I’ve wanted to tell stories since I was old enough to read, but like many people, as I grew up I learned to doubt myself. “You’ll never write anything good,” the voice in my head sneered, “and if by some miracle you ever manage to publish, you’ll be a joke.” It doesn’t say that anymore.
A few weeks ago, while working on my novel, I got stuck.
I’d come up with a story-within-my-story to explain my shapeshifters’ origins. It was interesting and clever, but it explained nothing. Also, the chronology was all messed up.
My struggles left me wondering if I was a fraud. Aren’t I supposed to be an expert on creative blocks? How could I be having one?
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” – Henry Ford.
“Believe in yourself, and you can do anything.” – Every Motivational Speaker Who Ever Lived. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found such quotes discouraging … Photo by Ryan McGuire.
Novelist Holly Lisle is no stranger to creative setbacks.
The worst came after she discovered her ex-husband was a child molester and she went on medication to deal with the resulting depression. “Prozac completely killed my ability to write,” she remembers. The publishing industry wasn’t particularly kind, either. Photo by Alextype, Adobe Stock.
A few months ago, David Sherry was stuck. The photographer and co-founder of Death to the Stock Photo says he felt like he was “making sequels instead of originals.” Photo courtesy of David Sherry.
A guest post by Celeste Lovick: “When you love someone, you cannot be afraid of them. The most important thing as a performer is not what the audience thinks of you. It is what you feel about your audience.” Photo by Seth Doyle.
“Lack of time” is a common excuse for avoiding creative projects.
While our schedules are often scapegoats for the real problem (crippling self-doubt), it’s also true that many of us are too tired and overwhelmed most of the time to do the work that calls to us most deeply.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
You know all those depressing articles about how men and women have such a terrible time these days because, geologically speaking, it’s only a heartbeat since we were cave people? Our fear of being creative is related to that. Photo by Victor Zastol’skiy, Adobe Stock.
My introduction to Manjula Selvam’s work came in the form of chaos on the front porch, where I found her folding fan after meticulous paper fan from old magazine pages.
A day or two later, I glimpsed her daughter prancing through her living room in a gorgeous silver ballgown sewn from old refrigerator insulation.
I’ve lost a lot of writing contests lately. Well, I didn’t lose them, exactly, but I definitely didn’t win anything. I’ve gotten a lot of plain old standard-issue rejection letters, too. It’s been a great opportunity to reflect on how my ego slithers into my creative work. Ultimately, the ego causes all my creative blocks, and probably yours too. It’s what tells me I’m a worthless human if people don’t like my writing, which is the thought underlying every other thought that stops me, thoughts like, But I can’t write until I’ve checked my email. It’s what tells me to write what’ll make me look good instead of what’s true. It’s what stops me from sharing what I’ve written. It pulls my attention to the reception of my work, and away from my real reasons for creating: to touch people, to make them laugh, to show them they’re not alone, to take them for awhile off their mental hamster wheels (we’ve all got them), and to give what I can. Still, I’ve made stuff and shared it. Luckily, we don’t have to lose …