Two words that keep me creatively sane


Do you ever get overwhelmed by your own enthusiasm? One day, I am the most excited person in the world, ready to conquer my writing dreams and make things happen. I am convinced that these feelings are my default setting. So you can imagine my surprise when the next day, or a few hours later, my only desire in the world is to get my pajamas on and watch Portlandia for hours on end. Me, like to write? Nah. You’ve got the wrong girl.

Mainly, my internal dialogue becomes a viscous monologue against my current state of apathy. “And you thought you thought you were a hard worker. You thought you would actually work toward your goals. And now look at you basking on the couch without a care in the world for writing or being creative in any way.”

Do you do that to yourself? There is a fine line between knowing when to make yourself work harder, and when to take a break. Perhaps not every break I take is justified, but there is something I tell myself to keep these negative thoughts at bay.

colors and words

Whenever I come down from one of my mental highs, and am utterly convinced that I will never, ever be passionate about my goals again, I give myself a mental break.

I say to myself, “Okay, you are right. You are not a writer. You are not creative. Your dreams are all a farce. You are delusional and everybody else is better at doing things than you. But just for right now.”

 I agree with my pitiful thoughts, and I accept myself for not being a creative or motivated person, with a disclaimer: “you are not a writer right now.” or, “you are not a motivated person right now.”

 It’s the “right now” that takes the edge off. It allows me to stop beating myself up–because a non-creative state that is fleeting is something I can deal with. Instead of feeling like I am avoiding things I should be doing, it teaches my mind to relax and cut myself some slack. I am not ruining my dreams by watching an episode of Mad Men instead of working on my blog. Instead, I am just not a creative person right now.


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You see, I used to argue with myself when I felt unmotivated and discouraged. I used to say to myself, “you ARE a writer! Don’t listen to these negative thoughts!” But the thing about self-pity is that it usually isn’t affected much by Pollyanna. I have finally come to realize that these mental highs and lows are a cycle of thought, and I will always, always, regain my mental high. And then go back to the low. But denying the low points only makes me feel more sorry for myself. Trying to talk my way out of self-pity is, to me, just one more reminder that I am failing at something. So instead, I accept my current state of emotions. I don’t beat myself up for them.

The strange thing about accepting the lows along with the highs, is that the high usually returns a lot faster than I expect it to. I don’t know why I don’t always feel motivated. I have a finite mind and some things, like the workings of my fluctuating inner dialogue, will always remain mysterious to me. But once I acknowledge them as mysteries, acceptance becomes a lot easier.

Do you relate to this? Do you beat yourself up? Do you have highs and lows, creatively? Are you easier on others than you are yourself?


P.S. How to kill creativity and The Problem with perfectionism

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