How to Unleash Your Inner Creator and Finally Write The Book You’ve Always Wanted
I still remember the first real story I ever wrote.
I was seven or perhaps eight years old.
It was an adventure story emulating my favourite author at the time, Enid Blyton.
Back then, adventure stories helped me escape the confusing world that I experienced as a child.
My story was hardly literary, but it was my first experience of self-expression in words. I wrote down my wildest dreams and became lost in my imagination for days at a time. Through my first characters, I learned what it was to live the life I wished for and forget the reality of the life that I had.
When did you first start writing?
Every writer I have ever asked has always given the same reply. ‘I always have, ever since I was a child.’
So why is it so many people fail to live up to their dreams? As children, the muse runs through us unhindered. We are like an open book to the machinations of the collective creative forces. Something happens to the receptive mind as we are matured and changed by the influences of the real world.
There are many reasons why it becomes harder to trust in our divine creativity. Reasons we doubt ourselves, our work, and even the value of the craft itself. Many books have helped me on my journey to greater creativity and they will be listed later.
But first, I want to talk about how writer’s block seems to have hit every writer I have known at some point in their lives.
The struggle is real people.
Here are a few reasons why creative people struggle with creative expression:
We all have that little procrastination monkey bouncing around in our brains. You know the one. It says things like:
'Oh, you just need to check Twitter to see if your post got the likes and comments you were hoping for.'
'How long have you been putting off cleaning the oven? Now's the perfect time to go and do that.'
These things seem harmless enough on the surface, but if you find yourself constantly distracted from your writing with other tasks, then you have a problem.
Let me make this clear, I'm not saying you should come off social media, or let your oven stay dirty.
I am saying, think about how your patterns of distraction work in your life. Where are you stopping yourself from even sitting down to write in the first place? Are you constantly complaining about not having the time?
Self-sabotage is difficult to pin down because you know you want to write... right?
If you find yourself making excuses to explain why you haven’t done any writing, and you know in your heart it’s what you want to do more than anything, then it is likely you are undermining and sabotaging yourself.
Negative Thought Patterns & Beliefs around Your Skills
Sometimes sitting at your computer or with pen in hand, try as you might nothing comes. The idea you have in your mind will not transmute through your imagination and down into the beautiful language you expect yourself to transmit onto the page.
Something gets lost in translation from the image of your story in your mind, and the words you write. There can also often be a disconnect between your ideals of what is perfect, and what just is.
This truth is often hard for creative intuitives to bear.
The act of birthing something wholly imperfect and accepting it is hard. Do the best you can right now and be ok with that.
Accepting what is, is one of the toughest things to do in our society. We are our own harshest critics. It is a fundamental truth. It is why it is so hard to hear criticism from others because it shames us further in our own beliefs of our skill.
Here’s a radical idea:
Accept your skills as they are at the moment.
Accept your flaws, weaknesses, and ineptitude.
Then appraise your skills.
Accept that you have strengths and name them.
You may for example, lack an understanding of grammar rules, but you may have an ability to create real characters. Or perhaps you are unable to bring characters to life, creating only caricatures, but you have an aptitude for expansive language and vocabulary.
Honest appraisals go a long way to understanding how to grow into the writer you want to be. With this understanding of yourself, you can start to close the gap between who you are and who you want to be.
In the words of the Stoic, Epictetus, ‘First, say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.’
If you understand where you are in terms of skill in your craft then you can empower yourself out of negative beliefs by taking action to prove the contrary.
Self-Esteem is a doozy. And it is related to the above two points in an intrinsic way.
Feeling worthy of being a writer, of being a successful writer makes a colossal difference to the amount of work you put in or whether you ever share your work with others.
Getting critique is the best way to grow as a writer. It’s so nerve-wracking to share work with people. You’ve put your heart and soul into the work, and it feels like a personal attack when it gets torn apart.
A writer with healthy self-esteem knows that they can get valuable advice from fellow writers and editors. Not all feedback has to be used, but all feedback will tell you something about what has been perceived in your work. The more comments you get about the same thing, the more you will need to accept that they could be right, even if it’s your favourite bit.
