One of my favorite phrases is that “words are wands” — meaning that what we write down and speak aloud regarding ourselves has the potential to become truth. The more empowering stories we tell, the more we can create our ideal reality.
We can strike this balance when we ask ourselves how we feel and then put those thoughts into action. The best way to do that? Write it down and give yourself a blueprint to work from.
Art movements have long been using manifestos to declare their aesthetic goals and highlight their departures from their predecessors. The manifesto announces itself to the world as a bold step in a new direction. It inspires you to take action rather than sit idly by, waiting for inspiration to strike.
Last year, I wrote out a bunch of things that I truly believe and what I do to uphold those beliefs. I arranged these statements into a “manifesto,” which I wrote in my day planner. This way, I could refer back to my beliefs at any time to ensure that I am acting in alignment with my purpose. Some statements I chose were:
- “I believe in living my most creative and magical life.”
- “I believe in working with passion and purpose to follow my dreams in pursuit of fulfillment.”
- “I believe in continually growing and bettering myself through a sense of curiosity and a desire to learn.”
- “I believe that my self care is firmly linked to my physical and mental health.”
- “I believe in practicing love and kindness.”
I found it useful to write down what I actually believe. This was my personal compass in 2020 and beyond. Any time I wondered if I was headed in the right direction — creatively, professionally, or otherwise — I would review my manifesto.
So how did I do? In 2020, I ran my own creative business full time, created and consistently wrote for a project on Patreon, earned a certificate in content strategy and took a bunch of online courses, finished a draft of the novel I started in 2019, participated in (and won) NaNoWriMo, and restarted my long-abandoned yoga practice (thanks, Yoga With Adriene!). Each of these activities fell into areas I identified in my manifesto, such as creativity, curiosity, hard work, and self care. Further, in a year like 2020, focusing on creativity and self care helped me get through some truly challenging times.
Writing a Creative Manifesto
Want to get clear on your beliefs and declare the mark you want to leave on the world? Try writing your personal or creative manifesto. I see writing a creative manifesto as a radical declaration of your own creative power — whether your creativity is your lifestyle or your livelihood. (Or both!)
You can approach your own manifesto any way you choose, such as writing “I believe…” as many times as you need and then filling in the blanks is one way to do so. You can also substitute “believe” for what you know, feel, think, do, appreciate, give, practice, etc. Aim the statement at your creativity, or speak more broadly about your views on the world.
To get started, you might take some inspiration from the manifestos of various artistic movements as well. The goals of the art manifesto are first to define or criticize a particular trend or paradigm and then to develop statements that run counter to the old ways. Many of these are available to read online. Therefore, you might begin your manifesto defining what you don’t do or believe, or ideas that you reject. From there, build it back up with more positive statements about your intentions for your creativity.
Play with form. Your manifesto can even be a simple numbered or bulleted list. You can write it as a dialogue or Q&A if it helps you get your thoughts out. André Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto includes poetry made from newspaper cutouts and examples of absurdist humor. In short, anything goes.
A manifesto doesn’t have to be very long. Artist Jeff Koons, whose MasterClass I’m currently watching, had created a short manifesto in the 1980s: “To be forever free in the power, glory, spirituality, and romance liberated in the mainstream, criticality gone.” He describes this as a “rallying cry” for artists to use the tools of art to communicate with people. So if you’re having trouble writing something detailed, think of what one message you want to convey and distill it down to a single sentence.
A “Fill-in-the-Blank” Creative Manifesto
I developed a template to help me organize my thoughts and write about my creative beliefs. Here’s a list to get you started:
- I reject…
- I do not…
- And I refuse to…
- Because I believe…
- I know…
- I feel…
- And I believe…
- I feel…
- I know…
- I am…
Writing out what you believe and know for sure can clue you in to the wisdom you hold and the world you have created for yourself. So go ahead and put something down on the page. You may surprise yourself with the answers you’ve had inside you all along.
I decided to revisit this exercise for this post and have developed a new manifesto for myself focused on my creativity. Here is mine:
Manifesto for Creative Magic
I reject the idea that creativity is only for the select few.
I do not think that only some of us are born creative.
And I refuse to believe that we’re all in competition with each other when the world has room for all of our gifts.
Because I believe creation is our natural state.
I know that I can make anything that I put my mind to.
I feel most alive when I’m making something.
And I believe that we can all create the art we want to make and lives we want to live.
I feel that my creations can change the world because others’ creations have changed me.
I know that art makes the world a better place, and we can all contribute to that cause.
I am an artist, and my mission is to bring creative magic to the world.
When you’ve finished your manifesto, write it down or print it out and place it somewhere you’ll see it often — your day planner, the bathroom mirror, your desk, a wall, or wherever you please.
Are you living your most creative life?
The Muse Manifesto is a digital magazine for anyone daring to live a creative life. The inaugural Winter 2022 issue is centered around making the new year your boldest and most creative year. It includes nearly 70 pages of reflection exercises, rituals, and new routines to implement in 2022.