I’m writing about this because one of the biggest, baddest monsters under the bed of most creative writers is the desire to please others. One of the most inspiration-crushing reflexes of the artist is to analyze and judge everything that comes out of us. We hold our very first sentence, nay, our very first thought, up to the light of social scrutiny and say “this’ll never do. Throw it to the dogs.” There goes yet another unborn idea.
Some of you may think the voice in your head that tells you what you’re in the process of writing is…well…not good… is actually your voice. I beg to differ, though of course I do often get caught in that trap as well.
Let me explain. We live in a social order that is built around competition, where success is equal to being “better” than others. This is encouraged by the current education system and the entire industrial-capitalist model. It is inevitable that the majority of us have learned to constantly compare ourselves to others. Sometimes this programming goes so far as to make us hope for others failure and cringe at their successes because it makes us feel somehow “less.” Believe me; I know what I’m talking about. Going further back, we also know in some primal corner of our souls, that to not be loved is a recipe for exile and death.
This may sound extreme, but think about it. It’s as basic as needing our mothers in order to survive for the first couple years of our lives. If our mothers don’t love us, or if our communities don’t accept us, what are we to do? Those of us with tumultuous family histories may very well have entrenched abandonment issues that feed a deep-seated fear of not being lovable enough for anyone, ever. Unstable childhood environments lead to unstable interior terrain, whatever way we may have found of coping with it over time.
This little exploration into human psychology is simply aimed at helping us see that there are many reasons why we might tend to constantly judge and censor ourselves. We are under non-stop pressure, both internal and external, to PRODUCE something that people will like. Of course, some work best under pressure. If that’s the case, then any writing blocks you may have could probably be solved by having someone to hold you accountable and some regular, demanding deadlines.
For others, pressure is a creativity killer. If that’s the case, maybe you want to read all this again! And again. And again.
De-Fragging your Heart-drive
Basically what I have found in my life as a songwriter and poet and in discussion with other writers is that the main thing blocking our creativity is…ourselves. Only not ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I shy away from identifying %100 with the “me” who thinks nothing I do is good enough. Seriously. There’s something to be said for quality control, but the filter only really needs to come on once you’re choosing what to present to a wider public. If you can’t accept all the aspects of yourself that need expression, or even your personal creation process, who’s going to? Maybe your mom. Maybe your partner. You are still going to have to live with yourself more often than anyone else.
There’s a whole lot of “letting go” that needs to happen for you to be the creator you truly are. And don’t expect it to be a permanent cleanup. You will need to do some regular upkeep. As sensitive, receptive people we are vulnerable to a lot of “cultural viruses”. There’s a lot of unnecessary noise out there, a huge amount of “pollution” bombarding our senses every day. Be aware. You may not be able to avoid it all, but at the very least notice. Someone once said “recognition is the first step to liberation.” There are a lot of elements influencing our ability to let our creativity flow. I’ve listed some of the things that may be at play, but there are surely others as well.
Take the time to really survey your inner landscape before telling yourself you are doomed, devoid of talent and inspiration and that your attempts at creation are a waste of bloody time. When you are honest with yourself…what comes up? What knots can be undone so you can get a little slack to work with?
Above all…how can you get closer to expressing some of your fundamental truths? How can you let your heart sing, loud enough for others to hear it through your words…?