Tell me if this sounds familiar? You sit down to write and you stare at your computer and think to yourself, “Shit, I have nothing to say.”
Like many people, I began to write because I had something to say.
However, as time passes, and writing for fun turns to habit, more times than not, I sit down and start writing, and hope the creative process wins. Some days it does. Most days it doesn’t.
There is loads of truth to the words of Charles Bukowski, “Find what you love and let it kill you.”
I am not a professional writer, but over the last year or so, despite not knowing what I was doing, I started to write, and immediately learned what I had to say, some people wanted to hear.
The first comment I wrote online became part of Stephen Pressfield’s blog on how to pitch your product. The first article I wrote got picked up by Fast Company, and shared by INC. I had the same luck with a handful of other publications I liked. Most importantly, I got on the radar of a few people I had previously admired only from afar.
Life was sunshine and rainbows, then reality hit.
Writing about a few key past experiences and the lesson I learned came easy. However, writing for the sake of writing is hard.
This early recognition was both a blessing and a curse. Sure it was nice to be noticed and learning I had a talent, where I thought none existed, did a world of good for my confidence in a few areas. But writing consistently over the last year has taught me I was not nearly as creative as I thought.
Over the last fifteen months I have never had more doubts about myself, and this is exactly why I know I am only at the beginning stages of being creative — because it hurts.
The only part of the creative process that runs consistent is doubt.
When speaking about the reality of making art, and the pain that comes with making it, Artist Christoph Niemann said, “We measure ourselves against a lucky moment. And this is really painful.”
We do something great and we are expected to do it again. But it is hard to repeat success, and even worse, when it comes to creative endeavours, we know we cannot repeat it.
When making art, your next work is rarely your best work. In fact, for anyone that creates anything, we know this is the furthest thing from the truth and constantly think our best work is behind us.
Nothing ever magical happened by planning to create magic.
So How Do “Creatives” Keep Making Magic?:
When I began writing, I read every book I could about the process of the current and past greats. I learned a great deal. But at the end of the day, the conclusion I came to in regards to the perfect writing process, is that it does not exist.
The perfect writing process is writing everyday.
The perfect writing process means staring at a blank page and having the faith a lucky moment will take place.
Athletes practice everyday.
The best salesmen make their calls everyday.
The best musicians pick up their instrument everyday.
Same goes for writers and anyone pursuing creative work.
You have to start again — everyday. Again, again, again.
You sit down with a handful of thoughts running through your head and with each written word one path becomes clearer than the others. You recognize it, and you continue. However, just because you found momentum does not mean it will be any good.
Making a point is hard.
Cutting everything that is not essential is hard.
Leaving in the parts that open you and scare you because being vulnerable is the part that best connects is hard.
But that is what “work” is, and I have learned that “working” is the only way to take off the pressure put on by others and the pressure we put on ourselves.
It is not about hoping inspiration will strike.
It is about sitting down and starting.
Starting everyday is what gives amazing a chance, and this is the best a creative can do, give amazing a chance, everyday.
“Inspiration is for amateurs. Us professionals we just go to work in the morning.” — Chuck Close
The desire to be original is overrated:
Like anyone who creates, I want to be original.
I want to say, make or write something that nobody has ever heard, seen or read.
But over the last year I have learned the dangers of trying to plan to say, make or write something original.
Creativity does not mix very well with plans. Planning is not how creativity works. And it is certainly not how art connects.
The best writing, the best ideas, the best speakers, share experiences that relate to other human beings.
The best art, the best ideas, the best writing takes something people are familiar with and either simplifies it, or adds onto the conversation, exposing something others have not heard, seen or read before.
This is all innovation is in 2018.
This is all art ever was — drawing someone in with something that feels familiar to them and evoking a feeling or emotion that was not there a minute before.
I do not know about you, but I find comfort in this. I have spent too many days trying to be creative, I forgot the most important ingredients — learning from others, mixing it with me, and allowing my curiosity and fingers to fly.
It does not mean it will be magical.
But it does give magic a chance.
An hour ago I had nothing to say.
“Do what you love and let it kill you.”