The creative struggle (and how to beat it)

. 2 min read

I heard a poem/quote from Charles Bukowski the other day, saying that if the creative spirit isn't bursting out of you with a force you cannot control, don't do it - meaning, if creativity doesn't come naturally, don't bother fighting for it. This sounds also like Nassim Taleb, a writer who only does what he pleases, and does not write unless he feels like it. He also seems to think little of people who enjoy the feeling of having written instead of the process of writing.

With a fist swinging angrily in the air, let me burst out: what a one-sided view!

Personally, I actually fall into both categories. My creative field, like with Bukowski and Taleb, is also writing. I write both poetry and prose. I enjoy both the feeling of having written and finishing something big as well as the process - but mainly so that I enjoy the process of writing poetry, and the finishing of a full-length novel. The one I have to fight for is the latter, and the fight itself makes it the more worthy task.

The creative struggle I have for writing novels culminates in the fear of sitting down by a computer, opening a Word document, and seeing that nothing comes out. I fear that I've lost the little talent I ever had somewhere along the way. Or worse, that I think I'm writing good stuff that turns out to be rubbish. Or worst, that the brilliant idea I had in my mind doesn't show through in the prose. (This happened with my debut novel. It was a terrible feeling.)

Then again, I know perfectly well that if I just sit down and start staring at the blank page, something will pouring out of my mind soon enough. And fear that I've lost my talent? Well, wasn't my second novel already better than the first? And do the works of Stephen King or any other great writer follow a linear progression in time with respect to quality? Hell no!

The third, worst fear is the only one I cannot rationalize out of the equation. I can never be sure I get the idea out right. And no matter how hard I tell myself that practice makes perfet, I'm terrified I one day get an idea that sounds like it could turn out a great classic - and then screw the whole story up with terrible storytelling.

But that's the struggle. That's the fight. You just have to face it, again and again, and risk messing it up. Because if you don't even try to get better in your creative field, you never will. No one hits the jackpot on the first try.

So grab your pen / brush / ballet shoes / other gear, and get to work.