Most people live in tiny little boxes of fear. In our culture it’s hard not to get sucked into it. The news and the media tell us that things are bad, very bad. And they’re only going to get worse. When we feel the crawling little ravenous mouth of fear inside our own gut, we are more likely to pay attention to the voices of anxiety and agitation surrounding us. Fear feeds on fear. It needs more and more of it to keep going.
When you live in constant fear, life seems very hard. Events appear to be unfair and against you. People give the impression of having threatening agendas. Your own power seems diminished. Hidden.
I’m currently reading Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. One of the main characters loves woodcarving. When he stumbles across a bump of wood on a tree, he can see into the wood. He can see the shape in the wood that wants to be released, and the only way to release it is for him to let go into the creative zone and carve it out. He talks about how he stopped woodcarving when he was a kid because his older brother always made fun of him. His older brother was afraid that he might beat him at something, or be better than him in some way. It’s not until he enters that magic world of the Dark Tower that he begins to find his creative power again.
It’s the same with your writing, with your vision of a life that is truly fulfilling. You can already see it through the murkiness of present circumstances, in those moments when your perspective is colored by love and possibility. But it’s up to you to release the shape of your dream into a reality that you can touch and feel. And in order to release it, you have to let go.
When you begin to shift things for the better in your own life, in your own personal pursuit of creativity, other people are going to be threatened. Some people will show it immediately. They might make fun of you, like our hero’s older brother mentioned above, or they might play the skeptic and make sarcastic inquiries into what it is you exactly think you’re doing. Others will show up when you hit your first bump in the road and plant the seeds of self-doubt. Whatever form these people take, they will all have the same objective. The creative, beautiful, difficult thing you are doing is making them very, very nervous and they want you to stop doing it right now.
It’s making them nervous because it’s making them think about their own life, and their own dreams. And that feels really uncomfortable.
You can get caught up in the fear of these naysayers, and start to really doubt yourself and give up. That’s the first monster to slay. The second temptation is to react against them. You might spend one whole afternoon writing a long email arguing with someone about why you want to do what you’re doing. Or you might waste a morning binging on the bad news from around the globe, indulging in your own feelings of superiority as you find reasons that everyone else is doing it wrong. Judgment, hatred, cynicism, panic, and believing yourself to be a victim are all different faces of the same monster, the Killer of Creativity.
And while your resources are fractured and divided into dealing with the dozen evil heads of the beast, the beast itself is still concentrating on its one and only goal.
To get you to stop doing the creative, beautiful, difficult thing you’re doing.
If you take time out of your life to deal with the monster every time it rears a different ugly head, who do you think is going to win this contest?
The only way past the monster is through your vision. You must pass it all by, the judgment, hatred, cynicism, panic, the victims who want you to believe yourself a victim too. Pass them all by and forgive them their misperceptions.
Your mission is to continue doing the creative, beautiful, difficult thing you are doing. You must use your own creative vision to see the shape in the wood, and your own creative power to release it. Your true vision lies in your heart, waiting for you to wake it up. Your true voice is whispering to you all the time, it’s up to you to listen.
If my thoughts in this post resonated with you, you might be interested in these articles too:
Competition Is a Made Up Thing
How Your Grand Vision Is Holding You Back
Avoiding Roadblocks to Creativity: The EatSleepWrite Interview
Why It’s Better to Be a Dilettante
Creative Intensity Doesn’t Have to Be a Curse
What You Were Born to Do
The One Thing that Separates Great Writers from the Rest
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