5 Ways to Avoid Pain During the Creative Process

Here’s a thing I’m discovering about writing and the creative process.

It makes me crazy.

It takes work. The words that are (or are not) coherent and organized in my head do not spectacularly leap out of my eye sockets and land on the page in front of me. I have to put forth the effort to transfer said ideas from my noggin’ to their final resting place.

And in reality, the final resting place for these ideas is not a page or screen; it’s your mind.

If the creative process were a flowchart, it would look something like this:


Ideas are running around my mind. 
And judging by the noise up there, no doubt they are throwing a rave, naked and drunk off their ass.

I make feeble attempts to round up some of these ideas. The good ones are too fast for me and get away. Like an unschooled lion, I’m resigned to catch the one that is not fully developed and probably will go down terribly without some serious seasoning.

I start scrawling out this idea. It sucks. I try again. It still sucks. I wonder if Starbucks is hiring.

I somehow end up with a finished creation that isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever written (except it might be). I share it with the world.

You read it, and then the idea is placed into your mind and asked to interact with all the other ideas that are already there. If I’ve done my job well, I will have prepared this fledging thought to be able to integrate, maybe even participate, with all of your other thoughts in some meaningful way. 
Like a kid showing up for their first day at a new school, I hope that all of the other thoughts in your mind aren’t assholes and bully my offering of an idea into the corner of your mind. My hope is that they think my creation is super hot, and we definitely want it to eat lunch with us.

And so this whole process of taking an idea from my mind and trying to introduce it over to yours with some measure of resonance takes a lot of work. It involves a lot of second-guessing, a lot of self-critical doubt, a lot of coffee.

Creating anything for public consumption (whether that is a blog, a book, a sermon, a song) involves a thousand little deaths inside of the creator.

So, here are 5 helpful tips on how to avoid the discomfort of this creative process and enjoy a much more peaceful experience.

1) Keep Social Media Near-by

Nothing helps with the crippling self-doubt of creation quite like watching a cat video or mansplaining your political views in the comments section of your friends post about their kid’s lemonade stand.

If you’re feeling the pain of this process of idea transfer, browse social media for a few hours.

2) Ensure You’re Busy Enough to Find Endless Excuses to Be Distracted

It’s tough to be sucked into the existential chasm opened by the creative process when I am so often distracted by literally anything else.

There’s no time to struggle to find the right words when I’m too busy struggling to find my X-men trading cards from 4th grade. Those could be worth some serious money, right?

3) Get Black-out Drunk & Tell Everyone You’re With About the Book You’re Writing

Creating something like a book may be a complicated, painful process. However, throwing back a few spritzers and telling everyone who cares (or cares not) to listen about the book that you are DEFINITELY writing is quite enjoyable.

The number of pats-on-the-back and congratulations that this will illicit is sure to give you a solid day or two of eased shame and guilt from not actually having created anything yet.

4) Write a Blog Post About How to Better Manage the Stress of the Creative Process

What? Only God can judge me…

5) Quit

The best way to ensure that you avoid the pains and pitfalls of the creative process is not to create anything. Just quit.

The reality is that there is no way to avoid the insanity of writing, creating, living. As The Dread Pirate Roberts said, “Life is pain. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

So don’t avoid it, embrace it. Listen to it. Learn from it.

Write, sing, paint, speak about it.

All creation worth creating comes from a place of pain. That’s what makes it interesting.

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