or, How to Get Around Your Nobel Excuses
A couple of weeks ago I wrote the post, What Noble Excuse Have You Designed to Fool Your Creative Self?”
The premise of the post was that when it comes to avoiding being our complete authentic creative selves, we’re all damn good at it. We’re afraid of standing strong, and standing out. Our Noble Excuses range from “Sorry, no time” to creating elaborate lifestyles which are designed to crowd out anything that smacks of personal authentic creativity. (Well, at least we’re creative in our avoidance!)
(this post is part of the Writers: How to Be Creative resource page)
Once you’ve become honest, stood up and claimed the truth that avoiding your creativity is not about time or money or talent or whatever, you’ve taken your first step on the road to recovery.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s important to understand that Noble Excuses are made for a good reason – self preservation. By the time most of us reach adulthood, fitting in and not rocking the boat has become so ingrained we don’t even pause to think about it. As we know, on a day-today basis society does not support highly creative people because personal creativity equals nonconformity.
In the Noble Excuse article I asked that you try and understand your personal creative-avoidance dance and I gave a few examples of excuse styles such as The Adventurer, The Selfless Do-Gooder, The Perfect Creator and The Smooth Sailor.
Now the question stands, what can you do about changing your creative-avoidance dance pattern so you can get closer to living more fully with your authentic creative self?
Here are 5 tips for getting around your Nobel Excuses:
1. Suck it up
As they say, feel the fear and do it anyway. I hesitated to put this here but it’s by far the most important element. Quit belly aching and worrying about fitting in or being loved by your spouse or best friend, or having enough money or time. Do what you were put on this Earth to do, reach into your raw self and share your creative gifts with us. We need them!
2. Distract Yourself
Perception is reality. You may find that certain creative tasks don’t trigger your fear and ultimate fancy avoidance dancing, while other seemingly small tasks drive you to suddenly “have to do something else.” The good news is, you can distract yourself. Once you develop awareness of which tasks or ideas or creative thoughts trigger the start of your avoidance, you can come up with other reasons why you need to do those tasks. For example:
Don’t think, “I need to get my website up so I can sell my artwork (and be vulnerable and ostracized).”
Think, “I’m going to work on my website so I’ll know how to use that design template program so I can help my kids do their own websites.”
This way, the fact that you get your own website up and running becomes incidental.
3. The Work Around
Swap fear tasks with a friend. One person’s fear is another person’s easy task. Let’s suppose the idea of creating business cards to advertise yourself triggers the avoidance dance. Months after knowing you need to do this, you’ve still made no headway with actually having a completed card. Track down one of your buddies who did a great business card for themselves, (because for them it’s a no fear task), find out which task they are stuck on (that is an easy for you), and then swap tasks. They do your card, you put together their photo book. Win win.
4. Play “What if”
Contemplate something creative you want to do. Feel your feelings and play “with if” with yourself.
What if I hit the publish button on my website?
I can never go back.
What if I can never go back?
I won’t be anonymous anymore.
What if I’m not anonymous anymore?
I can’t hide.
What if I can’t hide anymore?
I’ll be vulnerable.
…people will make fun
…I won’t be loved…
…my spouse will hate me…
he’ll file for divorce and I’ll lose my family and be forever alone and and and…
You get the idea. Often, our fears are random nameless shadows and when we bring them to the light of day they lose their power. If you are more than 10 years of age you already know that many things we fear will happen, never actually do happen. Playing what if allows you to get in touch with your real fears so you can begin to understand what’s truly driving you to your Noble Excuses. THEN you can deal with them. Playing “what if” on even one fear task will give you great insight into yourself.
5. Ask yourself…
What’s so good about fitting in anyway? Trying to be something you’re not probably didn’t work well for you in high school and it won’t work now.
This past weekend I had the privilege of speaking on creativity to a group of teachers. As I began, they dutifully pulled out writing utensils and paper, adopted serious expressions, and poised themselves to take notes. A profound contrast, I thought, to the response you get from a gaggle of kids when you let them know they get to do something creative – yelling, jumping, spitballs, general mayhem.
At what point in our lives does creativity stop being “fun” for us?
I think there’s a good answer in a book titled, ”Ignore Everybody And 30 Other Keys to Creativity” by Hugh MacLeod.
Chapter 7 – Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.
“Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the “creative bug” is just a wee voice telling you, “I’d like my crayons back, please. So, you have to listen to the wee voice or it will die…taking a big chunk of you along with it. They’re only crayons. You didn’t fear them in kindergarten, why fear them now?”
Happy Creative Tasking!
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