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.
Illustration by Courtney Kuhlman