Habits of the Highly Creative: No. 7

I’ll be posting a new series starting this Friday: Habits of the Highly Creative. Being a wife, mom and writer, I am always searching for tips and techniques that can increase my creativity, while helping me find peace in the midst of pressure. Below is my first habit.


Speak about art in a way that invites discussion, not defense.

I refuse to criticize another writer’s work. I may question a choice, wonder about the meaning or intention, but I speak in a way that the artist, if she or he were present, would be invited into the discussion. If I speak about the work in such a way that the writer would be forced into a defensive mode, then I am in serious danger of spoiling my own work. Here’s why:

It’s a fear-based decision to disparage other writer’s works. It’s easier and safer than creating our own. Cruelty feels like an indulgent release for our frustrated artistic energies and agonies.

But cruelty has its price, and it’s more than any artist should pay.

As we persist in the habit of hostility, we condition ourselves to think of art as an activity that must be defended. When we want to create, our energy is bled dry by the ever-present inner critic. We’ve made that inner voice stronger and more compelling than the spirit of creation. We’ve invited fear into the process as a valid participant and welcome guest.

And then when we try to create, we wonder why we’re blocked. Why we’re fearful. Why we fall so far short of our own “standards.”

Our words have far more creative power than we realize. Neuroplasticity, or the science of how the brain responds to stimuli, has shown that our brains are structurally affected by our words. So every time we disparage a piece of art, we wire fear and art together in our brains.

So, if I close a novel and throw it in the trash, you won’t hear me crowing about it. I’ve already moved on to something that engages me more fully. I will celebrate that next novel. I’ll tell others about it. I’ll sing it praises. And I’ll enjoy more creative power later, because I’ve connected art with the joyful pursuit of beauty and meaning. I’ve learned that my days are far too short to waste time. I invest my time in art, not fear.

I hope you join me. Try this habit for thirty days, and see if your own creative power increases.

Check back next Friday for more Habits of the Highly Creative!

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