Does this ever happen to you? You drive yourself mad, getting in your own damn way?
There is SO much to block a creative labour of love and I’m calling myself out on this one; dobbing myself in. Because the truth is, I could be a lot further ahead with making this exhibition happen.
Blocking your own path is the absolute worst. A disguise for ‘learning’ and ‘researching’ and ‘gathering inspiration’ is nothing short of stalling.
I’m working on that…
In reality, I’ve been working on getting out my own way for an excruciatingly long time.
Why is it so hard?
It’s a thing
Listen to Chase Jarvis, who’s not only had his own phenomenal career as a creative, he’s met and interviewed many others too ― the best of the best, and it’s clear we stallers are nothing but a cliché.
Creative projects are buried down the back of the sofa and crumpled up in the recycling bin or lost in the folds of a duvet all the time. Everyday life lifts us up like a Coke can in a high wind and carries us on a turbulent journey to nowhere. In a flash, we’re dropped back down to earth with a clatter, no further forward in our quest.
I know I can avoid that pointless ride. People like Chase do it all the time, now they’ve learnt how to brace against the threat. They can put up a windbreaker faster than Lewis Hamilton’s F1 team can change a tyre, and they’re back on track.
The thing is, a pit crew might change hundreds or thousands of tyres in the lead up to a race. They’re pros at this. They get stronger and better at their task all the time until their team know they can depend on them, and they can depend on themselves. It’s no different for creatives.
It’s not easy, but it’s totally doable. You can create something from nothing. Yet here I am… paused.
I could read more books or blog posts, follow more creative leaders, or go on a course, but that leads me back to the same stagnant position. Right now at this moment, that’s not what’s needed.
I’ve made a commitment to follow my own path on this one.
The goal is to birth something that’s truly mine; every last bit of it, in an expression of what I have to offer the world ― we all have something. Finding a way to push through everything that stands in my way is hard. Like going up against a heavy iron door that’s rusted over and covered in cobwebs.
I’m gonna need some tools to help me blast through it.
Forming better habits
In the spirit of working openly and honestly, I’ll share some of my methods for getting over myself IN SPITE of myself. Can’t say I’ve mastered them ― yet, but it’s part of the challenge, and I will.
When I take a break from this project for a few days, maybe a week; sometimes more, it always ends with an epiphany. The very thing I was trying so hard to see suddenly turns up in my mind, completely unannounced, coursing through my grey matter like fireworks silently exploding. I’ve learnt it’s all going on in there, whether I’m aware of it or not. Sometimes, you just need to give ideas a little room to breathe, so they can find their way out and you can recognise and work with them and mould them into what you need.
I signed myself up to abseil down a 95ft building and it was the ‘don’t think’ mentality that got me over the edge. Rather than spend weeks fretting about whether or not the rope would fail and I’d fall to my death, I got on with my life and didn’t give the mounting anxiety any room to back me into a corner and out of the charity challenge. So I parked the fear and only let it out when I got to the top, checking my rope was secure, making sure I listened to what to do ― the things that truly matter. And I did. And it was over. Barely any sleep was lost. Who knew?!
There are people I’ve followed for years for inspiration ― on and off, but even so, you come to know whose advice you can trust or whose musings seem to gel. But the thing is, for an adventurous, creative mind, all the learnings get a little addictive. You need a pick me up one day and there’s your old pal with a pearl of wisdom. You’re all up in the face of a blog post, then their newsletter, then social posts and, before you know it, an hour is lost, never to be returned. Once I’ve got the nub of what I need, I deliberately curb it. Cut it off. Look within <— the truth lies there.
- Deep down, I already know in my own gut what needs to happen next
- Overthinking my plan isn’t going to make it any better or worse
- Nobody else can tell me what I should do or how I should do it
I already know.
It’s all there, I just have to get it out.
And if I can get out of my own way, I can make a proper start on actually getting to where I want to be.
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”Zig Ziglar
Image created using Midjourney