Stifling Creativity: Even More Things We Should Stop Doing (Part 3)

Stifling Creativity: Even More Things We Should Stop Doing Part 3

I’ve been knee deep in revisions for my novel, so it took me a bit longer to get up my final post in this mini blog series! This post is the third part of my series discussing things artists sometimes do that can hinder the creative process.

{In case you missed part 1 or part 2, check them out here and then come back!}
Part 1: Stifling Creativity: Things We Should Stop Doing
Part 2: Stifling Creativity: More Things We Should Stop Doing

So without further ado, here are my last five:

11. Being afraid to fail. I’ve known writers who dream of getting their work published but revise for years without sending out a single query letter or making any attempts to self-publish. They want to wait until their work is just right. But you can’t catch perfection, so that chase is never-ending.

I’ve known others who have tried but have given up because of too much failure. Too
many rejections, so it’s hopeless. They hate what it feels like to fail, so they set aside
their pen for good.

I know it’s cliche to talk about Thomas Edison and him “failing 10,000 times”. But have
you ever tried to count to 10,000?  That’s a massive number. I can’t even imagine that many experiments. It’s doubtful he had time to wallow in self-pity. From his own words, he didn’t. He didn’t classify his “failures” as negative. He wouldn’t even call them failures and considered them learning experiences.

If you have aspirations about something, what steps are you taking to get to your goal?

Instead: Embrace failure. Accept it. Learn from it.


“I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.” - Sylvia Plath

{Nerd moment – If you averaged counting one number per second and did not pause to take a break, it would take you 2 hours, 46 minutes, and 40 seconds to count to 10,000.}

12. Worrying about what others will think. It took me a long time to start sharing with people that I write fiction in my spare time. There is something about people in the creative sphere not wanting to share their work with the people closest to them. I guess it’s easier to deal with the judgements of strangers than those of the ones you love.

When you’re always worried about how well your work will be received, you can’t be as free with what you’re creating. You can’t be as “you”. A bunch of other people’s thoughts and opinions crowd in on your space.

I remember the first negative comment I received on one of my blog posts. I was devastated. (I worked for hours on that post, how dare that jerk!) And my Twitter/Facebook posts? What’s up with the random people and their stupid/irrelevant comments? I work hard on my work. I don’t steal stuff from people. I put intelligent thought into it! I could have 50 RTs, 100 favorites, and 20 thoughtful comments. But I thought about that negative one.

And my next post was affected by it. What can I write that won’t get any negativity?  How can I make my writing clean enough? Powerful enough.

Impossible. And a waste of time and effort. It’s easier to adjust your mentality than to adjust your work. (ie – Learn to not let negativity affect you).

The truth is, I didn’t ever receive negative feedback back when it was only my sister, best friend, and mom reading my work. I didn’t get trolls on Twitter (or perhaps the well-intentioned but still negative) when I only had a hundred followers. Negativity will come as soon as you start getting a large enough following. It’s a mark of success when it starts getting back to you.

Instead: Realize some people won’t like your work. Accept it and focus your efforts on creating work you love yourself.

Create For yourself, not for the crowd - H (Hope) E Ebel

13. Never mixing it up. People are by nature, creatures of habit. We have our system in place. Our favorite spot to create. The best paper to use. The best sounds to set the mood.

But the truth is, people can be the most creative when they are pushed out of their
comfort zone. One of my current favorite TV shows is Project Runway. It’s a show where
Fashion designers compete against each other to design the best runway looks. Every week there is a theme that attempts to push contestants to their limits (ie…you’re making party dresses but only have children’s school supplies to use for your materials). I always love when contestants transform from being completely stumped to creating something they are so proud of – something they never would’ve created had they not been pushed out of their comfort bubble. All of that to say, sometimes one way to ignite our best creativity is to be challenged to do something beyond what we believe we are capable

For Writers: If you’re a plotter why not try a few times to write by the seat of your pants? And if you’re a panster, why not try to plot? If you usually write in the morning, why not write in the evening? And vice-versa. Like first person? Try third. Dislike horror? Try writing some.

Think of the thing you’d never choose to write about and write for a while about that. You may find you unlock a creativity inside yourself that you never knew existed.

Instead: Look for ways to step out of your comfort zone. Try something related to your craft that “you never do”.

Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.  Brian Tracy Quote

14. Clinging steadfastly to the rules. When you’re a nerd like I am, you read all the books on novel writing you can get your hands on – in addition to all the blogs and professional articles. But pretty soon, all the rules and contradictory advice become overwhelming. You find you can’t even write one sentence without pausing to delete an adverb, reword a sentence to active voice, and fixate on whether each sentence is emphasizing the right words. And after you’re finished writing – with all the correct “rules” in place – your sentence reads like a mechanical robot that ain’t nobody got time for.

My point is, to let your creativity flow, you sometimes need to forget the rules. Don’t fixate on perfection. Don’t think, “You’re not supposed to…”. Just create.

Instead: Study the industry. Know the rules. Be okay with breaking them.

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist - Pablo Picasso Quote

15. Never starting. Otherwise known as procrastination, this point completely halts creativity in its tracks.

I’ve heard it said that more than 80% of people feel that they’ve got a book inside them. I’ve never officially polled people to determine the realness of that stat, but I do know 80% of people aren’t writing books. And I can’t say much. For years, I dreamed of writing a novel but never put any forward progress into achieving that goal. Shortly after college, I started writing my first novel. I’d write for several days and then forget about it for months. Little did I know how much time is actually required to write a full-length novel. It wasn’t until the past year and a half that I put serious dedication toward my goal. I now write every night. And I have a finished novel.

To ignite your creative sphere fully, you’ve got to stop dreaming about your goal and start working toward it. You’ll get the best results if you commit fully. (ie. It isn’t some sporadic endeavor that you dedicate time to for a few days when the wayward thought crosses your mind).

You know that thing you’ve always wanted to do? There’s never been a better time to start.

You don't have to see the whole staircase just take the first step - Martin Luther King Jr Quote

Don’t forget to follow me, so you get an update on my next blog post!

Let’s Chat! – Do you notice any of these things stifling your creativity or am I the only one? Leave me a comment in the box below!

If you enjoyed this post, Likes and shares make me smile - H (Hope) E Ebel

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Six Tips to Write Your Novel in the Vibrant Way Your Brain Imagined It

9 thoughts on “Stifling Creativity: Even More Things We Should Stop Doing (Part 3)

  1. All good points.
    The one about never mixing it up is one most authors could learn from. If you have a particular tick or habit, it’s always best to try and break it just to see what happens next.
    With the novella I’m writing now, I’m trying to go as far as I can without bridging and exposition. Letting the action of each chapter just happen, and trying to get the connective tissue (and what happened between chapters) wound in casually. I’m happy with the progress so far.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s so easy to get stuck in a rut and not even realize it! I love what you mentioned about writing to get rid of a tick or habit. What a great idea! I think it would be a great exercise to try out with a critique partner. For me at least, I have a hard time identifying my own writing tendencies. Thankfully, I have a dear critique partner who is always pointing them out for me. Thanks for the reply!


  2. Brilliant post. I’ve definitely been hit with the rules one! I read so much on how I ‘should’ be doing things that I ended up absolutely frozen. I did learn that one, but it’s so easy to believe that everyone knows more than you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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