Being creative can also really suck the big one. You have to perform. People are counting on you. Your work can’t be just okay, it has to be amazing.
Breathtaking. You compare yourself to others who have gone before you, to others who are out there now. And you think they’re better than you. They have more experience. They have more knowledge. They have more skill. So you hide in the shadows. You stall. Or you simply just stop.
Does that sound familiar? Did I just describe you?
When I started to write, the act of writing was the biggest thrill. Words poured out of me onto paper. I felt blessed. Empowered. I had no plan, no outline, no preconceived notion of characters or plot. I wrote. And when the stream of consciousness stopped, I stopped writing. Sometimes a day would pass. Sometimes two or three. Then the flow began again and I continued. I didn’t worry about how I was writing or what I was writing. I followed the internal command to write without question.
The problems started when I compared my stories to the books I read. My friends and family suggested more sex, less fantasy, stronger characters, different plots. Then I joined a critique group. I stopped writing from the heart and started criticizing every word. I lost momentum.
Instead of taking several months to write a novel, it took several years. There were long periods of darkness where I told my friends “I’m thinking about it.” And the thinking took over until I stopped writing at all.
Recovery was slow. Agonizing. Friends encouraged me to keep writing. My writing group hounded me about showing up with nothing. And after almost a year of “thinking” I finally began again.
It wasn’t easy. I’m a perfectionist and my own worst critic. I edit as I write. But I did it.
If you have the power to dream, you have the power to be.
I made a decision. I decided “I’m going to write.” I committed to writing my next novel. I committed to taking however long it takes.
I tried to write every day. Many days I failed. I “prefer” to write when I’m inspired. I love having the ideas, the scene, the dialogue in my head and rushing to find paper to get it all down. But that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes I had to face that blank page. I had to will myself to start.
Are you willing to make that decision? Are you willing to commit?
I had one of those AHA moments the other day. One of those realizations. I know that life presents opportunities to us for the purpose of learning. Every time we don’t learn means another opportunity. Sometimes those opportunities get pretty tiresome and annoying. I’m a slow learner so it takes a lot of repetition. This time I really “grokked” (remember that from Stranger in a Strange Land?) how afraid people are of the unknown. It terrifies me. I’d much rather spend my time thinking about all the things that “could” happen rather than finding out what actually “does” happen.
Do you feel that way too?
The unknown will always be out there. Your job is to focus on the present. This moment. Right now. Pick up your pen and write the first word. Sit at your computer and type. Whatever comes to mind.
Don’t let your fear prevent you from doing what you’re meant to do. Start now.
Are you writing?