HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: That’s why they call it a cursor, right? Because that little thing on your computer screen flashes at you, saying “Well, what are you gonna do now?’ And there are moments in all of our lives—if you’re a writer or a reader or a teacher or a lawyer or a mom or all of the above--when we think: whose idea was THIS?
One of my first pals in mystery world was Daryl Wood Gerber, who is smart, vivacious and inspirational. She’s non-stop. She writes under two names (the other is Avery Aames) and has so many wonderful ideas that they just—bubble over at every moment.
So what are her tricks for staying positive? And creative? Today on Jungle Red—take a moment for reflection.
Being a “Creative” Can be a Challenge
Being a creative person isn’t easy. Author, actor, musician, artist, fill in the blank. You have new ideas streaming through your head all the time. Along the way, you choose your profession, and then (unless you’re one of the lucky few who are discovered at the age of five to fifteen, i.e. Justin Bieber, Judy Garland, Lassie) you face rejection. You put yourself out there, with your ideas, your talent, your heart on your sleeve, and you pray someone will say you’re good enough.
And even when you do find success, because you’ve faced rejection ninety percent of the time, you find it hard to pat yourself on the back and say you’re good enough this time. You face a new project, and you wonder if you’ve fooled someone the other ten percent of the time. You tell yourself that your success was just a fluke, a one-time deal. This time, they’ll see. They’ll know.
This self-doubt is a twist on the moral of the Emperor’s New Clothes. You know the childhood story, a Hans Christian Andersen classic. The vain emperor orders tailors to fit him with a new outfit. They convince him they’ve woven the most beautiful clothing, except they’ve woven nothing. They convince him that those who don’t “see” the clothing are idiots. Except now, as a creative person, you wonder if you are not only the weavers but the emperor, as well. You fear that you’re vain if you think your work is fabulous, and you fear that you’re one of the tailors who have woven something that is sheer fabrication, worthless, and not fit to be seen.
How do you overcome this? You don’t. But you can press on.
Or how about this:
1. Set two first draft writing goals: a short-term goal (words per day or hours per day) and a long-term goal (how many days, months, years to completion) and stick to those goals. Be reasonable. Make achievable goals. Don't convince yourself that you can a write 5,000 words a day or write a 500 page book in 8 weeks. You will probably fail.
2. Visualize the end result. I close my eyes and envision a movie of how people will react positively when they receive and read my work. I replay this movie often in my head.
3. Give yourself a reward when you reach your long-term goal: chocolate, the time to read a good book, a nice dinner out, a good firm pat on the back for a job well done. Okay, you can give yourself rewards for mini-goals, too. Sometimes you need those.
As an author, I sit down at my computer each day and try to fashion something new, unique, fun, challenging, or enlightening. Not everything I write is good. In fact, most days I think it stinks. I’ve been told by my husband that I always feel this way until the entire manuscript (short story, screenplay, blog) is complete and I’ve sent it off. And then I start all over again, at the beginning, questioning my talent and my worth.
All I can say to you is believe in yourself. Because you are your own worst enemy, you must be your own best cheerleader. Believe in yourself. Find sayings each day that will spur you on. Turn to a friend or a loved one for positive feedback. Call on a higher power if that will help. [It helps me.]
HANK: Sigh. I have a motto on my bulletin board: “What would you attempt to do if you could not fail?" On the other hand, I've also posted this photo which I tore out of Vogue.
So I use what I need.
What’s your secret to staying positive? A copy of Clobbered by Camembert, Avery’s newest, to one lucky commenter!
Don’t forget my offer of a Kindle, nook, or $100 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice! Click here for details!