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Beware these five creativity killers

Don’t let these mental minefields blow holes in your creativity:

Fear of failure
If you’re afraid that things might go wrong, or not turn out perfect, then chances are you’ll never get started in the first place. And if you keep imagining scenarios where everything goes wrong, or reminding yourself about times when you feel you failed in the past, then things will keep getting worse. Fear can be paralysing, and is pretty sure to kill your creativity.

Being cautious
Being too cautious can be fatal for your creativity. Perhaps you try to stick to techniques or ideas you already know – or which you think are tried and tested, so good to employ one more time. You might find yourself bowing to authority and not wishing to stick your neck out, trying to fit in and go with the opinion of the majority.
Creativity requires boldness and audacity. Break rules when it suits you.

Listening to your inner critic
There will be a time to scrap what doesn’t work, to throw away the bad ideas, to employ what Hemmingway called the “sh*t detector.” But that’s after the creative process. If you let your inner critic get going before you’ve had time to start generating ideas or getting words down on paper, then it will likely kill your creativity stone dead.

Being humble
I’m English. We do self-deprecating modesty as well as anyone. But sometimes it can go too far. You need to throw off the humble, modest persona for a bit, and be wildly, boldly creative. Other people may be the true experts, they may have had more success than you so far. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be as creative as the best of them. Reach for the heights. You don’t have to tell anyone that’s what you’re doing. But behind closed doors, in the sanctuary of your own writing den, you have the freedom to aim for creativity that ranks alongside the greatest writers there have ever been. Why not? There’s no embarrassment in trying to be good.

Creativity is likely to make your life, your art, your writing, more complex. Now, clarity is a good thing. Oversimplifying is not. Embrace the complexity, and ride the wave.

If you feel your creativity is stifled, try this.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • andrew March 10, 2008, 2:34 am

    currently working for a publishing company (and doing their sites) while currently “waiting” to start a blog.

    I think this post has morphed waiting to action…you know, like tomorrow or something.

    anyway – the gist is: #2 is the best tip and i hope it changes my life…wow.

  • Ross March 10, 2008, 6:19 am

    Interesting post, Simon.

    On the topic of oversimplifying, do you think the KISS (keep it simple,stupid) principle should not be applied to writing?

  • Simon April 3, 2008, 2:45 pm

    Ross, I think keeping it simple definitely works in general. Certainly, clarity is more important than style in my view. But I think simplicity is sometimes something that has been mined – it has to be worked towards. If you are too obsessed with keeping everything simple during the raw creative process, then you stop yourself going in the direction your creativity takes you.

  • Ross April 3, 2008, 2:53 pm

    Good point. I guess in the raw creative stage, you’ve got to let your ideas flow. In the editing stage, you can brush up on anything that seems to lack clarity.

  • Jennifer Perry April 20, 2010, 7:47 pm

    Great advice for all of us. And even if we’ve heard any of these ideas before, or just suspected they were our stumbling blocks, it helps a great deal to have someone like you to make it clear, simple and sensible.

    Love the picture.

  • Simon April 25, 2010, 5:21 pm

    Jennifer – thanks for the comment. I assume you mean the pic of me and my dog. She’s quite a character.

  • Jane September 10, 2012, 2:31 pm

    Terrific website Simon and your advice on writing a treatment is very helpful. I’m using it now!

  • Nancy January 22, 2013, 2:23 pm

    Hello Simon. Have you ever tried creative hypnosis, or is the link to one of your advertisers? This post is older but still holds true. Thanks, Nancy