The Magic of Manifesting Ideas (And How It Looks and Feels in Real Life)

I was chatting to a successful business owner recently. He came to see a workshop of a musical I am writing and was speaking animatedly to me about how much he enjoyed it. I explained how hard it had been to get it to this stage and how easy it would have been to have had the idea and never done anything with it. He said that it sounded exactly like creating a new business. You have a seed of an idea and then you go about turning it into a reality. It exists in your head at first, you don’t mention it to anyone, but the more you pay attention to it the more it comes into light and starts to become more detailed and vivid. The idea then gets so big that it has nowhere else to go but out of your head into an action or a real-life thing. This thing then has a knock-on effect and before you know it you are staring at a room full of actors with a script, musicians and director staging a presentation on a West End stage (or off West End in our case!).  When the idea first popped into my head my partner looked at me quizzically and said “But why would you write a musical? Sounds like a really hard thing to do.”

I had a chat with someone else – a pop star who had achieved fame and success in his career. I asked him if he had a strong sense that what he and his band were doing “on the way up” would lead to success. He said that in hindsight if he knew how long and how hard the road to success would be, he never would have started. I found this interesting.

Life has a habit of shielding you from the degrees of difficulty that lie ahead on the way to achieving your goals. It’s a bit like playing a game; I’m like “hey I’ve finished level 5 things must get easier now”. What happens however is you are armed to the teeth with weapons, extra lives, first aid kits, magic potions but what you don’t know is that things are going to get even harder and you are going to use each and every resource you gained on your way to level 5 to get to level 6 and it’s going to be by the skin of your teeth.

What I love though is hindsight. If you just keep looking forward you only see where you are and it’s easy to feel like you are not getting anywhere. If you take a moment and bung a flag in the ground when you’ve achieved something (however small) you can then look back and see all the markers. It feels really nice and gives you a boost of energy to keep moving forward and taking those next steps. I have learned over time to look around and take notice at where I am rather than just keeping my head down, pushing hard to get to the end (wherever that may be). The details in the journey (and I know that this is nothing new), make the whole process richer.

I have had lots of ideas in my life that turned into things and all of them started with a small first step. It’s the first step actually that feels the hardest as in my experience that’s when you get the fear. My fear sounds like this:

What if I don’t succeed?

What if I make a total prat of myself?

What if what I make is rubbish?

What if I sound really stupid?

What if I am wasting my time?

What if I fail?

What if I don’t have enough money?

What if nobody cares or listens?

What if I am just not good enough?

The list goes on and on. Being stubborn certainly has its place here. I am so stubborn that in spite of all of these doubts I crack on regardless as the stubborn part of me wants to get it done and has a toddler tantrum desire to finish stuff.

Take for example the massive plot of overgrown scrubland at the end of our garden. It was so bad that you couldn’t walk on the area, there was a rubbish heap, old bits of carpet, broken toys, glass, barbed wire, tarpaulin covered in moss and a huge and unruly bush that was having a whale of a time spreading out and enjoying the space. It had been on my mind for a while to clear the area and I had no clue how much work it would take. This having no clue was actually really useful in that I just started to do it. I used the wrong tools at first using some comedy shears to clip back a bush the size of the Amazon and it took ages but as I went along I kinda found my groove. Again, my partner said to me “Do you have any clue how much work this is going to be and do you have a plan?”. No, I did not. My plan was to make a start and keep clearing it until it was clear. The rest worked its way out as I went along. And I am not gonna lie there were days when I ached all over and felt like it was two steps forward and three steps back. If I looked too far ahead all I could see was the scrubland that was yet to be cleared. If I looked at the little plot I had cleared, I felt a sense of achievement and kept going.

For some ideas, you need a plan sure. For others just cracking on and taking that first step is all you need. It could start with something seemingly small – sending that email, creating a Facebook page, making a logo, updating your CV or something bigger like handing in your notice, moving out, ditching your friends.

If you have a big goal (like making a musical!) I would say that breaking it into small chunks with realistic timescales really helps. If the plan is unfolding rather than being premeditated then it is going to feel like you have lost your way at times. Also, the information or contacts and resources that you need never look like you think they will. That’s why taking stock, stopping and looking around at where you are is so important – just so you don’t miss anything.

Having an idea and acting on it is a powerful thing but it can feel lonely at times. If you are the one with the vision you might have to go it alone working hard late into the night with no audience or anyone really caring about what you are doing. It’s hard when you know that if you don’t push on then nothing will happen and the whole thing could fall apart – and who would care if it did? You would. I try and spring clean my mind and thoughts and keep a few things in check. My inner dialogue can rage at times and can beat me into submission. I am also reactive, over sensitive and can be a total nightmare to work with. I can overanalyse and make everything personal. I hold onto things and don’t find it easy to let them go and to trust others to cherish and nurture my ideas like I do. But I am telling you, you cannot accomplish big things by yourself. You need others around you for support as when times get tough you are going to be on the phone to these people sobbing your heart out (I speak from experience).











