Ideas and beliefs can fuel our creative expression – or stifle it.
Fiona Apple once talked about a notion that can affect any kind of artist: self-imposed schedules or deadlines.
Of course there are often “real” deadlines: a date to submit a book proposal, or to have a collection of artwork ready for a gallery opening.
But Apple spoke about “the old story that you have all these years to write your first album, and just six months to write the second one. Well, you don’t just have six months. You have as long as you want.
“When you force yourself to make an album in six months, it’s usually weak because you are putting yourself under such pressure that it can interfere with the creative process.” [LA Times, Nov. 1999]
As she points out, ideas can generate obstructive emotions and energy – especially ideas that become repeated, and solidified into limiting beliefs.
More articles on her:
“A singer-songwriter calls me from New York about once a month. She’s very young, not even twenty-five, but she feels old, especially for rock-and-roll. She hates her day job, she can’t shake her depression, and, although people say they love the sound of her voice, she passes up most singing opportunities.
“She also isn’t writing songs. To her, writing a song feels as difficult as scaling Mt. Everest. The very thought of writing a song daunts and defeats her.
“Of course her problem has nothing to do with song-writing per se; her problem is the secret muffled message she sends herself, about the difficulty of creating and the smallness of her ability.
“That message completely enjoins her from trying. What really distinguishes the productive artist from the would-be artist? The former looks at the blank ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and says, Hm, I wonder what should go there? The other says, My God, no way I’m touching that!”
Maisel points out that “most people are in the second category. They see difficulty where the creative person sees opportunity.
“If you find yourself in that second category, what should you do? First, become aware of that secret muffled message. Second, when you hear it, try to change it. In cognitive therapy this technique is called “thought substitution.” You could try replacing “This is too hard” with one of the following messages:
* “This will be easy”
* “This will be hard but not that hard”
* “This will be very hard, but I’m game”
“Each of these three affirmations has its merits and it doesn’t matter which one you choose. What’s important is that you dispel the idea that creating is too hard, that it’s somehow beyond your capabilities.”
Reframing like that – changing your limiting evaluations and attitudes – can help make you feel differently about a creative project, and yourself as a creative person.
Here are a couple of related articles:
Maybe you can even learn to appreciate, instead of fear, the “blank page” – as Isabella Mori (a psychotherapist in Vancouver, Canada) so well expresses in her poem “juicy paper” :
white and open,
this sheet for me.
forty-four years now of fascination
and no end in sight.
every time i see an open field like this,
it fills me with anticipation.
dream landscapes, i’m sure, completely sure,
are ready under this thick snow blanket,
ready to form and roll and move at any time.
all that is needed is a pen,
to draw a line, another one, then five, then twelve,
across its white expanse.
thick pads of juicy paper:
each sheet a miracle.
Source: juicy paper by Isabella Mori on her blog Change Therapy.
Eric Maisel is author of many books and online courses including:
Video clip: part of an interview about his course “Your Best Life in the Arts”:
For longer video and more about his online course, see my post:
Eric Maisel on his course “Your Life in the Arts”
Article publié pour la première fois le 17/06/2015