Getting Started: 5 Ways to Overcome Creative Resistance

When I read Rachel Mankowitz’s blog post about struggling to write music for some lyrics she’d heard, I could relate. How often have I had a spark of inspiration, a desire to do something, but never managed to follow through? Even when it’s something I really care about, resistance to working on the project is always there. In fact, the more I care, the harder it is to start. Why is that?

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A Waste of Time or a Lesson?

Wasting time comes in many guises. There’s time spent on “frivolous” activities like watching TV or playing games on your phone. There’s time spent on projects that don’t go as planned or have unexpected results (lace shawl I can’t seem to knit, I’m looking at you). There’s time spent mucking about when you are trying to create something new that results in nothing but a stack of awful sketches or pages of writing that you can’t actually use.

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Waiting for Inspiration? Spend the Time Practicing

There’s a belief that all the great artists are inspired, that what makes their work wonderful is a brilliant idea or new insight. But this is just a myth. A single moment of brilliance can be blinding to the rest of us, but there’s more to it than that. You can’t make use of inspiration if you don’t know how to use your medium. Great art comes from lots of work, which can be summed up in one word: practice.

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Doing The Thing Every Day — Gently

Creativity takes practice, which is why people say “You should write every day” (or draw or sculpt or dance or play the tuba every day). There’s an understandable emphasis on consistency, on showing up again and again to do the thing, whatever it is. On working steadily, even if it’s slowly, so that, like the tortoise, we can cross the finish line. Even creativity guru Julia Cameron says so.

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