The Smoother Ride

I am enjoying watching other people’s lives unfold. It’s nice to see from an outside perspective how a career can appear to be slowing down, in a drought with no clear path forward and suddenly BOOM! A great job comes in. Everything changes – at least for the duration of that job, and suddenly things are back on track (wherever that track may appear to lead).

It’s a key driving force for performers in the theatre industry – you never know what’s around the corner, and it’s true to a degree. I am growing tired of living life like this however. Is “what’s around the corner” any better truly, than what exists now? It’s nice to feel that you are getting somewhere – but where is somewhere? Can you ever be anywhere but here? (Thanks JRB)

That said, it’s a thing of beauty when someone you know who has worked, grafted and struggled, suddenly has a career shaping moment – they get THE JOB. The sense of relief is not only financial, but life affirming. I am in the system, I have value and worth, I belong in the industry. The industry wants and values me. I EXIST.

When we got our first round of Arts Council funding last year, I had this moment. I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I was almost sick. It felt as if I was given a big gift and the tide had come in for once. I’m not gonna lie, I really needed this to happen. My celebratory mood was quickly replaced however by the fear of going into the unknown (loved Frozen II), and then panic at how to make our budget and plans a reality. It didn’t last long, and low and behold the mundane crept back in. It’s the mundane that now interests me and I want to feel better “in between” jobs. I don’t want the highs to be as high and I don’t want the lows to be so low.

Take me back to my twenties and I would had said that this was a boring way to live. I would have worried that I wasn’t edgy enough, I wasn’t damaged enough, I was living too comfortably and needed some drama to make good art. Feeling better about my everyday life makes me work better, be more efficient, and less reliant on outside elements to bring me happiness. I don’t think there is such a thing as a permanent state of happiness as it comes and goes like other emotions, but I do think that you can feel more alive and connected. I want to experience things on a deeper level. Does this mean that the big, life changing events mean less? Not necessarily. It just means that there is less of a rollercoaster. I don’t want to be bashed around back and forth anymore. I’ll take the smoother ride please.

Moving Forward

Moving Forward

4 years ago, I hit a wall. It’s the second time as an adult that this has happened to me, and both times it has felt insurmountable. I seemed to have lost all belief in myself and my abilities. I had a tiny glimmer of a spark, but it felt far away, distant and out of reach. I remember talking to a lady who does reiki and things like that, and she asked me what was holding me back? I couldn’t answer.

I was working in a teaching job at the time, I had been in for over a decade. This job came as a result of burnout from working in the city, running my own agency, “living the dream” and trying to convince myself that I could work in a high pressure marketing job. The jobs in the city were as a result of hitting the first wall with my music career, so I felt a million miles away from what I had originally embarked upon.

In this second wall hit, I was looking at friends and their successes, watching their lives coming together. It seemed that they had the answers and I didn’t – that they knew how the play the game and I was there flailing around, with no sense of direction. I felt numb but overwhelmed, and with no belief that my situation would change.

This small spark, that the reiki lady had helped me identify, kept glowing. I started to feel an urge to create, to make something, and instead of shutting this down, I tuned into it and began to write. I started slowly at first, dipping my toe in the water, feeling overwhelmed to stop, but I kept going. I played my partner (who is a songwriter / producer – no pressure!) one of my ideas, preparing to be crippled by searing insecurity by how shit it was, but instead I felt strangely centred and energised – still nervous, but like I was tapping into something good. I pushed on. Lots of ideas came and went – like bubbles forming and bursting, many of them were never finished. I was reminded of a song I wrote years ago, which I was never happy with but that I liked – a song called “In Your Eyes”. I still felt it had something, but didn’t know at the time of writing what it needed. Now I did. Finishing this song was really bloody hard however. I had no confidence in my ability to finish something, I doubted my choices – should I use this lyric? Should I change to this chord? Is this just embarrassingly awful? What is the point? But I carried on. My partner helped with one line that I was stuck on – even allowing his input was hard – did this mean that I couldn’t finish something on my own? Was I weak? Not talented? A joke? Seriously – the amount of negativity in my head was overwhelming. But, on I pushed. The songwriting continued and the song was finally finished.

Writers talk about the importance of finishing stuff – yes indeed. Finishing this song (even though it is being reworked again now), was super important and gave me confidence to continue writing. Knowing that I could finish something, that I still had the ability, that I wasn’t a total failure, was powerful and gave me just enough energy to keep moving forward.