Writing, then hating it, is normal. In his book Innovation on Demand Allen Fahden talks about the PEP cycle of creativity: Panic | Elation | Panic. It hits us all, and all you can do is wait it out and trust your processes and skills.
But when you can’t create, the solution is to refill the well. Spend time reading great books, listening to great music, watching quality movies that inspire you.
In her book Around the Writer’s Block Rosanne Bane describes the brain science behind play, and how spending time playing with no attachment to any creative outcome restores the creative circuits in our brain. Shaping clay, coloring pictures, playing a musical instrument just for fun.
Letting creative joy flow through you by taking it in and letting it flow out unhindered is the best way I know to fall in love with writing again. (And take a break from the work; don’t force it, you’ll struggle even longer.)
The group of mad songwriters I’m hanging with this month have a thread with 100+ posts about imposter syndrome.
Every artist who’s ever created something they feel strongly about has also felt like a fraud. Who am I to pretend to be an author? Who am I to pretend my songs are worth your trouble to spend 3 minutes listening?
John Lennon anguished about his lyrics. Stephen King is, to this day, ashamed of his subject matter, still smarting from a teacher’s disdain for the junk he wrote.
I have reached a point where I’m confident about my song lyrics, and getting there about my books. Every smart writer I trust has said they learn to ignore feedback except from very specific people in very specific ways. Not the 1-star haters on Amazon. Not their Best Beloved (though mine is my first audience, but her one and only job is to smile and pat me on the head; we both know her job doesn’t involve anything like honest criticism, that comes later.)
I don’t believe in the anguished lamenting artist who must bleed and die to create. We choose to do this. On some level we’re driven to it; I don’t think I’d be happy if I stopped writing novels. But no one makes me do it, and a lot of folks never feel the joy of publishing a book or performing a song they wrote. I get to make art, and I’m happy about it. It takes work, though, to focus on the positives when Imposter Syndrome and Resistance strike.
Next time you see someone doing something creative, whether it’s performing in public or just sketching a doodle in the park, thank them for daring. They can always use the boost.
I registered my first domain name in February of 1999. (It was spinhead.com, the one I use for my web design company and my primary email.) I’d already been designing websites for 4 years prior, and working with computers since I first went to work with my Dad sometime in 1976 or so.
For the past 20 years I’ve spent more and more time online.
And less and less time in the real world.
I’m trading the deceptive ease of online relationships for the messy complications of infinitely more satisfying connections in real life.
More time out in nature.
More time playing music.
More time with Best Beloved and our Little One.
More time sharing meals with friends. And taking my cooking from good cook to creative chef.
More time writing and studying the craft of writing, novels and music.
More time out in it and less time in my head.
Some Things to Note
If you know me in real life, you know how to get in touch. Do so, or wait till you see me later in the week.
Otherwise contact Sue (Sue@Spinhead.com or 715.296.0347) and she’ll know what to do.
Here’s what this is not about:
- Nothing is wrong. Honest.
- This is not a reaction, it’s an action. A choice based on deep thinking, meditation, and conversation with those I trust most.
- It’s not about you. You didn’t offend or hurt me. Not now, probably not ever.
- I’ll still be writing. A lot.
- I don’t know when, or if, I’ll resume my previous online shenanigans, meaning posting everywhere, emailing like a dervish, living in social media. But don’t hold your breath.
P.S. from Sue – I fully support Joel in this decision. As his Chief Social Media Officer however, you’ll note that I’ll be managing his social media accounts on his behalf. So if you see his tweets or posts on his Facebook Author page, that’s me behind the scenes. ;)
A handful of years ago we were regulars at open mic in a suburb of Sacramento. Some of the performers were excellent musicians and singers; real artists.
Some, not so much.
One night two young boys, the older probably 15 and the younger 10 or 11, came in with their electric guitars. They used a recorded rhythm section backing track and played along and sang.
From a purely musical perspective, they were not very good.
I had seen something, though.
Two weeks ago I wrote a post at my Someday Box blog which I’m inordinately proud of. My fans responded by making it the busiest day I’ve ever had at any blog in 11 years. By a factor of 3 — yes, one post tripled my best day ever.
And now, the following days of normal traffic look puny and sad.
When kids say something surprising and get a laugh, they do it again.
Seth posted a great list of questions every entrepreneur should ask themselves before they launch something. We’ve already launched years ago, but I went through the exercise of answering them anyway.
He warns against the danger of tweaking the answers (or the meaning of the questions) to suit our beliefs. If it looks like I’ve done that here, call me on it.
I want Someday Box to be the place you come to gain the belief that you, yes you, can write a book. If I’m not being honest with myself, that’s not honest with you.
Here they are:
Continue reading “Who Can We Change?”