“I’m not creative.”
“I can’t even begin to work on all these ideas I get.”
These statements have one thing in common.
They’re all totally false.
Like it or not. You ARE creative. You have no choice but to be creative. It’s your nature!
Yea yea yea. I know. It’s WAY uncool of me to point that out.
After all, if you’re really truly creative, then [gasp!] you might actually have to face the unknown and do something about it! Who wants that?
Some people spend years – decades even! – perfecting the art of stuffing down any and all creative impulses, convincing themselves of their lack of talent and ideas.
How do they do it?
Well, let me show you the way! I’ve been there a time or two. And here are seven of my Tried-and-True Ways to Stifle Your Creativity…
1 – Check your email first thing in the morning.
Every morning when you wake up, you have a choice. Do you want to set your day up so that you are a Creator? Or do you want to set it up so that you hit the ground running as a Reactor?
If you chose the latter, then Bravo! Perfect for stifling your creative impulses!
When you wake up and run to the computer first thing, you shut off your deep creative voices as they come to the surface. You tell them, “No no no! We’ll have none of that! This is more important.”
And by THIS, you mean “Everyone Else’s Agenda.”
When you do that, you tell the Universe, “I’d rather just spend the day reacting, thank you.”
And the Universe says, “You got it.”
Letting the agendas of other people rule your day = great way to kill your creativity.
2 – Worry about results before you begin.
Oo. Now, THIS is a good one.
Spend lots of time obsessing about whether your final product – be it your speech, or your book, or your song, or your business idea – is any good. In fact, if you’re careful, you can burn up as much as 8 hours each day with this thought – all the while getting NOTHING done! Woo-hoo!
When I got the idea for my song, No Such Thing as Girls Like That, I lost a good two days listening to thoughts that said, “This is a lame idea. This topic has been beaten to death. Besides, you’ll never write a funny song well.”
I called my friend Kathy hoping that she would join me as I suffocated my creativity. I told her about my idea. Then I asked her if she agreed it was a bad idea.
Alas, she did not join in. She just sighed.
Then she said, “I’ll tell you what Christine. Why don’t you write it, and then we’ll decide if it’s good.”
An added warning on this one. Friends like Kathy will only try to trick you into actually doing the work! Make sure you don’t call them!
3 – Try to be perfect right from the start.
“Books are not written, they are re-written,” said Michael Crichton.
Don’t listen to him! What did he know anyway?
If you want to keep that creativity at a stand still, then believe this:
Books, songs, paintings, entrepreneurial ventures…
Their creators all get it right on the first try.
In fact, if you ask the creatives who read this blog, they’ll all tell you: Their art always comes out perfectly and fully formed the first time!
And if you can’t figure out how to get it perfect on the first try…
Then…well…there’s no hope.
Go eat some Cheetos and watch Sponge Bob.
4 – Worry about what people will think.
I’ve gotten loads of mileage out of this one.
In fact, allow me to tell you about a review I got a long time ago.
I got ripped apart. We’re talking BAD.
The critic was out for blood, telling her alternative rag readers that I had become the “Critic’s Darling” – but she was here to set the story straight. It was like my own private showing of Mean Girls.
That was years ago.
But even now, if I ever want to stop myself in my tracks and stay paralyzed for hours, I invite that reviewer into my songwriting session with me. “C’mon!” I say. “Tell me what you think of this verse! In fact, tell me what you think of me while you’re at it!”
Let ANYONE have a say about your wild creative side — I’m taking critics, friends, parents, siblings, mentors, bosses, co-workers –- and you’ve got yourself a life-long, sorority-sister, BFF relationship with Paralysis. I guarantee it!
5 – Require a Guarantee.
Sit down at your desk. (Or at your piano. Or in your studio.)
Roll up your sleeves.
Rub your hands together and say the following out loud:
“This had better be really good. In fact, this had better win a big huge award of some sort and make me really famous.”
6 – Struggle.
Like you need me to explain this one.
7 – Wait til you’re inspired.
Everyone knows how it works if you’re really truly for real creative:
And you wait some more.
You stare at clouds.
Maybe you even eat some bon-bons.
Out of nowhere, the “muse” comes to you. She takes your hand and leads you seductively to your desk. (She looks a lot like Liv Tyler in Lord of the Rings.)
Dreamily, you ask the muse what, oh what, should you write.
And she tells you. It is like taking dictation. And you know for sure that you are, indeed, one of the chosen few. The ones who are Creative.
That will surely happen if you wait…