Staying Positive When Creating

If you’re a writer, or an artist, a musician… really anyone in any role in life will come to a point where they realize, “I’m just no good.” My girlfriend occasionally has to talk me down, usually around nine o’clock at night, when somehow a night of drawing or painting, or even simply attempting to learn a technique has not met my expectations.

In these moments, everything is very hopeless. I feel cornered, untalented. There’s a self-loathing, a medicated feeling of clarity that casts the world in a gray lens. It’s been there as a writer, on a second draft with a conclusion that just doesn’t seem compelling. My ability to create, to express myself through my art is vital to my self-assessment. I’ve spent very many years broke, eating only what was needed, doing without I could and modifying my life to need less. There is very little I need.

But to go to bed at night and feel capable, to feel like I’m learning or meeting my expectations, is essential to my well-being. You may feel the same.

What most people don’t realize, what I didn’t realize for a very long time, is that is not reflective of skill. It’s not reflective of accomplishment. In fact, it’s not really reflective of anything. This moment, that each of us face, disguises itself as legitimate self-awareness. That moment tells a truth we think we’ve always known. But it’s a fiction. A darker fiction than anything else, because it seems to overlap seamlessly with what really is.

But there is no more truth to these moments than there is to the ravenous feelings of hunger. Just as we’re each met with phase that changes out priorities and our focus, as it worsens and says we will never be full or never have enough, doubt parallels hunger. And like hunger, doubt will pass.

Unlike hunger, doubt passes best when you don’t engage it. I don’t mean that kind of doubt that appears logically, that says “this may not be right for my character” or “this color scheme doesn’t pop the way it should. I mean the kind of doubt that speaks in absolutes, that pretends to be all-knowing, “you have no…” “you are not…” “you will never…”. It’s a monster that knows when you lock eyes with it that it has you and won’t let you go. If you indulge these thoughts they’ll enter your cognitive processes, they’ll infect your reasoning.

And you won’t be a slave or servant of truth, as we should each seek to be. You’ll be a prisoner of doubt. And there are many, many prisoners of doubt.

There world is populated with people of tremendous ability, inspiration, potential, who bury it in undiscovered darkness because they’ve let doubt infect them. They believe they are momentary, just another second in humanity’s time on the planet. But they don’t need to be. You don’t need to be.

No matter what destruction doubt has wrought in your life, you can improve. It begins for some by recognizing that disparaging and heartless voice that tells you to give up or quit. Someone people struggle to differentiate between that and their normal thoughts. I’m 34 years old. Since I was a boy, since I was old enough to tell my dad stories instead of him reading a book to me at night, I’ve wanted to be creative professionally at night. And since there are so many dark periods in my life, times in which I was creating nothing, I believe I was long one of those people who can’t tell the doubt from everyday thoughts.

So how did I get out of that?

I’ve been sitting here asking myself that same question. It wasn’t until writing this that I was aware I’d even been lost in abyss. So to know myself how I escaped it… that would take a bit to put into the right words. Follow me and I’ll be sure think about it over the next few days and tell you.

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