The greatest lesson I learned about being creative.

Sitting down everyday to write and facing a blank page is one of the hardest things to do as a writer. There is so much space to fill and so little to fill it with. If you face a blank canvass you can be sure that resistance will come along and fill it for you.

Anything to stop you creating.

There is one way to beat resistance. Continue reading

Fear V Courage

Fear works like this.

Something is presented to us that is unknown. This can be a person, an activity, a place, an idea, a job, a community, a thought.

As long as it is unknown to us it can create fear.

Fear then turns into worry and stress and the perception of a threat to our way of living.

This can lead to anger, attacks, prejudice and avoidance.

This then becomes how we react to anything new and it becomes a condition we live in.

Then we stall.

Courage works like this. Continue reading

Fear of giving.

We fear creating because we don’t like change and creating by its very nature, produces change.

We also fear creating because if we create then that means we are giving something of ourselves over for free. We may get paid but really it’s free because our work doesn’t always mean others will be vulnerable in return.

It’s a gift and that is all. A gift for the sake of being able to give. Continue reading

Who is your art not for?

There will be those who don’t get it. Who will laugh at, try to sabotage and get in the way of what you are doing.

You may then spend much of your time trying to win them round because you want everyone to agree with you. This is impossible. They just want you to fail. They are maybe jealous or angry. Let them be. Because you will waste your art and time trying to achieve the impossible. Continue reading

Hemingway is right; you are wrong.

“The first draft of anything is shit”

Ernest Hemingway said that. He is one of the greatest writers that has ever lived. I am not one of the greatest writers that is even living at this moment. In Belfast. Probably even in my own home. Yet this fills me with confidence, because most of what I write first time is indeed shit. You know what they say, if it looks like shit and smells like shit…it’s probably your first draft.

But I’m in good company apparently.

Often when we start anything creative we compare what we have at the start with what we imagine or hope we have at the end. And it never holds up. It can’t. It hasn’t had time to brew or soak. It needs to just come out unedited and you can worry about moulding it later.

You don’t have to have the finished project on the first go so take the pressure off yourself knowing that you can’t. It’s probably better to listen to Hemingway than yourself on this.

Also, if you thought this post was shit that’s okay because it was my first draft.

See?!

He was right.

New Year Resolution #1: Give up New Year Resolutions.

Timing is everything. Mess it up in a joke and your whole routine will go to crap. Go in for a kiss a second too late and you won’t be getting a second date. Everyday in thousands of ways we need to get our timing down to a tee.

Unfortunately we do the same when we set ourselves promises to change; waiting for the right moment to lose weight, the right season of our life to start a project, a dream, the perfect timing is coming. It’s just not right now.

For some reason humans are great at procrastinating. This is why New Year’s resolutions mostly always fail. After Christmas we can start afresh, we feel positive that we can get rid of that Christmas tummy at the turn of the year; next week will be different.

But why?

Why will we be ready on January 1st when we aren’t ready now? We won’t and the reason is because nothing changes. If we convince ourselves that once an arbitrary date comes around we can change then we are fooling ourselves that we won’t do the same when the New Year hits us. If we delay now then why won’t be delay later? What will be different?

The truth is more likely that we don’t want to put the work in. We expect that a magic wand will wave itself and that we will be motivated in the future. But we don’t like change. We like the idea of it sure, but when push comes to shove and we need to put some effort in we tell ourselves that there is no point starting our New Year’s resolutions when it falls in the middle of a week when next Monday will do just as well. Better to start at the beginning of the week eh? Then we have a wedding the next day so you might as well wait until that is over. Before you know it you might as well wait until Easter is over with all that chocolate and candy.

Or maybe as we promote our New Year’s resolutions on social media and we receive feedback even before we have stepped onto a treadmill, we have tricked ourselves into thinking that we have succeeded already. Just speaking out our goals might actually have a detrimental effect on their implementation.

So if we’re so good at committing to then breaking promises of all the things we will accomplish this year, how do we actually start on the road to change.

Well the answer is we start now. It may be painful, we may (in fact we will) want to put it off but when that happens we have already been defeated. We’re so frightened of what might come up later to prevent us from starting, the fear, the criticism, the lack of time, the “I’m not good enough” thoughts; that we never begin.

Or if we just bite the bullet now, when the criticism hasn’t come yet or when our schedules haven’t kicked in yet and the voices telling us we are inadequate haven’t grown loud yet; we might actually find that those things don’t come. Or when they do then we know that we have at least started. And we know that just for today we have began and made some progress even when things tell us to stop. We have begun and we can feel encouraged. We have seen that there will always be something telling us to wait so we need to start now or truthfully we never will.

We can pass over so many moments and lose so many opportunities just because we are looking for the perfect moment.

Here’s my only tip for changing behaviours, starting a dream, learning a skill, whatever it is for you.

Start now because tomorrow won’t let you.

For more on change and New Year’s Resolutions check out these two fantastic posts by Don Miller and Seth Godin

The Ricky Gervais Factor

Some people will always hate what you do.

Accept that and move on. But what we can also be assured of is that some people will love what you do.

I love Ricky Gervais. But I know more people who hate him than love him. One reason he is successful is because he doesn’t give a damn what people think. Not always a good thing, but you have to hand it to him. When he has ignored those voices and with dozens of awards squeezed onto his mantelpiece, I am sure he isn’t too worried.

If Ricky Gervais set out to please a broad audience he wouldn’t be half as good a comedian as he is. He may have a lot more fans but that’s the question that we all need to ask.

Are we doing what we do for the accolades or for the joy of the work and belief in what we are doing? Continue reading