When you’re a creative person, making stuff is just the tip of the iceberg, the sprinkles on the icecream, the fluffly throw on the well-made bed… (Somebody stop me!)
A crucial part of being a creative person is learning how to manage all the issues that come with creating. I’m not even talking about the things you dream up to challenge yourself with - how to get that glaze right, for instance. I’m talking about actually continuing to create.
There’s your thoughts and feelings, often expressly designed to get you to avoid the effort and risk that creativity brings. There’s the demands of the world, all Taxes and Potatoes. There’s everybody you know, your creative identity, and all the dead famous people to compare yourself to.
To set against all this, we have this little creativity secret: If you work out how to keep going, you get to keep going.
I’m no angsty teen. The fact that I still write poetry is a major achievement in itself. I could have stopped, but I didn’t. (It wasn’t out of nobility: The main reason I didn’t stop is because I can’t.)
Seeing as I’m stuck on this wild ride, I do my best to love the whole process, because that makes everything more fun and effective.
Slowly, painfully, over years, I’ve worked out what helps me keep going. I forget and remember what these things are, pretty much daily. (I guess the advantage of this is an extra serving of lightbulb moments…)
There are certain thoughts I refuse to entertain now - won’t even let them in the house. I know they want me to stop. And then crawl under the bed to stay safe from all the rest of the daunting world as well.
The ultimate cure is to return to the work. The state of creative flow is so delicious that I suspect it’s a major reason we create at all.
I don’t expect to go into the creative zone every time I work. Sometimes it doesn’t happen for ages. But I keep going, taking my chances, risking the hazards, because I’ve learnt that, for me, the meaning (and the high) are worth it.
There is a way to support yourself to keep going. Commit to your creativity. Fully accept that it’s vital to your wellbeing, and make it as easy for yourself as possible to make what you want to make.
You’ve got enough on your plate without working against yourself.