5 Sure-Fire Ways to Kill Creativity or Your Money Back, Guaranteed

IMG_1096.JPGThe question, “How do you stay creative?” reminds me of the question, “Where do you get your ideas from?” There isn’t a set way, a step-by-step guide, to creative inspiration.

But I know from experience that there are sure-fire ways to kill creativity. I’ve caught myself doing quite a few and I would only recommend them if you hate creativity and you want it gone, finished, kersplatted.

1. Stop letting your mind wander in life’s in-between moments. You know the ones: lines at airports, waits at the dentist’s office, the quick several minutes it takes to refill your gas tank. Stop people-watching or nature-gazing and instead check your phone for the sixth time in the last hour for emails or social media updates. I’ve caught myself (and catch myself) several times a day and have to remind myself this is all filler. I can provide my mind with so much more useful information by just taking in the world around me.

2. Compare yourself to others. It is one of the most efficient ways to undervalue the uniqueness of your talent and perspective.

3. Expect perfection every single time. Don’t allow yourself a mistake. Don’t forgive your work’s flaws. Think of your work as permanent instead of an evolving, living thing. Write perfect or write nothing at all. (You’ll surely write nothing at all.)

4. Dedicate every moment, every thought, to your craft. Let it define you. What more do you need when all this creativity is rushing through you, nurturing you and your story?

5. If you sometimes need a break to recharge, to find inspiration, to find life to write about and reflect on, you should feel guilty. You should feel very, very guilty, for every moment spent away from the page. When it comes to killing creativity and crushing the joy of writing, nothing works better than this.

What are some of your most effective ways to kill creativity? Share them here so we can toss them into a gigantic bonfire and purge ourselves of their soul-suckiness.

P.S. I’m giving away a signed copy of CHASING THE SUN at the end of this week—details on how to enter at this post.

Author: Natalia Sylvester

Natalia Sylvester is the author of the novel CHASING THE SUN (Lake Union/New Harvest, June 2014), about a frail marriage tested to the extreme by the wife's kidnapping in Lima, Peru. A former magazine editor, she now works as a freelance writer in Texas. Visit her online at nataliasylvester.com

11 Replies to “5 Sure-Fire Ways to Kill Creativity or Your Money Back, Guaranteed”

  1. Oh, yes, this is perfect, as I sit here at the beach, supposedly on the writer’s retreat, staring at the waves — and feeling guilty because I haven’t really gotten started yet! Guilt, be gone!

    1. So glad you got to spend much-needed time staring at the waves. Luckily the sound of them SHOULD be much louder than that guilty voice in our heads, right?

  2. Having a million deadlines at the same time is a major creativity killer for me! Ugh… And, yeah, the comparison thing is a killer — and worrying obsessively about what the reader is going to think. That one’s tough too! Thanks for sharing these 🙂

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