Recently, I was working on what I’m sure would have been a great blog post when I received a snotty text message from a friend on an unrelated topic. Stupidly, I stopped typing to pick up the phone and read the message.
It took me ten minutes to stop being pissed off and start typing again. The magic of writing while inspired had evaporated, and I had to fight my way back to being able to write anything other than the shitty text messages I would have liked to send back to my friend (I didn’t send any rude message, just for the record. Maybe I am starting to mature a little bit).
After that mental struggle, I did manage to shrug off my friend’s comment and negativity and get on with my work. He didn’t know he was interfering with my writing, and he is also an aspiring writer. Sadly, aspiring to write is all he is doing. So why would I let a comment from someone who isn’t even working on his art ruin my creativity?
I make a practice of not talking about my work in progress because of those times over the years when I mentioned a story I was writing or an article I was planning to pitch and the person I was speaking to killed it before it got off the ground. I don’t know anyone who creates on a regular basis who hasn’t had a similar experience.
I took a break from blogging for a few years, as I’ve mentioned before. One benefit of this time was that I discovered a method to shield myself and my work from deadly comments. This technique may not work for everyone, but since I respond by getting pissed off (sometimes for days), it works for me.
I just don’t talk about what I’m working on while I’m working on it.
As writers, we’re conditioned to seek and receive feedback on our work. We’re told that we need that good, bad, or indifferent feedback so we can make our projects better. I don’t actually know a writer or artist who has improved by showing off a work that’s still in its fragile embryonic stage. I do know a lot of writers and artists who have stopped work on a promising project that they were happy about because they allowed it to be seen before it was ready.
I have actually had projects killed by others when I mentioned something I was thinking about starting. The person I was speaking to is someone I trust completely, but she was able to kill my idea by saying she thought it was a good idea.
One comment. It can be positive, negative, or completely off topic, and it can kill creativity for minutes, hours, or even days. It can kill entire projects.
If you let it happen.
Our works needs time to grow past the awkward beginning stages. During that time of incubation for the art, the artist has time to develop a mental immunity against the criticism virus harbored by just about everyone.
If you experience ideas committing suicide around you, experiment with keeping them secret for a while longer. Give the idea more time and effort before you judge it, and especially before you invite anyone else to judge it. See what works for you.
And no matter what anyone says, keep creating. Always.
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