Be creative, or don’t be.

Being creative is the greatest challenge I know of. Everything else in my life has been easy by comparison. My ability to perform well, even (or especially) under stressful conditions, has helped. Writing, however, is a solipsistic activity – the only voices present are those inside my head: the fierce critic (a perfectionist), the exuberant child (wants to play), the arrogant lad (everything is trite). To round all of them (and plenty of other characters) up and form a performing team is difficult.

What can you do when you are in the same situation – you want to create, you have the ability, but you feel blocked by perfectionism, by goals that seem mutually exclusive etc.?

Here is a little advice:

(1) make the block into the subject of your creative endeavour. If you cannot write, write about that.

(2) use your other skills that don’t seem to have anything to do with creativity, to do the job: e.g. I like to perform – instead of writing, I dictate, then I transcribe. When I create, I imagine myself standing in front of a crowd.

(3) keep the inner critic occupied by playing music or by running the TV in the background.

Here is a beautiful summary from a creative writing book by Marge Piercy and Ira Wood:

“I believe the barriers to creativity are both inner and outer. The distinction between madness and sanity is one made by those around us: they honor us or they commit us. An act that brings admiration in one society will get you locked up in another.”

If you have never read a Marge Piercy book, this is the time to pick one up. I recommend “He, She & It”.

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