Since releasing my book on August 1st, 2017, I’ve been struggling with two conflicting impulses: the desire to connect it with people it might help, and the desire to be still. Photo from the “Studio 1” collection, Death to the Stock Photo.
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 days before I returned to Canada after a 9-month trip through Albania, Greece, Nepal, India, Georgia, and England, I had a panic attack.
What if I’d never make a living as a writer? I’d have to go back to waitressing, and I’d probably end up serving all the people who hated me in high school. They’d snicker and complain about the food.
There’s a thing you want to make. It’s beautiful. It touches people. It makes life hurt a little less. It illuminates something, both for you and for your audience. It makes the world a smidgen better. From the deepest place inside you, this thing calls out for you to make it. Yet. Photo by vladsogodel, Adobe Stock
Artists are often solitary creatures, but without connections to other creatives, we risk drowning in our own mental swamps. Photo: “EXOTIC”, © everettovrk, Adobe Stock.
Before I left Vancouver, I took lessons in exotic and lyrical pole dance several times a week for fun and fitness. When I first saw people doing moves like “fallen angel” (in which a dancer hangs upside down from the pole with one leg, no hands), I thought, Uh-uh. No way. I’ll smoosh my skull like a watermelon. Photo: “Pole dancing instructor working”, © AntonioDiaz, Adobe Stock.
I’ve done a lot of procrastinating in my life. I’ve also done a lot of getting over it and getting my shit done. Here are 7 of the most effective ways I’ve found to stop futzing around and do what matters.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: often, when I sit down to write, I feel like a squirmy toddler getting stuffed into a car seat.
Heck, I felt that way while starting to write this very post, before I reviewed the list I’ll show you in a minute. I thought, No one’s going to like this. It’s a dumb idea. I should write about something else. I’m just stealing from other, smarter people.
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 …
Sometimes, the more you think about what you’re getting into, the harder getting into it becomes.