In Gabriela Pereira’s upcoming book, DIY MFA, she debunks the following 5 creativity myths:
- Creativity is an exclusive club, and you can’t be part of it.
- Creativity is innate–you either have it or you don’t.
- Creativity is driven by chaos, so there’s no way to control it.
- Creativity is all about getting that one “Big Idea.”
- Creativity is focusing on an idea until it’s perfect.
#5 resonates most with me. I’m a perfectionist in pretty much all things. You’d think this would make me a “master” of anything I attempt.
Instead, I rarely follow through or finish anything because I am a perfectionist.
If I can’t get it right in my first attempt, it gets discarded or set aside permanently. I kept comparing myself to the successful writers (JK Rowling, Stephen King and Madeleine L’Engle for examples) which made things even worse for me. I found that not only I couldn’t finish what I started, I couldn’t even get started on anything!
For a long time, I thought that perhaps I wasn’t meant to be a writer because I had no skills or talent for it.
Then, I began to study the history of these writers more closely.
It took JK Rowling about five years to write the first book of Harry Potter. This manuscript was rejected twelve times before being accepted.
Stephen King threw his first manuscript, Carrie, in the trash because he wasn’t happy with its progress. It wasn’t good enough. Tabitha, his wife, retrieved it and encouraged him to not give up on it. To finish it. God bless that woman.
Madeleine L’Engle was very shy and introverted as a girl; so much so, many deemed her as “stupid.” So, she reverted to imaginary friends and worlds. Writing grew out of this. With very few publications under her belt, she faced rejection time and time again. Eventually, at the age of 40, she decided to give up on writing altogether. However, the inner voice wouldn’t let her do it. She would write A Wrinkle in Time which would ultimately be rejected more than thirty times before being published.
Wow…these writers weren’t perfect. They didn’t happen upon success over night.
No, success came slow and hard for each of them.
Anne Lamott summed it up best for me:
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.”
Oh, this rang true and clear for me! Other than the fact that I am a bit on the crazy side, I don’t relish the thought of being miserable for the rest of my life. I’d rather write than NOT. I also began to realize that just about every successful writer out there had to work hard in their craft to get where they are.
Which means that there is no such thing as being “perfect.” Just lots and lots of practice.
Do any of the creativity myths listed above resonate with you?