Before writing this post, I have washed hundreds of dishes, watched hundreds of TV and YouTube shows, took dozens of baths, and kept my little apartment sparkling clean at mostly all times. Summing it all up, procrastination. I have been procrastinating at a level which I didn’t even know was possible. Because we’re not talking here about postponing something for a couple of days or even weeks, but months. And we’re not talking about procrastinating on something that’s seen as irrelevant (like school exams – just kidding), but something that I have as a dear dream: to write and express myself.
So what has been keeping me from kick-starting the creative process?
The answer isn’t simple. There are many layers to it. Bur first and foremost…
Fear: the greatest force of resistance
The most evident of all is fear. I have been, simply put, afraid of what could happen if I would sit to write. I could find myself out of words, I could see that my words are useless, and I could face the consequences of having my words out there in the world. The judgment or others who would read my words and create an image of me from what they read. But if I ask myself “who are these people I’m afraid of disappointing?”, I find that they’re mostly people that 1) I don’t even care about, 2) don’t really care about me either. So, why on earth bother?!
Those who I actually admire and who also care for me in any way, I know that those will only look the effort behind the writing, without judgment. So, why not instead focus on those who actually care and matter?
Writing as self-discovering and keeping promises alive
On Steven Pressfield’s latest book (The Artist’s Journey), he talks about the creative process of writing as a (the process of putting your hand out and back and rediscovering who you are), and this resistance to sit down and write might well be a reflection of my fear of encountering myself at this moment in time. Uninspired, and perhaps even ashamed that I might have become a Conformed Procrastinator.
Even worse. Every time that I have found the courage to start creating, writing and reaching out, I have fallen on a pattern of promising something I’d be doing in the future, most likely as a form of self-reminder or self-forcefulness, but all I have ended up with was the emptiness of a broken promise, to others and, perhaps even more shamefully, to myself.
Okay, but here I am. Moving forward.
What can I learn from this?
Well, most evidently to stop making promises I don’t know for sure I can keep.
I don’t see myself I someone who can’t keep a promise, so the fact I keep making and breaking them when it comes to creative endeavours brings me down on a very deep level, time after time. It’s a destructive little pattern that needs to be replaced.
Lower the standards
This is something I have been experiencing throughout my whole creative journey. It’s important to be okay with whatever results we get from the efforts of creation. The reward really is in the creation and not in the recognition. Plus, one does not live without the other. For the first recognition on gets from anything one creates is the feeling of self-accomplishment. And that feeling is the one that matters the most, the most worthy of all.
Sweat it until you get it
Discipline, discipline, discipline. And I need to say it 3 times because I actually struggle with it. (And 3 in an enchanted number.) I’m too taken away by the delights of the world and easily distracted by the moments and the thoughts and daydreaming about the limitless possibilities that life gives, which ends up taking space from disciplinary ambitious. And those discipline rituals I have, like meditating or yoga, seem to produce an effect of “enoughness”.
But the simple act of sitting to write is not painful in itself, it’s that I have not created a habit out of it, and therefore my brain tells me “what are you trying to do here?”. Unless I make it into a habit, it will not come easy, and there will be much greater forces of resistance, pulling me to not do it.
Embrace creation in whatever form it is
Let go of format expectations. This is something I have been feeling quite restrictive, as well. The idea that whenever I find the courage to sit (figuratively or descriptively), I’ll have to do something in a perfect form to help me achieve my objectives. This is highly restrictive. Not that having a format for guidance isn’t a good thing. But it certainly isn’t helpful when you’re not even finding the courage to start. You don’t want to be forced into a perfect shape. You want to let what is be, and bring it to live in its own original form, whatever that might turn out to be.
Start with the doing and the making (writing, playing, dancing, painting), leave the editing for later.
Analysis paralysis – the famous infamous
Enough of information and learning. I can easily say I’m a learning addict. It’s one of the most pleasurable things I find to do in life – to learn new things. So it’s easy to fall on the trap of learning some more to feel “more ready”. But the truth is that day never comes. We’ll never be/or feel ready enough. “Analysis paralysis”, they say? Well, to me, it can even be an “inspiration paralysis”, as contradictory as it can sound. If I feel inspired to start something (because I’m afraid, like we have seen before), I’m more likely to say, “let me just see this one more video, or read this one more book, so that I’ll feel more inspired – so I’ll do the right thing when I do something”. What a counterproductive habit!
That tiny step forward
Just start. I have found this to be the most powerful motion in the universe. When you start, you’re not only setting a firm intention inwardly, but you’re also “saying out loud”: “here I am, I’m serious about this, and I’m doing my part.” Any helping forces out there, they tend to see this and get to work. As Elisabeth Gilbert told us on this talk. When the intention is only in the mind it’s not clear enough; we need to speak louder – through actions!
Phew, and there, I did it. The first of… no! I’m not going to promise anything this time.
Who knows when I’ll have the courage to sit write again. Or make a video, or create even just create a post on social media.
For now, I can only say, this felt good. Really good. And that’s something to remember.
You can’t use up creativity, the more you use the more you have – Maya Angelou