Mind Like Water

On Creativity

When I was little, I used to create things constantly. Starting from 8th grade, I wrote chapters of a fantasy novel with the intention of publishing it some day. I liked to draw, as well.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped drawing and writing. I didn't draw much starting in High School-- I'd doodle in class, but never worked on much that I wanted to keep. I wrote a lot during High School, especially during my Creative Writing class, but then somewhere around my senior year I just... stopped.

I think those people who talk about creativity as a muscle are on the right track. If you don't use it, you get rusty, out of shape mentally. I don't think I actually stopped being creative, but all that energy got funneled into other pursuits, like writing mediocre papers for classes I was only mildly interested in.

What is really disheartening is when I try and go back and get into writing or drawing, I have these aweful critical voices in my head telling me how everything I'm doing sucks.

You know what? I want to do it anyway. The secret about perfectionism is that you don't have to avoid it altogether, just delay it until it's time to edit. Write a crappy first draft, and then use that perfectionism to refine.

I find the same critical voices spilling over into my digital creative work. I have this web application I want to write, and I have such a hard time getting started. I keep telling myself how perfect it needs to be, but in reality I just haven't gotten the courage to write that first draft yet.

I feel it coming soon, though. Nearly every day I sit down with some intention of working on that draft. The ideas are flowing, I just need to put pen to paper.