Everyone has a passion. You know, that one (or two) thing that get us so excited that we want to do it all the time. It doesn’t have to be something classical. It can be unique. For example, a friend of mine loves clothes. Shopping for them, styling them, selling them. The smell, the feel. Just everything about them. That’s her passion.
As you can probably tell, my passion is writing and I’ve been doing it since I was maybe 8 years old. I love it. When the muse is good to me and ideas are nearly bursting out from me, it’s a dream to write. The words practically pour from my fingers. On those days, I can write for hours and hours non-stop. My muscles are stiff and aching, my eyes blur slightly from staring at the screen for ages. And yet, I write on. And then, when it’s dark or when the sun comes up (if I write at night), I realize that I’ve written nearly ten pages. On those days, it’s pretty awesome to be a writer.
Unfortunately, those days are few and far between. Most days have me sluggishly dragging myself to my laptop and torturing myself with a blank page while the critic in me disparages me for ever having thought I could actually write. Usually, there’s a lot of head banging, cringing, self-loathing, sometimes crying involved.
This is what goes on in my head as I read through my current W-I-P:
Oh God, this is terrible. Did I really just win the record for most cliché sentences in a single paragraph? How did I ever think I could do this? I’m such a horrible writer…. Head banging-head banging- head banging… What am I doing? I should just quit…
And for one dark second, I seriously consider it.
For some of you, this dark moment might come while in front of yet another empty canvas after discarding several others in an attempt to create a unique art piece. Or keeping with my previous example, when faced with a difficult clothes combo to work out.
I know a lot of people who have quit doing what they loved, even quit writing, because they were unable to make it out of this dark hour. And so, I thought I’d share some tips on how to not give into the temptation to quit. How to create through the pain.
Pause and take a moment to recall the reasons you began doing what you do. Why exactly do you love to write? Or Draw? Or shop?
For me, the answer is in the flood of warmth that fills me whenever I read a good story. This warmth is what I hope to spark in some other shy, gangly, awkward teen tucked away in boarding school with no other joys.
Also, recall the good days. The days that are good. Remember the feeling and keep it with you.
Every person should have one. Whether it’s a folder on your laptop or a physical diary or box, every creative should have a place where there are quotes, articles, pictures selected specifically because they represent something about your passion that excites you. This folder is for these dark days, to keep you moving forward.
In my folder, I have quotes from my favorite authors, book covers, screen shots of their websites and book lists, comments about their writing process, advice from them etc. Whenever I’m feeling uninspired, I just look through this folder, through the words of my role models. And I think to myself. I want to be among these guys someday. I can do this.
Hearing about the way the gurus in our different fields started up can help us realize that even those successful today stumbled and struggled at first. They had been where you are. They had scaled through their own dark moments and are now reaping the fruits of their perseverance.
In addition to reading about how my favorite authors started out, I always look out for their debut novels. Because I can nearly always see that their writing improves and evolves with each book. It takes some of the pressure off.
I can’t describe the feeling when someone seems to just get it, even if it is as simple as commenting ‘totally relate” to my tweet about the writer’s life on twitter. It reminds me that I’m not alone, that I’m not special. It basically says:
You think you’re a shitty writer? Well, you and a billion other writers. Stop whining! Get back to work.
So join a community. Find your people. Facebook groups are a great place to start.
Realize that nothing good, no great successful career, no literary giant (or any variation of this) was made in a day. Or even a week. Hell, it probably took many many years.
So ease up on yourself. You don’t have to write the great American novel or create a painting to rival Picasso’s Mona Lisa.
With time, you’ll definitely get there so for now, just focus on finishing your current project. You’ll see that when you stop putting pressure on yourself, great work just happens!
What do you guys think? What other ways do you guys use to come out of a creative funk? Comment comment comment!!!
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