How to Shutdown Negative Creative Talk

2min read
blank notebook paper and pen on a table
Multi-passionate Creative

It is often said in narrative that creatives are troubled souls. They live difficult lives which gets expressed through their work and art. And they have a challenging career trying and struggling to make a living doing what they love: creating. They don’t take the typical path many people follow. They must create.

Being a creative myself, I think of this at times. And then I think about the many creatives I’ve interviewed and have read about. Many of them describe having a fear of getting in their own way when trying to pursue their work. This is so striking to me, and I can relate to this statement more than not. Going after a vision, whether it’s a piece of art or a business, involves creating—and this is hard. Every time you create there’s risk to be faced with: vulnerability, failure, stress…and the list goes on of all the negative possible outcomes that could occur. You may disappoint people, but you will be your own worst critic.

“The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

Steven Pressfield

Steven Pressfield writes a whole book about these challenges in The War of Art. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard this book referenced in other resources I’ve studied, and I revisit this book often. It’s one of my top favorite books I have ever read. Pressfield points it out right up front. It’s message is simple. You can substitute [writing] for your creativity of choice here:

It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is resistance.”

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

illustration of a blank piece of paper and pen facing away from each other
Negative Creative Talk: A blank page is thinking “I’m afraid vision will never come to me.” An ink pen is thinking “I’m afraid of making a permanent mistake.” – Illustrated by Maria Gosur

In doodling, I sketched this drawing one day. Figuratively speaking, this illustration highlights the negative self talk we do that builds creative resistance. Some people have visions [blank pages] that never come to life because they’re afraid each move is a success-or-permanently-fail scenario. Therefore, the steps are never taken where the pen meets paper, where creativity comes to life.

The reality is that the permanent pen is a pencil that allows for a continuous work in progress. It’s only a permanent mistake if you don’t learn along the journey, from both the failures and successes.

Pressfield also says, “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us.” —This is the life we create.

There’s no such thing as creative block or the world not having room for your creativity. This is just a fear of putting ink to the page. The best way to get past this resistance is to just start. The pen and paper would look far more cheerful if you did, and the world will be a better place because of your creative contribution.

Maria Gosur is a multi-passionate creative who loves to learn, design, make a difference and inspire others to do the same. With education and experience in all areas of creative work, Maria is passionate about sharing her knowledge and encouragement to others who are trying to expand their skills, pursue big goals, and be a resilient creative.