I call them the Hooglie-Booglies.

These are the voices that shout in your head when you have a creative urge or an actual project to begin. The hooglie-booglies are loud. They appear real. You might even become convinced they’re the truth.

However, it’s important to see them for what they are:

Procrastination and fear.

That’s all.

Here are the six most common symptoms that might keep you from taking action on your creative ideas and projects:

1 – “Who do you think you are?”

This is the voice of every cynic who has ever crossed your path.

It’s the mean girls glaring at you through eyes caked with eye-liner as you walk by their lockers.

It’s your older brother laughing at your new hobby.

It’s your former boss, a mean-spirited review, or just your own inner critic.

No matter what images from your past have collided to form this life-like voice in your head, it’s time to talk back.

How do you do that?

Answer the question!

Who do you think you are?

You might be surprised at how quickly that voice diminishes when you come up with an answer.

2 – I’ll wait til I quit my job. Then I’ll have lots more time to…”

Other versions of this voice include, “I’ll wait until I’m more courageous before I…”

And,

“I’ll save up X amount of dollars and then I’ll…”

As my best friend used to say when we were kids: “Bull puckey!”

The problem with waiting for great big empty blocks of time is that most likely you haven’t learned to wisely use the small chunks of time you already have. So when (or, more appropriately, “IF”) those great big blocks ever come, then you’ll most likely have one great big panic attack.

The problem with waiting for a more courageous version of yourself is that courage comes from being courageous. If your game plan involves a larger, more heroic version of yourself to just happen, then it’s time to revise the plan.

The problem with waiting for more money is that this game that can’t be won. There’s never enough money to convince you that you’re finally safe, and it’s okay to begin that new direction or project.

If it’s something worth doing, then do it now. Learn to work within the life you have right now.

3 – “I’ll never be the best so why bother?”

One great reason to begin a creative project is that you’ll always come face to face with your neediness and your ego voices. If you can forge on and keep on creating, you realize how pointless these voices are. This is the beginning of wisdom. And it’s fun to become wise to your own ego.

Besides, there is no best. And if there is, it’s certainly no reason to not begin. There’s always someone who’s making more money, getting better publicity, getting better at her craft. The only person you need to measure up against is you.

An audience member asked Julia Cameron this question: “What do you do with the voice that says, “I’ll never be the best, so why bother?” Julia Cameron paused. Then she said into the microphone, “I get out of bed very quickly.”

4 – “Everyone will discover I’m a fraud.”

You have to be the one to decide that you’re not a fraud. And you have to be the one to decide that this voice is nothing more than an angry relic from the past that doesn’t want you to try something new or create something that might be beautiful. No one is out there waiting for you to fail!

And besides, who is “everyone,” anyway?

5 – “But wait! I’m not perfect yet!”

The gift of getting over this voice is that you might begin to relish how imperfectly you can do something. Giving yourself permission to do things badly is a great gift. Perfectionism is healed by taking action imperfectly, and surviving.

6 – “I need to process all of my feelings of unworthiness and doubt first.”

There will be times when you’ll sit down with every intention to do your work. It will be quiet. You might feel empty. Even lonely.

Furtively, doubt will creep in. Then, a few other shabbily dressed characters will follow. These are the ones that like to tag along with doubt wherever she goes. They’re an insidious bunch. They’ll wait conspicuously, clearing their throats and shuffling their feet. Eventually, they’ll convince you that you need to set everything aside and let them have their say.

Here’s the thing –

If you just keep doing your work – even if you do it badly – the next day, there will be fewer voices. This time, they won’t hang around as long. After several days of doing this, you won’t even think about them. They’ll give up on you once they realize you won’t pay attention. When you focus on them and give them attention, then they grow bigger – especially when they realize they can make you stop in your tracks. You’ve given them all the power.

Always remember this: Energy flows where attention goes. If you stop giving your attention to these voices (and all of these symptoms), your attention will move to your creativity. And that, I assure you, is much more exciting!

p.s. Quick Note: There are two spaces available for the Great Big Dreams retreat (March 14 – 16). Email christine@christinekane.com if you’re a last-minute kind of gal (or a P on the Myers-Briggs!) and you’d like more information!

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36 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • thegrapesofrap

    yes i do!
    because i’ve suffered from all 6 this week.
    i’m so glad i came across this old post. it was everything i needed to hear.
    the other thing that helps the ego voices seem smaller is when you realize that everyone has almost the exact same ones.

  • Shama Hyder

    Hi Christine,

    All you have to do is go to feedblitz.com and setup an account. They will give you the code to put it, so people can subscribe using their email. It’s very simple, and I would really LOVE to read your posts in my email.

    Thank you!!!!

  • Vince

    Yep!

    I’m guilty on all six counts!!!

  • Michelle Vandepas

    I love this post.. When I’m noticing those thoughts in my head I I keep coming back to this…:
    I’m living my Divine Purpose for me. That by following my next steps I’m doing it for me. By helping others in the world, I’m doing it for me. It is my passion and my work in the world…. My following my path my heart opens up and lives fully. It is my path…

    Staying in the process that it is my hearts desire and my path keeps my voices at bay as I’m not trying to live up to others expectations or feel I’m not good enough.

