Guilt-Free Creativity

October 9, 2012 § 6 Comments

So you may have noticed that this blog about writing hasn’t really been so much about writing lately. It’s become more of a blog about reading, hasn’t it?

Yes, it has.

The problem is, I haven’t been writing anything except book reviews. When I’m not writing, I don’t much feel like writing about writing; I feel like a fraud.

I’m not sure why I haven’t been writing — or, at least, I wasn’t sure until a few minutes ago. I’ve got the idea for a great science fiction space opera trilogy 90% written in my head (well, okay, maybe 50%), but when I sit down to type it up, nothing comes out.

Ditto with a short story that I’ve got the bones for written down, beginning to end, but I can’t flesh it out more than that. Nothing comes.

So what happened a few minutes ago that opened my eyes to my problem? I read an article called “Guilt-Free Creativity: Stop Kicking Yourself & Start Producing.” Particularly, it was this part:

Guilt That You Are Progressing Too Slowly

The Challenge: Once you have the time to focus on your creative pursuits, you may discover that you completely underestimated how long it would take you to make progress. Your grandiose visions of writing the next great American novel deflate to hopes of completing a few short stories. Or your desire to create a website that makes your designer friends drool diminishes to a hope that you’ll launch a site where all the hyperlinks function.

The Solution: Just because you have what you consider loads of time, doesn’t mean that you can get everything done at once. It took Michelangelo four years to paint the Sistine Chapel and some of the world’s greatest buildings took hundreds of years to construct. Instead of getting discouraged, record what actions you do on a daily and weekly basis and celebrate what you did accomplish. Also, try to find ways to get a sense of completion faster, such as publishing an excerpt of your book as an article, exhibiting the first painting in something that will become a series, or giving a presentation on your findings so far.

Is guilt holding you back, or have you overcome it? Tell me how you beat it, because I really need to get writing again.

 

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§ 6 Responses to Guilt-Free Creativity

  • annaldavis says:

    I am currently having writer’s block as well. Not fun! Today I made myself write for 15 minutes, set a timer and everything. Forced myself not to nit-pick every sentence, just got it down. Will probably edit it all away next month. But that’s how I’m coping — by making myself write for small chunks of time. And the guilt? I don’t yet have a solution for that one. Except that when the writer’s block subsides, it will give me yet another emotion to pour into my writing.

    Thanks for a great post, it really resonates with me right now!

    • Thanks, Anna! I’ve recently started using a 30-minute timer to focus on my writing, with the idea that at the end of each 30 minutes, I can have a “reward” of some kind — check Twitter, get a soda, etc. I read another article that gave me this idea, but it’s not working great so far.

      I hope you bust your block soon!

  • Lauren Magee says:

    For me, the only thing that trumps guilt is a deadline. And yeah, I also spend far too much time fighting myself on productivity. During NaNo, the thing that helps the most is public writing. If I can’t go home til I’ve written X amount of words, it’s really good motivation. Or if I really want to watch a TV show or play 30 minutes of video games or something. I don’t let myself do it until I’ve reached the day’s goal. The downside of that is it can be even more stressful because you don’t get to relax as much as you might need. So yeah, I haven’t really figured it out, either, I just try to play mental tricks on myself, and that doesn’t always work out so well…

    • Deadlines — real deadlines, not self-imposed ones — used to work for me like a dream. Now, however, I have a real deadline for the short story and it’s still not flowing. As I mentioned to Anna above, I’ve started trying the timer and reward thing recently, and while it works sometime, it’s not consistent yet. I think I just need to train my brain for it.

  • gonz says:

    It’s not guilt, so much as laziness.

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