Are your expectations holding back your creativity?

Last year, my creativity took a nosedive.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always written. Some of my favourite memories involve going to a coffee shop by myself, notebook in hand, and etching out a poem or two on my way home from work.

I managed to write and publish three collections of poetry in the span of six years by doing that.

But sometime in 2018, my writing dwindled.

I had a lot going on then, especially with supporting my mother through some health issues and the changes those are bringing in her senior years.

My creativity had always been there for me, until it wasn’t. Once I had some time to myself, the last thing I wanted to do was sit down and concentrate on my writing.

“What’s wrong with me?” I started to wonder.

By the end of 2018, I was judging myself, hard. I slapped all kinds of labels on my lack of productivity: Undisciplined, unfocused, unmotivated, uncommitted, uninterested, unimaginative…

“Maybe writing is over for me,” I heard myself saying. “Maybe the work I’ve put out there is as all I’m meant to do.”

And then I shook my head and thought, “no. I don’t want it to be over. I’m not ready to leave it behind.”

I had a novel in progress that I’d quietly put aside, frustrated with the way I felt when I worked on it. Every time I sat down with that piece of writing, I second-guessed every line:

“What if that sounds stupid to an editor? What if this scene doesn’t make any sense? What if no one wants to publish this and it ends up being a total waste of time?”

Yet I still liked the idea for that novel. I was – am still – in love with the characters. More so, I felt the project was taking up space in my imagination. I was holding energy for it and the only way to let it go would be to finish it.

So as 2018 came to a close, I decided to finish my novel in the new year.

“Just finish it, and nothing more.”

I decided that was all I needed to clear my head and feel at peace with this manuscript.

I hadn’t had the best relationship with this novel. What had been written had happened in fits and starts, with thousands of words being deleted at a time out of my own frustration.

But when I came back to it this time, with the simple intention to just finish it, suddenly the words starting flowing.

New ideas started coming to me. The characters took on deeper layers. When I would wake up in the morning I found my thoughts going immediately to the novel.

I was, unexpectedly, inspired by it again.

And it felt really, really good.

What had changed?

I realized that the pressures I was putting on myself to write something publishable, sellable, likeable, and perhaps worst of all, perfect, were the issues.

By focusing so much on what I thought this book should look like, I was blocking my ability to simply let it come into existence as it needed to.

I was also cutting myself off from the simple joy that writing brings me.

I also set a low bar for my writing output within the year. I figured if I could write 1,000 words a week, I would have a short first draft at 52,000 words by the end of 2019.

So far I’ve surpassed that already, and we still have months to go before the year is over. But I’m not trying to force this book to be any more or any less than it needs to.

I will simply show up to the project to do what I set out to do, which is finish it.

When you allow yourself to create smaller goals around your creative projects, you take overwhelm out of the equation.

Instead of asking, “Where is this going to get me? What will this lead to? Will this be worth it?” focus instead on questions like, “What do I need to do to finish what I have started?”

There is so much pressure these days to become something, to monetize our creativity, to create something perfect and brilliant within a single sitting and then do it all over again.

None of these ideals are realistic, and they certainly aren’t conducive to the creative process, which is messy, non-linear, and full of ups and downs.

So as you are reading this, I invite you to think about one expectation you have that is currently blocking your creative joy.

And as you focus on it, I want you to think about the ways in which you can let it go.

Replace it with an attainable goal, or a simple action that you can work into your regular schedule.

See what that small change helps to shift for you.

And if you aren’t sure what to focus on, or how to work through certain creative blocks, I can help you reconnect with your motivation, inspiration, and creative drive.

I have three appointment spots left for August for creative coaching or tarot readings to put you back in touch with your creative processes.

These sessions will help you realign your creativity and intuition so that you can work from a deeper creative flow. Book your appointment here.

Until next time,

Liz xo

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