  • Christine Kane

    hi shama — i don’t know how that works! i think i have to set up that kind of subscription. right now, all i have is the RSS feed — which shows new posts on your google homepage. (or whichever home page you use.) i’ll look into the email feed subscription. thanks!

    thanks everyone for your great thoughts – and for helping each other along the way. I had a busy week and weekend – so it’s great to see you responding to each other!

  • Shama Hyder

    Great post Christine!

    One question- How can I subscribe to your blog through email?

  • TheGirlWhoCriedEpiphany

    Thanks so much for this. I think I am (finally) almost ready to go out and “waste” some money on art supplies. For years I have told myself that I am just a writer and there is no reason to waste my time doodling. But a little voice has been reminding me how much I used to love filling a page with color. Tomorrow, tomorrow I will go and find whatever crayons or brushes have my images trapped inside of them. Or maybe I should actually do it today…?

  • Dianna

    Hooglie, booglies – Oh, I recognize those guys, although I’ve been working very hard to shake them! I’ve made a courageous start, am shooting for 100 posts by March 7, 2008, my one year anniversary. I have two sites now or I should say – I have one and my dog, Riley, has one too. But the reason I write today is to invite you to pick up your “E” Excellent Award at my site when you get a chance. 8 other sites were lined up with you and you’re in very good company. Love your site. Hope you can visit. http://dwmindsieve.blogspot.com

    SS

  • Elena

    Christine,

    Thank you for your post. I recently became engaged and was offered the chance to stay home to spend the last few kid years w/ my 10 yr old. I have gone through every feeling of doubt, loss of self-worth, etc. But this post, along with the one on courage and loss of title, have made me realize that while I’m beating myself up mentally, I’m missing the chance to know my son and find myself. Thank you. Wish me luck – I’ll be quitting as soon as we find a house.

  • Susie Monday

    And then there is the oh so practical Hooglie Booglie who says quite loudly, ” My dear, it would be so much better if you cleaned the studio/did the laundry/balanced your checkbook/checked your email/ finished the sweater you started knitting in 1982 even though you hate knitting…

  • Anne Leuck Feldhaus

    Christine, I gave the “You Make My Day Award” on my blog…check it out on your next virtual escape. You are such a wise soul. I can’t tell you how much your words resonate with and help me. Warm Wishes!

  • sue

    I think the scariest part of this post is that once you (I) realize that these things are soooo true, I can’t pretend I’m not aware of them anymore! Yikes! Thanks for this!

  • BarbV

    Christine,
    What a great post! I ran up against all these things when I decided I wanted to start alittle t-shirt business. I can say that your previous post about imperfection really changed the way I look at things. Now I’m not scared to put ideas and designs out there that before I might not have done.
    Thanks for your inspiration through your words and music. I share you all the time with the people that mean the most to me.

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts and insights. I’ve had a busy two days on the road. (A Creativity Training yesterday and a performance last night. And another performance tonight.) Anna – I think someone else picked up that book by accident! I don’t have it! (I’ll go get it though. I’ve heard great things from many people.) Nneka – It was so great to meet you and to have you in the audience – I love your laugh!

  • Heather

    Holy crap, how did you get inside my head?! (oh you already answered that in the comments above, universal hooglie booglies)

    I really had no idea that thinking oneself a fraud was so common. I keep waiting for someone to give me a certificate or degree that says “Now you can be/do this!” so I can feel authorized for it, but I’m starting to get that I’M the one who hands out the certificates. Maybe now that I know that I can also know that I don’t need one at all…

  • Nneka | Spirituality Blog

    Hi Christine, I just came from your concert at Bett’s and I’m listening to your CD. This is exactly what I needed to read as I haven’t written in about 3 weeks and I’ve been missing it.

    It was a real joy to meet you tonight.

    Fellow pop slut,
    Nneka

  • Anna Garrett

    A little off topic, but “Same Kind of Different as Me” is an awesome story if you haven’t read it! I gave it to a number of friends for Christmas. And I left my copy with Christine at the Oct. retreat. Very powerful!

  • James Vela

    Christine,
    i loved your post, Though i struggle as often as anyone to overcome these, petty forms of what i like to call self-intimidation. I have found your work to be quite inspiring. So much so that i am not going to spell check this. I often don’t write to people because of my lack of spellability. Darn lysdexia. I have begun writing and demo recording some songs that i have wanted to write for a long time but becuse of the old voices could not manage to get started. last summer i finally decided that even if no one is going to polish up a Grammy, i should still go ahead and follow my heart. (negative self talk aside)You affirmation is just the shot in the arm i needed today. THANK YOU!!!

  • Meg T.

    Hi Christine,
    I read your blog all the time. I’m a songwriter who kept many aspects of my music career on hold while raising my kids, and now that I have more time for writing and performing I’m coming face to face with all my fears, procrastination, and negative thought patterns.

    Reading your posts, and all of your wonderful readers’ comments, reminds me that I’m not the only one dealing with these things, and there are no limitations except for the limitations I’ve made for myself. So thank you!!!

