Being a Romantic
By Bryan Cohen
When I was growing up, I was a die-hard romantic. All I wanted throughout high school was a girlfriend whose hand I could hold as we kissed underneath a picturesque sunset. I dreamed of being a poet, a writer of eloquent fiction, and an actor of the screen and stage. I hoped that every project I was a part of would be some grand, amazing statement. It was this mindset, this desire to have a wonderful, but broad interpretation of everything, which held me back when I first started out as a creative person in the real world.
Caption: Bryan Cohen (in the chef hat) being a lush with his friends.
My belief about romanticism was that if you attempted to make beautiful things in this world that everything else would take care of itself. I thought that things like dirty dishes, bills, and other practical matters would dissolve under the weight of a gargantuan rainbow of sentimentality. My romantic nature carried me to Oxford and Wales, the south of France, and the top of a mountain in Israel. All of these experiences were amazing, but there was something missing.
I thought that these dreamy, passionate ideas were to blame and I put them off to the side. I became more withdrawn and impersonal. I started to assimilate into the “real world.” I tried to take my belief of magical phenomena and put them back into the fairy tales from which they came. After trying this for a couple of years, I realized that it was like attempting to take the white off the rice. I was a romantic person deep down but I needed to find a way to make it more practical.
Somewhere along the way, I realized that by appreciating only the big picture of things, I had been discriminating against the smaller things in life. I needed to find gratitude in some simple pleasures. Instead of simply dreaming of becoming a best-selling author, I needed to create a tiny celebration for each individual copy sold. As opposed to taking some expensive master comedy class from a living guru so that I could brag about it, I needed to be patient and to recognize the humor in an everyday situation. As an alternative to staying up all night to create something incredible but rushed, I needed to take months to add tiny brush strokes to make a calculated and refined tour de force.
I found that by appreciating everything from a small smiling glance to a credit card bill paid $1 over the minimum, I could maintain that romantic joy without missing out on a good portion of life. Every moment could be beautiful, not just the ostentatious ones. When I adopted this viewpoint, I was still not the person I envisioned myself being in my youth, but I began to feel more youthful and alive.
And then, as if it was a cue from up above saying, “Finally, you get it,” the bigger things started to go my way on an epic scale. People started coming to my website in droves and my book sales began to pick up. The amount of money I was making only rose slightly but it started to go much further each month. With my new attitude toward even small encounters with people, my relationships started to improve as well.
I had found a way to become a romantic not just about the big moments but about every moment. Sometimes we forget that we can make every part of the week an interesting and enjoyable one. Instead of blaming other people for problems in our day we can sympathize with them. Being caught in the rain can be like reliving a childhood memory of trying to dance between the raindrops. An issue at work or in your personal life can be a challenge to use your brain creatively to make the area even stronger than it was before. Finding joy in as many moments as I can has helped me to become a more effective writer and creative individual. I have a feeling that it could do the same for you as well.
Bryan Cohen is giving away 100 personalized writing prompts to one giveaway entrant chosen at random during the blog tour. Personalized prompts are story starters that cater specifically to a writer’s subject matter, strengths/weaknesses, etc. Cohen will create the prompts to cater exclusively to the winner. He is giving away free digital copies of his book The Writing Sampler to everybody who enters, which includes excerpts from each of his four books on writing. The book contains essays, writing prompts and tips and tricks to enhance your writing skills. In addition, for each of Cohen’s books that reach the Top 500 on Amazon during his blog tour, he will add a $50 Amazon gift card to the drawing (up to six $50 cards in total)!
To enter, simply post a comment to this blog post with your e-mail address. Entries will be counted through June 2nd, 2011.
Bryan Cohen is a writer, actor and comedian from Dresher, Pennsylvania. Since graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill he has written four books (1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More, 500 Writing Prompts for Kids: First Grade through Fifth Grade, Sharpening the Pencil: Essays on Writing, Motivation, and Enjoying your Life, and Writer on the Side: How to Write Your Book Around Your 9 to 5 Job), several plays (Something from Nothing and Chekhov Kegstand: A Dorm Room Dramedy in Two Acts) and he was the head writer for an un-produced Web series (Covenant Coffee). His writing and motivation website Build Creative Writing Ideas has had over 100,000 visitors since it was founded in December 2008. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Follow Bryan on Twitter @buildcwideas