Category Archives: Motivation

In Which I Want To Be Creative But Don’t Do Creative Things

A few of you have noticed that I haven’t been blogging lately.  Thanks to those that have taken

asleep at the keyboard

When creative slumps attack

the time to say something.  I’m encouraged, knowing that I have some sort of audience.  It’s not that I don’t want to be creative, it’s just all of the hard work of DOING creative that gets in the way.

I guess you could say I’m in a bit of a creative slump.  I relate to Dan Harmon, creator of the sitcom “Community,” who recently blogged about the need for an outside stressor to motivate him in his creative writing pursuits:   ” . . . if nobody’s waiting to hear from you, why say anything, if you’re not saying anything, nobody’s listening, slipping you deeper and deeper into a creative coma.”

Dear reader, please don’t think I’m calling you “nobody” or dismissing you as not worth writing for.  It’s just that you don’t give me a paycheck.  You don’t fire me if I let a deadline slip a few days or months.  I’ve made myself the promise that “I’ll write a little something every day” countless times, but it’s just not working.  I always peter out.  Even though I dream of one day quitting my day job to write funny stuff professionally, I apparently don’t have enough internal motivation to take the small steps necessary to make that happen.

Interestingly, in some areas of my life, I have incredible willpower, and can just pull myself up by my bootstraps and make big changes without requiring external pressure.  Eating, for instance.  I’ve let myself go a few times, and have put on 20-30 extra pounds.  When I decide it’s time, I can instantly start eating better and shed the pounds at will.  I can resist desserts and high calorie temptations on my own without any special diet or food overlord.  Why don’t I have this kind of self-control when I comes to creative pursuits?

So, writers and creatives, I could use your input here.  What keeps you in the game?  What tricks have you learned to keep you on task?  So far the only ideas I’ve got are:

  1. Be a better person
  2. Quit my job and starve my family until I hit my stride and strike it rich as a sitcom writer

There!  I made it all the way to the end of a new post!  I shall reward myself with a cookie.

Distractions

One of my favorite author-bloggers, Kelly Barnhill recently wrote a great post about the antics of her son and his friends entitled If those boys would stand still for five minutes, they’d write a damn good novel.  Based on their conversations, I think I’d get along handsomely with these young men:  “Okay, fine. We all speak fluent Wolf.”  “Toe jam is just the nice way of saying toe poop. No one likes to believe that their toes can poop, but they do all the time.“  “We have to stop Dr. Nimblenuts and his atomic EXPLODING ANTS!”  If I could only capture that kind of wild creativity in my own writing!

But it wasn’t so much the boys’ dialogue that struck me as much as Kelly’s summary question, “What’s distracting you from your writing today?”  My answer came quickly, as I’ve been in a distractible state lately.  Like Kelly, I have been enjoying the distractions, so I’m reluctant to move on and do the work that I know I need to do.  I have the goal of writing a sample sitcom script, and I’ve been “researching.”  I’ve read how-to books and articles, watched (too?) many sitcom episodes for inspiration, listened to several hours of Ben Blacker’s Nerdist Writers Panel podcast, downloaded script writing software, read scripts from Community, 30 Rock, and Parks and Recreation – everything but write my own sitcom script.  All of these activities are important and justifiable, but they’re all ancillary, and it’s time for me to buck up, face my fears, and start writing that script!

I’ll close with the same question Kelly asked, but slightly broader.  What’s distracting you from your goals today?  What excuses are you making to yourself?  Are you stuck in preparation mode, afraid to take the next steps?

Overcoming fear of rejection by communicating desires

No Sale

When living in Detroit in the mid-nineties, we had a very strange experience with a door-to-door salesman.  We opened the door, and there stood a VERY enthusiastic young man with a bottle of citrus spray cleaner and a rag.  He animatedly (including some dance moves) jumped into his presentation:  “I have this amazing new cleaner that will clean anything! Let me show you!”  He proceeded to spray and wipe dirty surfaces within arm’s reach – our front door, a window, the corroded metal hand railing, and even my shoes.  He showed us that his cleaner was non-toxic by spraying some in his mouth.  He interjected his pitch with plenty of finger snaps, winks, high fives, and entertaining gimmickry. And you know what?  The stuff worked!  We probably would have bought a bottle, but when it came time to wrap up his pitch, he just smiled wide and said “Well, thanks for your time!  Have a nice day!”  He never asked for the sale!  He just danced his way to the next house on the block, fingers snapping to the tune in his head.

We stood there, semi-stunned, wondering if we had narrowly escaped a porch mugging.  More than likely, though, despite his confident exterior, he just lacked the nerve to commit and ask for the sale.  Maybe he was afraid of rejection.  Maybe he wanted us to beg him to come back.  I don’t know.  He didn’t follow through, and he lost the sale.

Speak Up

Speak up and overcome your fear of rejection

Speak up!

I still struggle with communicating my desires.  I assume the people around me, especially those closest to me, will be able to read my mind, or know me well enough to know what I want without me having to actually say it.  I’m often afraid that speaking my mind will lead to rejection, humiliation, or some form of demotion. This mentality can lead to some really damaging thoughts:  “Nobody understands me. Things will never change. I’m stuck in this situation, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ll just mope about until the skies part and drop opportunity in my lap.”  Like the spray cleaner salesman, I dance around and hint about my inner desires, but rarely truly express them in a way that lets people know I’m serious about making a change.

Are you keeping your desires and passions squashed down deep inside?  Is the “real you” ready to burst out, but only if the right moment presents itself?   If you’re serious about changing your circumstances, get serious about saying so.  Don’t let your fear of rejection keep you from speaking up.