  • Kate Robertson

    I’ve just given you the Make my day award. You can see it on my blog http://katespin.blogspot.com

    Kate

  • DebMc

    Good post. I’ve been procrastinating a bunch lately. Many of those hooglie-booglies have been hiding in the dark recesses of my spirit. Thanks for chasing them into the light.

  • Diane

    Lovely post Christine! I was speaking with the author of “Same Kind of Different as Me.” on Tuesday. If you’re not familiar with the book it is a true miraculous story…about a successful art dealer who befriends a homeless man..and a quick read too. Anyway, I shared just a bit of my journey and he said, “you should write a book.” When my husband and I were in marriage counseling the therapist suggested our lives would make a great screen play. Maybe they are on to something! My first thought was “But I have ADD.” The short blocks of time and only concentrating on one thing helps. Anyone else have any tips besides drugs? I know lots of creative people have ADD. Thanks!

  • Linda

    I just sent off a book I write to an editor and the whole time I am telling myself that I am a fraud, that no one will ever read it if it should get published, etc. There was just an article in the NYTimes about feeling like a fraud-amazing at how many of us do.

  • Michelle

    OK – So here is what I hated about your post. It completly crushed my illusion that my suffering was original and unique to me. All of the points you posted above relate to me. I am working at starting my own business in a creative field. Well, I have started, but now have to do the work for the clients that are starting to show up. AND I am dealing with some physical healing issues. I have been letting the little voice of my ego tell me “who am I to be powerful enough to heal myself” “who am I to hear guidance from my angels and guides telling me exactly what it is I need to do to claim this power, this power to create and heal that is available to each and every one of us”.

    I really did let my ego convice me that my suffering was unique and tonight, what you have done, is beyond any shadow of any doubt, prove to me that I was wrong. Gee Thanks.

    Another illusion shattered.

    I may just have to get busy healing now. 🙂

  • eileen

    http://www.storyofstuff.com/
    I thought you might find this web-site interesting. It’s not about procrastination, but it might inspire a blog topic for you to share with all of your readers. Hope all is well with you!!

  • Kelsey

    This was well-timed for me as I am noticing the looming deadline on a local writing contest I swore I’d finally enter this year. I know it is big old fear in sheep’s clothing keeping me from the work of it. I need to remind myself that there is nothing to be lost in trying!

  • kyra

    Wow! Great post. Most important point for me are using the small blocks of time and realizing that people aren’t waiting for me to fail. Definitely true. Loved the post. Thanks!

  • Christine Kane

    thanks deborah and caryn!

    deb – haven’t looked at your journal, no. these are just those universal everyone-gets-em-at-some-point kind of hooglie booglies!

    sylvia c – I don’t know where i heard that. i think it’s just one of those little Law of Attraction sayings that sticks cuz it’s got a sing-songy quality!

  • Christine Kane

    chloe – that would be normal. I’ve found that it’s best for me on a writing day if I already have something started – so that I’m looking forward to the project itself. (rather than just sitting down with nothing.) so maybe on saturday and sunday you can take an hour each day and call it “idea time.” then you’ll look forward to that monday all-day session…??

    mimi – doing something creative instead of watching oprah — that one hour each day will make a HUGE difference after a week or two. Try it. Really! and to answer your question — that’s the kind of thing I do. I fit it in to the small chunks of time I have. And I’ve been opted to only choose select performance dates so I’m not on the road as much!

    djuro – glad to be holding the torch for you! and i have been lucky to have people hold the torch for me. That’s why we’re all here, I believe!

  • Sylvia C.

    I loved this:
    “Energy flows where attention goes.”

    I’ve heard it before, in a different string of words, but this really sings to me.

    Thanks!

    Sylvia C.

  • Deb

    So you’ve started reading my journal, huh?

  • Caryn

    When those inner voices begin talking, I try to drown them out–by writing (which is my creative outlet). It usually works, if I’m determined.

  • Deborah

    Thanks, I needed that! My SIL and i are trying to start a business and *my* biggest problems are all on that list. I need to keep this article handy.

  • djuro

    Wow. These were ALL here?

    I actually recognize them all. And you come here, name them all and – well, I will surely be more aware of them now! Guess they cannot stay if I look them in the eye (yeah, they only have one) and say “Hello there. I know who you are. I know you are not me. And I know how to create just the environment you cannot exist in. So Hasta la Vista, baby!”

    Sometimes Christine, while reading your posts, I envision you running into the very problem I’m stuck in, holding a big lightning torch and lighting up all that I couldn’t see.
    Thank you for that! Keep shining!

  • MindFul MiMi

    Christine,
    What a lovely post. And I fully agree with all your points. Still, that doesn’t make it easier 🙂 I have been wanting to start painting again (was busy being pregnant, giving birth and taking care of my now two sons…). But I keep procrastinating…. mmmh. Maybe this afternoon, instead of watching Oprah…
    Question to you: where do you find all the time to write posts, sing and perform, write song and music and still have no deep shadows under your eyes…?:-)

  • Chloe

    Ooh. I needed that.

    This week I took my full-time job down to four days a week so I can try and freelance one day a week. Monday was my first day as a freelance writer. I had every hooglie booglie on the list on Monday.