It used to be a huge struggle for me to be creative. That might be a strange thing to hear, coming from a professional songwriter, but most writers, artists, and musicians have experienced the feeling of being creatively blocked. Every time I wrote a song, I used to go through an emotional spin…”What if I can’t think of anything? What if I do and it’s not good enough?” I used to have myself in tears every time I tried to come up with something – it was like a ritual of self-doubt I had to go through in order to write. Recently, I’ve found a way to overcome that.
Think for a minute about the word “creative”. “Create”. “Creator”. Somewhere inside you, there is a little piece of God. A creator. I don’t care if you’re Michelangelo or the guy that works at the McDonald’s drive-through – we each have that creative spirit within us. So why is it that we don’t treat that with the deference and respect it deserves? Instead, we become our own worst enemy. We beat ourselves up, pick on ourselves, refuse to defend ourselves against criticism – in fact, often we internalize the criticism we hear and use it to beat ourselves up even more.
I like to think of my internal “creator” as a small, innocent child. When that child is crying, when it doesn’t want to come out and play, as a parent to your own creative child, what do you do? Do you smack it across the face and say “smarten up and stop crying! Geez, you’re so stupid, always crying all the time! Now PLAY, dammit!” Of course not. You take that child in your arms, soothe it, and you say “what do you need, precious one? What can I do to make you feel better?” If someone else is picking on your child, do you join in, point the finger and say “yeah, they’re right! You suck!”? No. You comfort and reassure that child and tell it how beautiful and special it is.
If we don’t value ourselves, protect ourselves and treat ourselves with gentle respect, how can we expect anyone else to? And how can we expect our creativity to flow abundantly if we’re stifling it with negative self-talk? The next time you catch yourself treating yourself with anything less than the respect you deserve, be aware of that. Change the pattern of your thought. Are you frustrated? Why? What would make you feel better? Do you need a day off? A nap? A bowl of chicken soup? A walk in the woods? A vacation? Do you need to laugh? To cry? To shout? To dance? Then do it.
Your internal creator is very, very powerful when it is nurtured properly. It is your own little piece of divinity within. It has an endless supply of inspiration and ideas. If you catch yourself doubting your own creative capabilities, cut it out! Consciously change that doubt into faith. Remind yourself that although this “creator” is within you, you are not the source of what it creates – that’s not your job, so the pressure’s off. You are a conduit into an endless universal source, and at any given moment you can tap into that, just like the faucet in your kitchen sink has an endless source of water. The water doesn’t come from you – you don’t have to MAKE the water – you just have to turn on the tap.
When I show up at the office to write a song on Monday morning at 10am, I now fully believe that I will be able to do it. I have the faith that the ideas are there, waiting to flow when I turn the faucet on, and I am prepared to listen carefully to what comes in. And the ideas do flow. And then again the next day, and the next, and the next. If the flow is interrupted, if it slows down, then I gently ask myself what I need to allow it to flow well again. Sometimes I call my cowriter and say “I need a break today” – and they respect that. Sometimes I clear my calendar for a while and take a vacation if I feel that’s necessary. I feel completely justified in doing whatever I need to do to nurture my creativity, because I know that if I give it what it needs, it will give me what I need. And I am constantly amazed with its ability to do that.
Interested in more behind-the-scenes musings about songwriting, creativity, the Nashville music biz and life in general, along with some free songs? Sign up for my email newsletter here.