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Winning Your Inner Creative War

Winning the Creative War

The Pain of Creation

Every act of artistic creation (business, blog, book or otherwise) begins in the mind.

They begin as acts of love (we care about our ideas) and defiance (challenging what is with what could be).

But being inside your own mind isn’t a pretty thing.  It’s nasty in there; what is right seems wrong; up is down; and every course of action can be rationalized (adding to the frustration).

Struggling with a creative puzzle or wrestling with a conceptual problem is brutal.

It challenges your skill; do you have the ability to bring this vision to life?

It challenges your character; do you have the fortitude – the grit – to take it all the way?

It challenges your belief in yourself; can you keep working toward an elusive goal, even when nothing pans out for weeks, months or years?

Do you really have what it takes to fight these creative battles, day in and day out?

And if the answer is YES to all of those questions, are you sure you’re not just lying to yourself?

The Inner Creative War

These are the internal battles of someone trying to do something new, of someone building something from scratch, of the person creating something unique, not because he was told, but because he chose.

It’s not reserved just for writers (experienced as writers block) or entrepreneurs (experienced as failure to launch), but for every single person who stands up and challenges the group; who leaves the tribal boundaries; who demands self-determination, regardless of the consequences.

It’s a battle waged by artists and inventors; by builders and breakers; by warriors and leaders.

It’s a war fought by those brave enough to question, challenge, and try.

And like any war, there will be casualties: your dreams may not become reality, your goals might not pan out, and your projects might fail.

It’s difficult, it’s unforgiving, and it’s (often) unfair.

When I characterize creation as an act of war, I mean it.

Winning the War

And yet some of us still feel compelled to create, even with this guarantee of discomfort.

Perhaps it’s because we expect the discomfort will fade when we “make it.”  And it might.

Or perhaps it’s because we believe the reward at the end will outweigh the pain of the process.  And this might be true.

Or perhaps we have no other option because the discomfort of not creating is more painful and terrifying than the possibility of trying and failing.  And this is probably the case.

Regardless the reason, the fact that some still want to create, still need to create, is what matters; because these are the people who will create.

Winning the creative war isn’t a matter of how.  For the creator, it’s a matter of when.

Oddly enough, that is exactly how you win.

It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much can you take and keep moving forward? That’s how winning is done. [Rocky Balboa]

p.s. are you fighting the creative war right now?  Share with us in the comments below what you’re creating and where you’ve found success (or how you’ve dealt with failure).


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  • Great message for today Tom. I resonate with “It’s a war fought by those brave enough to question, challenge, and try.”

    Too often I think that our peer groups or support networks shut down their minds to our ambition. It’s almost like they are living vicariously through us and it just gets too much for them to take and they rebel by trying to talk us out of pursuing our dreams. If only to make them feel better.

    I often repeat this mantra – “The quality of questions I ask myself, dictates the quality of my life”. I refuse to stop questioning, searching and striving to be better.

    Love this quote for today’s post:
    “Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.”
    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    • Alan, thanks so much for the thoughtful comment!

      It’s tough – being around the peer group is a creativity killer (at least, for those that haven’t found a more like-minded group). And yes, they will try to hold you back (it validates their own choices, even if they are choices based on fear and they know it).

      Great quote!

      – Tom

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