Where do we learn this fear? Because that’s what it is. A fear. A fear of not living up to someone else’s, and maybe my own expectations of me. That’s all. Nothing more.
Karl Augustus Menninger said: “Fears are educated into us, and can be, if we wish, educated out.”
So I set out to re-educate myself. I watched TED talks, read blogs, talked to friends and, finally, re-read a long-lost friend that sat dusty on my shelf – Natalie GoldBerg’s Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life. This fascinating, gorgeous, brave book has the best writing advice I have ever heard. Are you ready for it?
“Shut up and write.”
Hey Shannon! Shut up.
Of course. I need to shut up. No one else is telling me to stop writing. Only I can talk me out of anything (ask my parents). This relationship I have with perfection is my own creation. I built it, and I can tear it down. And so I shall. Much like I broke up with my flaws (see Dear Flaws: It’s not you, it’s me), I am now breaking up with my fear of not living up to expectations.
Dear Fears: This relationship is not working out. It’s not you – you don’t even exist without me. It’s me. I’m tired of holding myself back from all that I want and deserve in life.
(Side story: I also found $32 US dollars folded up in the middle of the book. Auspicious, no?)
Piggyback on my research
If you struggle with your creativity, please click the links below. They inspired me greatly.
- Did you lose your open-armed love of creativity in school? You are not alone. Watch this funny, informative talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html
- Ever feel like you aren’t unstable enough to be a genius writer? Watch this engaging, self-depreciating talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html
- Need some tough love about getting your writing shit together? Read this book (at least twice): http://nataliegoldberg.com/books/wild-mind-living-the-writers-life/
- Need to read something that will break your heart and uplift your spirit at the same time? Read this blog: http://www.mayastein.com/one-paragraph-at-a-time/
And on this last note, I want to send a special thank you to Maya Stein for so elegantly letting all writers off the hook with this lovely mantra:
“This is not about getting it right, figuring things out, or hitting a bull's-eye. This is not about an obsession with word choice or an exacting eye on grammatical correctness. This is not about pulling out all the stops with tricky literary devices. This is about looking at life one paragraph at time.”