"Rumpelstiltskin", by Henry Justice Ford.from Andrew Lang's The Blue Fairy Book, ca. 1889

Spinning Straw into Gold: Creating from Nothing

By Ellen Joy Johnson | Posted 4/9/09 | Updated 8/14/22

RumpelstiltskinWhen I was a child I remember hearing the story of Rumpelstiltskin, a fairy tale written by the Brothers Grimm. The gist of the story is that a young girl is forced to spin straw into gold for a king because of her bragging father.

Of course she cannot, but a small man, perhaps a gnome like character, tells her he will spin the straw if she gives him first a necklace, then her ring and finally her first born child. The young girl marries the King because of her supposed special talent, becomes a Queen, and eventually gets out of the situation of having to give up her first born by guessing the small man's name. And so the story goes.

I started thinking about "turning straw into gold" and what that means as a creative person. Often we feel as though we are working with straw or we have nothing to offer in our creative lives. That could symbolize a lack of ideas, tools, resources, or even emotional straw. So how do we spin our "straw" or creative energy into gold?

The spinning of the wheel in the story is fascinating. The symbolism of the wheel turning all night long, just as a potter spins the wheel or even a writer types a manuscript deep into the evening, indicates a tireless dedication to the creation. Rumpelstiltskin spins and toils all night long, relentlessly, because he wants the reward that he will receive. A reward or perhaps call it the motivation or inspiration to create bringing either emotional satisfaction, recognition, monetary reward, spiritual growth or whatever stimulates a person to be creative and deliver the goods.

So in order to "make the gold" we have to be inspired, have craft and do the work. Whether you are a visual artist, musician, dancer, writer, or entrepreneur you must know how to do your craft well enough to know how to spin the wheel, so to speak. Creativity is first inspired, then developed and finally earned. We cannot just have the desire to create something without the commitment to take all the necessary steps to complete the task. It is a daily routine that is cultivated through a process of showing up and being engaged.

Clearly it is in completing the task that we receive the reward. A reward that we find meaningful enough to sit in a room all night and spin our "gold" until the first rays of sunlight remind us of our exhilaration. So if this year you have the inspiration to be creative, in whatever medium, set an inspired goal for yourself and start spinning your own straw into gold!

5 Steps to Spinning Straw Into Gold

  1. Be Inspired: Stay open to the messages from your heart or notice what gets you excited and motivated enough to stay up all night to spin straw into gold.

  2. Make It Meaningful: When we place value on our activities we tend to make time for them and accomplish them. Find a reason to create, even if it's just to cheer someone up or give a special gift to a friend. The more meaningful the project is to you, the more emotional energy you will create around that project giving it a special mission for your life.

  3. Develop the Skills: Craftsmanship brings us a sense of integrity and quality to our creations. The more skillful you become the better you can express what you want to say through your creation. You don't have to be perfect to create but striving for a higher level of development in your medium is challenging and motivational.

  4. Show Up and Do The Work: It's great to have an idea or a desire to create but ultimately you just have to understand that unless you make time for your creative endeavor it is only a dream and not a reality. Set realistic goals and do the work it takes to see the results. So often we complain that we just don't have the time but it simply requires showing up for a short amount of time each day and doing a little spinning. Eventually you will have a room full of gold.

  5. Receive the Rewards: The perfect balance of giving and receiving holds true to the creative process. Acknowledging your creation whether through a solitary celebration and personal sense of fulfillment or with an audience of thousands is an important part of the completion of the creative process. End

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Ellen Joy Johnson Ellen Joy Johnson has been inspiring people for many years to express their dreams. ...