Most critiquers want to help you become a better writer and are genuinely trying to help.
If you don’t belong to a local writing circle, I recommend online communities like Scriobphile where you can both share and critique. They also have some great rules for giving and receiving feedback.
My advice is to detach yourself as much as possible from your work. Then you will be able to receive and judge the feedback with clarity and understanding.
You are a creative being. No one can take that away from you.
It is your birthright.
Five Books That Changed My Writing Life In No Particular Order
If you’re struggling with writer's block or feelings of fear surrounding the quality of your work, then here’s a list of books that can help you attune to your creative self again.
1. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
I worked through the book as a course, though that isn’t necessary. You can dip into it here and there if you want. But if you have the time, follow the course through, doing the tasks in real-time. Integrating the concepts before moving on, you will see a change in the way you relate to yourself and gain a clearer understanding of what motivates you, what passions you have buried within you, and how to bring forth your creative being in everyday living.
If you have had unsupportive family or friends or perhaps you were even told you weren’t good enough to be a writer by a teacher. And believe me, I’ve heard that from many successful writers who defied their professors and became successful despite the discouragement from people around them.
If you struggle with self-esteem and worthiness to even express yourself creatively, then this book is for you.
2. Creative Visualisation for Writers
If you suffer from negative self-talk, then this book is for you. It is a workbook and mindfulness colouring/therapy book for writers.
There are five sections that cover: Self-Exploration, Vision, Goals, Creativity, and Focus. The workbook encourages the reader to ask questions about their self-beliefs and be honest about their desires for their work.
You can also work through goals and strategies for achieving those goals, all while encouraging you to flex your creativity as you go.
3. The INFJ Writer by Lauren Sapala
The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) has become a fashionable trend online in recent years with many YouTubers talking about what makes people different and how those differences inform the ways they think and react to certain situations.
There are 16 types but although this book is entitled INFJ, it will be useful for anyone who identifies themselves as an intuitive creative person.
Sapala talks about how typology affects the way creatives like to operate, what methods work, and don’t and it can help you identify a way of working that you may not have previously considered.
4. The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler
The must-have guide to understanding the hero’s journey story model and the archetypes that readers need to have to engage with your writing.
If you like abstract concepts and have an interest in Plato's theory of forms, or Jung’s theory of dream analysis and the meanings of archetypes then this is a great way to approach story planning.
It is also a must-read for anyone hoping to write screenplays as all Hollywood blockbusters include the elements of the Hero's Journey.
5. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of the Best Selling Eat Pray Love as well as many others.
In Big Magic, she talks openly about creativity as a muse, how inspiration hits, and how it can leave. The mysteries of why ideas appear to multiple people or move from person to person.
Why sometimes you feel enthused and at others stalled.
Gilbert has a beautiful and easy reading style and although she doesn’t reveal any techniques to overcome writer's block. Her examples show what it is like living creatively. She walks you through how to recognise what creativity is and when it is inside you and how to persevere even when you feel it has abandoned you.
I found it a profoundly uplifting and affirming book.
Never give up.
If you have a book inside you and yearning deep within your soul then you owe it to yourself to pick up that pen, feel your divine creativity and let the words flow.
Do what ever takes to get you there. Read books, take courses, find fellow supporters, go to literary festivals and conferences and learn as much as you can about yourself and what makes you live and breath words.
One such event to put in your calendar is the The Gathering of the Creatives 4-6 December, 2020. It's an Interactive online Conference for all types of creative people. Both Julia Cameron and Lauren Sapala will be running workshops over the weekend.
If you can make it to the event connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter, I’d love to hear from you. If you can’t make it to the event, don’t worry, I will be writing about the experiences of the conference and sharing any takeaways with you all.
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Jessica Triana de Ford, is a freelance copywriter and self-confessed serial un-finisher, writing fantasy and speculative fiction. She loves to help other writers find and express their inner creativity.