A stuck creative

For me, being creative can sometimes feel trying. There are days when I don’t want to do anything. There are days when I think I’m not good enough. There are days when I worry about my work being seen. And there are days when all three of these emotions make me feel like Atlas.

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”

— Erich Fromm

I know I’m not the only creative who struggles with this–these problems that ring true for any creative. It’s oft called the “creative struggle.” Some people’s chests swell with pride as they talk about this struggle–as if it’s more important than results. What’s confusing, seductive and dangerous about this struggle, is that it’s an excuse wearing a disguise. It’s nothing to be proud of–the “struggle” exists to stifle, choke, and suffocate you into inaction.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and I can’t help but wonder where these negative thoughts and internal resistance comes from. I’m pretty sure that a lot of it was fed to me as a child–by my parents, my teachers, and society-at-large. But as an adult, I can’t really use that as an excuse for my creative struggle. I’m the one in control of my present and future, not the people from my past or old stories I’m choosing to cling to. To believe otherwise would send me down a very, very deep mental rabbit hole.

So yesterday, instead of pulling an Alice, I decided to pull out a pen and notebook, and wrote down all of the blockers to my creativity. It’s not complete, but it’s a reminder to myself to acknowledge my bullshit excuses whenever I’m in a so-called “creative drought.”

Imperfection

The pursuit of perfection is fruitless. If I constantly seek for perfection, I’ll never find it and I’ll always give up.

Letting go of perfection gives me the space to discover new opportunities and ideas that would otherwise be lost in obsession with perfection.

Self-Doubt

I often feel doubt about my skills, doubt about how I’m perceived, doubt about who I am as a person.

Regardless of whether or not I believe I am “good enough,” if I push beyond my self-doubt and simply create as much as I can, I’ll inevitably grow and improve my skills.

Noise

This is the noise that routinely whispers shit things to me, like “you’re no good”, “this could be better,” and “who do you think you are?”

The noise is loud and frightening. But I’ll embrace the noise because the louder it gets, the closer I know I am to unleashing my creativity.

Discomfort

I hate being uncomfortable. When I’m creating, I’m often uncomfortable. Why? Because I’m being pushed to my edge of growth. Finding peace with discomfort allows me to become a better creative.

These excuses prevent any creative from reaching their highest, creative potential. I hope that by sharing this, it sparks a sense of self-awareness so that you, too, can recognize your excuses and toss them aside.

The point is to acknowledge the hesitation, the fears, the doubts and create anyway. So what the hell are you waiting for? Go forth and create something.