • Cynthia Lindeman

      Nela, why don’t you set some time aside this week to make yourself a little poster?? I did that last week with one of Leonie Dawson’s blog posts that I found really inspiring. It probably looks like a kid did it but it’s going on my wall anyway 🙂

  • Reply

    Love it. I haven’t read Women Who Run With The Wolves for YEARS…think I might have to dig it off the bookcase and have another look! Great post, thanks. x

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