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Shut the Hell Up, and Create

Within each of us lies a creator.

The creator is our internal source that fosters innovation, creativity and the desire for growth on many levels. Even if it was repressed during our early years of grade school or we’ve allowed our inner critic to speak too loud, too often, we all have the ability to unharness the inner innovator. Whether you’re looking to create a business venture, a painted masterpiece or a brilliant blog post, your inner creator is there.

So, what keeps so many of us from creating what we want to create? Why do we allow the inner critic and naysayer within us to speak so loud, so often? How can we avoid stumbling on the roadblocks of any creative endeavor — be it starting up a dream business, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece?

There’s a saying in the creative industry that goes along the lines of “designers do their best work at the 11th hour.” It’s been my observation that many professional creatives are also world-class procrastinators. From time to time, myself included. Resistance kicks everyone’s butt. And it’s essentially the enemy of creation.

When you boil it down there’s only one thing that defeats and overcomes the resistance to create: discipline. It may seem like an unlikely juxtaposition to even have discipline in the same sentence as creativity. But that would sell short all the courageously creative acts that are followed through on a daily basis around our planet.

Creativity is usually coupled with words like freedom, exploration, originality, innovation and imagination. But we all know that to create something is to cause it to come into being — to birth something out of nothing. To create is to do. The act of doing takes effort and work. Continual effort takes discipline.

Many in the creative industry that I work in abhor conjoining discipline with creativity. The act of creating takes focus, grit and the determination to drill down deep into the challenges and distractions with which we’re confronted to come out on the other side with something new and innovative. The best creatives I know have healthy doses of each inspiration and discipline.

What do I mean by discipline? I’m not talking about the verb that implies the act of bull whipping someone or thing into shape. Nor am I talking a complete following of the rules. By discipline, I’m referring to the act of continual work and moving forward without giving up. Discipline is the “stickwithitness” to not give up when distractions arise, to focus through challenges and keep trying regardless of what the inner critic says. Simply said, discipline means to stop stopping.

As the famous quote by Thomas Edison goes, “Of the 200 light bulbs that didn’t work, every failure told me something that I was able to incorporate into the next attempt.” The part of this quote that most people overlook is that there was enough discipline by Edison and the army around him to make another attempt. And another. And another. Until it was done.

There’s only one antidote to hush the inner critic (aka fear of failure or being judged by others) and that’s to keep moving forward with discipline. So, when you’re feeling the writer’s block or the inner critic telling you to stop or the pressure to give in to give into the fear of failure, have the discipline to stop stopping. Keep going, focus and push through. This action will give your inner critic a new role to shut the hell up, buckle down and let you create.

By Steven Morris

Illustration by Courtney Kuhlman

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Reader Comments (6)

Think like a warrior.


Blessings~

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIN-B-TWEEN

Love your post. Thanks. You might want to check out: Creating your life - [see www.wisepond.com]. It's a fabulous 'online' training based on the work of Robert Fritz [author of the Path of Least Resistance, Creating, etc]. Even though I've studied with Robert for many years, this was the first time that I was able to really build the 'creating' muscle to create the life that matters to me. It's a combination of short daily modules where you learn about the creative process and then living exercises and activities where you have the opportunity to practice different aspects of the creating process. Highly recommended.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Hinton

"Shut the hell up and create." Maybe that's like looking at a dope fiend and telling them to "Stop shooting the hell up and feel happy" or a chronically obese person to "stop eating so much and feel full." Maybe this age-old problem can't be solved by showing examples or constructing methods. Maybe we need to apply a Hapkido-like process that harnesses that creative energy rather than try to reshape how it flows.

Something that articles and books like "Making Ideas Happen" doesn't really address, is that the obstacles standing in the way of getting ideas produced is sometimes less about fear or laziness - but could have a very real biochemical root.

If we're honest with ourselves as 'idea people', we know many creative people create for the 'hit' of creation itself. That 'aha' moment causes a spike of feel-good chemicals. Social recognition for those ideas also provides a 'hit.'

It's why some are less likely to care as much about profiting from those ideas, and settle to just see those ideas 'come alive.' Some, not all, are driven by the act of creation and not from what that creation can ultimately be converted into. And the business-minded among us, find it rather crazy.

Thing is, many idea people are addicts not dissimilar from heroin addicts or thrill-seekers. Some people get their dopamine hit from producing more ideas. Some are able to get it from the entire process of producing, and it makes them prolific. Our brains build these unique pathways to get to these hits, and for many, the obstacle to making ideas is that they are truly addicted to the process of having ideas.

So they move from one to the other, getting high on those ideas. Then, they get frustrated for not following through on them. Or frustrated that they find themselves in, say, an ad agency, where they claim they give to clients the kinds of ideas they'd like to explore on their own without watering them down.

But really, that's how the symbiotic relationship came about between creative people and agencies: creatives provide their brain, agencies provide the structure to bring them to life when you wouldn't on your own (how many books are unwritten?).

They get fertile minds. You get more hits, and are compensated for it.

Still, based on my own experience as well as anecdotal evidence speaking to others, there's a deep-down frustration in many of those minds knowing they've that become dependent on the system.

That – unless you can rewire your pathways (and, like any addict, you can) – the commercial creative professions become your brain's opium den.

But to those talented idea addicts, there could be another way. A way you can keep getting that fix, which is a source of healthy happiness, and also see more ideas get made.

If you had the same type of production-enabling system that those agencies provide - you'd be able to see more of those ideas produced. And as someone addicted to ideas, who's well-compensated in their day job in the business world...what would you be willing to pay to see some of your own ideas get made?

