Enemies of Creativity

The last week was a bit of a bust for me. Besides a couple of articles for Somebody Think Of The Children, I didn’t really write at all. Towards the end of the week even the morning pages became difficult. I would get to the end of the first of the three pages and I couldn’t bare to look at them any longer. Somehow I knew if I really put my inner thoughts on the page a whole lot of procrastination and inaction and doubt and shame would present itself. I mean it took me this long to decide I was a writer; can I really be a writer if I am not writing?

Eventually I did manage to push through the morning pages and the thing I came to realise was I am scared. I am scared that I can’t pull off my current project. I am scared that trying and falling flat on my face would somehow validate all my creative detractors from over the years. But, actually, on closer consideration I come to realise that my creative champions throughout my lifetime greatly outnumber my creative detractors – so why do they occupy so much mental real estate?

I’m trying to figure out some sort of workflow. It’s much more difficult than I anticipated. On the one hand if I spend all my time on Twitter, I don’t get much writing done. But if I avoid it entirely my sense of community is diminished, I feel removed from the world, I can’t bounce ideas off of people or offer and accept support. We’ve always had this sense that many creative pursuits, but particularly writing, were isolated solitary activities. And in some ways, they can be. But the Internet has been instrumental in connecting people with similar passions and building communities around those passions. I want to share and learn, but I also feel vulnerable. I have moments when I feel great doubt and share this, secretly hoping for someone to step in and say, “Don’t be silly. You are very talented” or something similar. Twitter is not the place for those moments. People are just as likely to further add to such doubts or use them as the basis of ongoing jokes.

I guess it is a question of balance, as with all things in life. I keep trying to convince myself that the effort will win out. In the meanwhile I hope working with the morning pages and The Artist’s Way exercises will help silence the creative jabs of the past.

3 comments… add one
  • I take comfort and inspiration from a few things I’ve read minutes after posting what appears above.

    Firstly Paul Dickinson writing for Stepcase Lifehack:

    Tell people (but be selective)

    Tell others about your goals. Tell the people that inspire you and will throw encouragement your way. The inspiring people in our lives will add to our momentum.

    And the always candid and inspirational, Mur Lafferty:

    Nearly everything I tell you not to do, I’m guilty of. That’s how I know it’s bad. When I get rejected, I’m positive my writing is utter crap and there’s a tiny little voice saying, “Maybe you should just quit.” When I get even constructive criticism that is meant to make the work better, part of me is crushed that it wasn’t perfect the first time out. I find it nigh impossible to write every day unless I’m faced with a deadline.

    Essentially I don’t want you to think I’ve conquered all of these things. I haven’t conquered a damn one of them. Which is why I continue to blog and podcast about them. This is a war that may be won some day, but for now all I see are battles. Someday perhaps I’ll have the thick skin needed to really charge ahead no matter what arrows hit me.

    How reassuring!

  • Distractions always hinder my creativity.

  • You are very talented, John. Just this blog proves it to me. I’ll be joining you in Morning Pages beginning tomorrow.

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