For the past decade or so, creativity has taken the backseat to all other endeavors. That isn’t to say that I didn’t try to work creatively in my education, one-to-one work with young people, managment role, and later voluntary consultation work. It’s just that the artist* in me was a nuissance. There was no time for that nonsense. There was real work to be done.
So the guitar collected dust, the short story ideas slowed and eventually stopped, and life just went on, because it had to.
Now, however, my job is apparently to be creative. I have to come up with lesson plans for my students, which is pretty easy, considering I have two. But more importantly, I’ve got to come up with ideas for articles (which only sometimes get picked up) and short stories (with which I’ve had absolutely zero luck), and if I can’t, it’s not okay – I can’t put it off in the name of my real job. This is my real job.
It doesn’t help one teensy-tiny bit that I’m incredibly sensitive to failure. Working with young people was incredibly different, but I’m not going to fall into the trap of it-was-so-much-easier. It wasn’t…it was excrutiating sometimes. The only worthwhile comparison was that I had a regular paycheck then, whereas now I’ve got anything but. Everything else was apples and oranges.
And brick walls come out of nowhere…The more I need to have a great idea – the more the pressure is on – the less likely the ideas are to flow. And even when they do come, they’re in stops and starts, a hiccup here, a sneeze there. When fear kicks in, my confidence sinks, and then everything I come up with seems trite and dull, or, worse yet, awkward and icky.
So, I fall back on what I know. When a young person with a particularly complicated set of circumstances had a particularly lofty goal, I’d tell my staff to work backwards from success. The idea was that going from the state of panic, fear, and hopelessness in which the young person stood to this pie-in-the-sky ideal seemed a bit far fetched. But ideal situations do happen, and the trick is figuring out the formula that brought them to fruition, or, rather, were most likely to bring them to fruition.
In the name of getting past this despicable writer’s block, as well as sharing this sometimes very handy technique with you, Gentle Reader, I shall demonstrate:
Ann’s Goal: To successfully pitch a paying magazine.
10. Ann receives an email from editor at XX Magazine informing her that they’d love to run with her article idea, and please find attached contract, etc., etc.
9. Editor at XX Magazine writes email to Ann informing her, etc., etc.
8. Editor at XX Magazine likes emailed pitch received from Ann.
7. Editor at XX Magazine receives emailed pitch received from Ann.
6. Ann sends pitch to editor at XX Magazine.
5. Ann writes up pitch that is excellent and exciting and cutting edge.
4. Ann has extraordinary idea for a pitch that is excellent and exciting and cutting edge.
3. Ann has confidence to allow her ideas to come to fruition and develop into a pitch.
2. Ann is not afraid, and so her confidence is not inhibited.
1. Ann realizes that she has nothing to fear but fear itself (thanks, FDR!) and gets up off of her bum and starts brainstorming.
Looks like I have work to do. Thanks for reading.
*tongue planted firmly in cheek