So my question is: why hasn't a producer-type started something like this? Kickstarter and Quirky have found a niche in addressing pain points, but there are more that are open to not only turning profit, but would serve as a sort of idea-realization-machine that could bring some amazing ideas to life.

And not just for sugar water and sneakers.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim Geoghegan

"Shut the hell up and create." Maybe that's like looking at a dope fiend and telling them to "Stop shooting the hell up and feel happy" or a chronically obese person to "stop eating so much and feel full." Maybe this age-old problem can't be solved by showing examples or constructing methods. Maybe we need to apply a Hapkido-like process that harnesses that creative energy rather than try to reshape how it flows.

Something that articles and books like "Making Ideas Happen" doesn't really address, is that the obstacles standing in the way of getting ideas produced is sometimes less about fear or laziness - but could have a very real biochemical root.

If we're honest with ourselves as 'idea people', we know many creative people create for the 'hit' of creation itself. That 'aha' moment causes a spike of feel-good chemicals. Social recognition for those ideas also provides a 'hit.'

It's why some are less likely to care as much about profiting from those ideas, and settle to just see those ideas 'come alive.' Some, not all, are driven by the act of creation and not from what that creation can ultimately be converted into. And the business-minded among us, find it rather crazy.

Thing is, many idea people are addicts not dissimilar from heroin addicts or thrill-seekers. Some people get their dopamine hit from producing more ideas. Some are able to get it from the entire process of producing, and it makes them prolific. Our brains build these unique pathways to get to these hits, and for many, the obstacle to making ideas is that they are truly addicted to the process of having ideas.

So they move from one to the other, getting high on those ideas. Then, they get frustrated for not following through on them. Or frustrated that they find themselves in, say, an ad agency, where they claim they give to clients the kinds of ideas they'd like to explore on their own without watering them down.

But really, that's how the symbiotic relationship came about between creative people and agencies: creatives provide their brain, agencies provide the structure to bring them to life when you wouldn't on your own (how many books are unwritten?).

They get fertile minds. You get more hits, and are compensated for it.

Still, based on my own experience as well as anecdotal evidence speaking to others, there's a deep-down frustration in many of those minds knowing they've that become dependent on the system.

That – unless you can rewire your pathways (and, like any addict, you can) – the commercial creative professions become your brain's opium den.

But to those talented idea addicts, there could be another way. A way you can keep getting that fix, which is a source of healthy happiness, and also see more ideas get made.

If you had the same type of production-enabling system that those agencies provide - you'd be able to see more of those ideas produced. And as someone addicted to ideas, who's well-compensated in their day job in the business world...what would you be willing to pay to see some of your own ideas get made?

So my question is: why hasn't a producer-type started something like this? Kickstarter and Quirky have found a niche in addressing pain points, but there are more that are open to not only turning profit, but would serve as a sort of idea-realization-machine that could bring some amazing ideas to life.

And not just for sugar water and sneakers.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim Geoghegan

"Shut the hell up and create." Maybe that's like looking at a dope fiend and telling them to "Stop shooting the hell up and feel happy" or a chronically obese person to "stop eating so much and feel full." Maybe this age-old problem can't be solved by showing examples or constructing methods. Maybe we need to apply a Hapkido-like process that harnesses that creative energy rather than try to reshape how it flows.

Something that articles and books like "Making Ideas Happen" doesn't really address, is that the obstacles standing in the way of getting ideas produced is sometimes less about fear or laziness - but could have a very real biochemical root.

If we're honest with ourselves as 'idea people', we know many creative people create for the 'hit' of creation itself. That 'aha' moment causes a spike of feel-good chemicals. Social recognition for those ideas also provides a 'hit.'

It's why some are less likely to care as much about profiting from those ideas, and settle to just see those ideas 'come alive.' Some, not all, are driven by the act of creation and not from what that creation can ultimately be converted into. And the business-minded among us, find it rather crazy.

Thing is, many idea people are addicts not dissimilar from heroin addicts or thrill-seekers. Some people get their dopamine hit from producing more ideas. Some are able to get it from the entire process of producing, and it makes them prolific. Our brains build these unique pathways to get to these hits, and for many, the obstacle to making ideas is that they are truly addicted to the process of having ideas.

So they move from one to the other, getting high on those ideas. Then, they get frustrated for not following through on them. Or frustrated that they find themselves in, say, an ad agency, where they claim they give to clients the kinds of ideas they'd like to explore on their own without watering them down.

But really, that's how the symbiotic relationship came about between creative people and agencies: creatives provide their brain, agencies provide the structure to bring them to life when you wouldn't on your own (how many books are unwritten?).

They get fertile minds. You get more hits, and are compensated for it.

Still, based on my own experience as well as anecdotal evidence speaking to others, there's a deep-down frustration in many of those minds knowing they've that become dependent on the system.

That – unless you can rewire your pathways (and, like any addict, you can) – the commercial creative professions become your brain's opium den.

But to those talented idea addicts, there could be another way. A way you can keep getting that fix, which is a source of healthy happiness, and also see more ideas get made.

If you had the same type of production-enabling system that those agencies provide - you'd be able to see more of those ideas produced. And as someone addicted to ideas, who's well-compensated in their day job in the business world...what would you be willing to pay to see some of your own ideas get made?

So my question is: why hasn't a producer-type started something like this? Kickstarter and Quirky have found a niche in addressing pain points, but there are more that are open to not only turning profit, but would serve as a sort of idea-realization-machine that could bring some amazing ideas to life.

And not just for sugar water and sneakers.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim Geoghegan

Creativity and discipline shouldn't be seen as mutually exclusive principles. When both are present, the individual becomes highly productive and reliable, especially within the context of an organization.

February 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMicroSourcing

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