Your (Mostly) Unbeatable Worst Enemy.

Tree trunk etchings from a pumpkin patch

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.

-Ray Bradbury

When my professor handed me back my manuscript after class, he gave me a look that I will never forget. It was a mixture of encouragement, urgency, and then sadness but I cannot remember what he said. I tried to look away and sit back down in my seat, away from prying eyes and praise. Praise because I was the only one who had written a novel from beginning to completion, and for the fact that people really did believe parts of it were good. I did not however and I never believed a single one of them.  I actually skipped the day that he read parts of it aloud out of sheer anxiety and embarrassment.

Cheesy as it seems, it’s true when they say that you are your own worst enemy. When you’re battling against yourself, no one can make you stop the voices that rage on inside your head battling every bit of sense of worth left in you. No matter how much praise you receive from one professor about your excellent writing, when you’re left to your own devices, the voices of disbelief creep up and rear their endless torment to to the point of exhaustion.

For the first time since high school, I took up journaling again. There’s nothing quite as intimate as pen and paper and due to my now dime-sized attention span, I limited my thoughts to one to two sides sheet in my pocket sized notebook. Sadly, I noticed a circular but vicious cycle that I somehow trapped myself in this past year. And that’s when I decided it needed to stop. I needed to do things differently than I had done them before but how? Ignore them.

I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true – hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don’t love something, then don’t do it.

A week ago, one my all-time favorite authors, Ray Bradbury, passed away. His life and his work inspired me to write during the days it was the hardest. 1000 words a day… that’s what he tried to accomplish. It was his tenacity to keep going, even if he had to rent typewriters. I will admit I longed to write books like The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451;  his writing shone the love he had for the beauty and horrors of his imagined worlds.

I sit down and make a hard mental effort to clear my head of any judgments. This is the state I need to be in before I create, before I start my day.  Beating the demeaning voices and then going onwards to accomplish change will be the hardest thing I will ever have to do for myself. But it’s worth it.

  • Cassie

    Oh, this is so painfully true. We really are our own worst enemies. Reading this post is pretty timely for me– I was about to sit down and start writing my own post about the same subject after finishing Twyla Tharp’s “The Creative Habit.” (I highly recommend.) And that quote says is perfectly, because overthinking is really the only thing that has ever truly killed my creativity. That, and procrastination… which also occasionally fuels me.

    • Karina

      Glad I could help! Thanks for the recommendation on that book. Love reading books that make you think. :)