Struggle is what turns the hairy caterpillar into a graceful butterfly
When a creative person first embarks on his or her journey, they enter a very telling phase. They make sacrifices, immerse themselves in their craft, absorb the rules, learn the classics, and struggle to churn out their own (awkward) work. They refine their skills as they toil along.
Maybe it’s an apprenticeship period—lasting five to ten years—or maybe it’s a particular project—lasting, say, a year or two.
When we complete this phase—this apprenticeship or project—we come out the other end a changed person. To friends and family, we may even look different. But our appearance hasn’t really changed. No—we’ve changed in other ways.
Our brains have stretched; newer and stronger neural connections have been made; we’ve trained ourselves to study longer, to think deeper, to focus more intensely, and to learn new skills.
What my head looks like when I do too much reading and not enough writing
Last night I felt agitated and drained, as if I put in a solid day’s work—yet I didn’t feel satisfied, probably because I didn’t accomplish a thing. I spent my entire Saturday reading. I also did some thinking about a novel that’s growing in a shady, back quarter of my head. The result? I felt overstuffed, overfilled with information, facts, ideas, musings.
And I didn’t clear out any of that psychic goo. I had piled a bunch of brown boxes into my mental storage space, but didn’t do any cleaning. I didn’t release any creative tension—I just kept refilling and refilling and refilling, and by 9 pm I felt dizzy and confused and very, very frustrated.
Lesson learned? I’m supposed to be creating, writing—not jamming my brain with facts and information to the point where I feel psychologically bloated and exhausted. Damn it, I want to use my creativity and exercise my imagination, not keep my powers dwindling on the sidelines.
Note to self: I need to do more writing and less refilling. A balance of input and output is needed. If I don’t actively workout my creative muscles, passively feeding them with more juice will only make me feel mentally bloated, listless and clueless. It’s important that as I restock the well, I also simultaneously lighten the existing load.
Cognitive overflow makes me feel crazy. Relieving creative tension, on the other hand, keeps me sane.
Image by ryochiji (Creative Commons)
You may have been wondering where I’ve been and why I haven’t posted to my blog in the last few weeks. So if you don’t mind, let me fill you in.
But first, I want to introduce you to my new puppy. His name is Cooper and he’s a borador; a half lab half collie. He’s very, very smart as I’ve been taking him to puppy training :). Here are some pics.
Okay, now here’s why I haven’t been active on my blog recently. This summer I’d been taking a couple courses to finish up my degree and I wrapped it up a couple weeks ago. I’m now an official U of T graduate :D. There I studied professional writing and philosophy.
Lessons for Creative People is a book about achieving success on your creative journey. The purpose is to get you, the creator, back to doing the thing you were meant to do.
In this Book, You’ll Learn:
- How some eminent creative thinkers and artists turned their lives around from the depths of despair to achieve profound success.
- New ways of looking at the world that’ll help you overcome four mental blocks—dependency, negativity, a divided self, and procrastination.
- How to become a more independent artist, how to bounce back from failures and setbacks, how to create with more authenticity and excellence, and how to work and live with fierce sense of urgency.
Do you feel that you have a creative calling in life that you’re not going after? Do you desire to write an excellent book, make a living from your paintings, launch an acting career, or lift your rock band to the next level?
If you answered yes, then Lessons for Creative People will help equip you for the long, tough journey that awaits you.
Update: Only 53 Copies left!
Lessons for Creative People is a research-oriented essay about achieving success on your creative journey. It gives solutions and strategies and philosophies to help any creative person overcome their mental barriers that are holding them back from doing the work they love.
I call the book an ‘essay’ because it’s very short—16,000 words. You can breeze through it in one sitting. 😉
In this book, you’ll learn:
How other creative thinkers and artists turned their lives around from the depths of despair to achieve profound success.
How to overcome four common mental blocks—dependency (and conformity), negativity, a divided self, and procrastination.
How to become more independent, bounce back from failures and setbacks, create with more authenticity and excellence, and work and live with fierce urgency.