I am almost finished with the first draft of my first book!
Some may ask, “Chris! How do you find the time for such a thing as writing a whole book?”
To them I would say that it’s time I already spend thinking through a project like a book, so writing it is the next logical step.
I’ve had as many book ideas as breaths, the difference this time is that I’ve actually done the work and written it.
It hasn’t been easy.
I’ve had to overcome a lot.
The least of which, not being Killing My Creative Critic.
Laptop by Eric Nelson
I remember going through The Artist’s Way years ago after I had hit an extremely difficult spot of songwriter’s block. There were some fantastic suggestions as to how to push through your creativity issues. More recently, The War of Art is a must read for creative momentum. Both of those books, I think solve the problems that block creatives, save one thing: You have to do the work. Last year, I read Steven Pressfield’s newest book, “Turning Pro,” and I was ready. I blogged about the beginning of the end of my creative draught here.
The thing I had to do was to Kill My Creative Critic.
You know, that voice that tells you writing is for other people.
That voice that criticizes your spelling and reminds you that everything you’ve just written has already been written by someone better than you.
The voice that tells you that you won’t ever sell a copy so why even try.
Here’s three ways that I overcame my Creative Critic to press on with a dream (this time):
Wake Up Earlier Than Your Critic
I really don’t “wake up” until around 10am. I’m out of bed, but my cylinders aren’t firing. Since childhood, I’ve been a late starter and that just doesn’t seem like its going to change any time soon. I decided that I would wake up at six every day and write for a solid hour before I have to make lunches for my children. So I did and you know what I found out? My Creative Critic doesn’t wake up that early. I had an entire span of creative time without that inner voice telling all the things I was doing wrong and would never do, etc…By the time my critic climbed out of its crib, I was done, moved on and not even thinking about what I had written. The day moves pretty fast. We have to learn to outsmart our critics!
You have to write a ton when you go through seminary, but it’s a different kind of writing. My computer keyboard, just the feel of it, got me in an academic, I’m going to get a grade for this frame of mind. That’s not the best mindset when what you want are ideas to roll like mighty waters; when you need connections to be made and plots to be storied. So I got a 200 page spiral notebook and began to write…as in actually write. I got an inspiring pack of pens and went for it. I used to write poems and songs in a spiral so the fit was natural. Creativity happened. Now all I have to do is type it all up…which is another project altogether.
Fall In Love With The Gift Of The First Draft
The fact is, no one (except seminarians) ever turns in a first draft. A first draft can have all kinds of writing hazards on the pages. It’s where you spill ideas without grammar, draw lines between good points and cross out bad ones. Everybody first drafts. Artists and Architects sketch before building. Songwriters and Poets vomit thousands of words to find the one that describes them all. Novelists delete more than they print and Directors find ample amounts of their vision on the cutting room floor. The first draft is a target that no on gets to criticize (unless you share with a critic). The first draft is a gift. It’s artistic grace. So, fall in love with it. May your life overflow with first drafts.
I don’t know if this will help you kill your creative critic, but for me, for now, it’s working.
What have you done/tried to outsmart your Critic?