Embrace the Power of Zero

A lot of people resist starting something (writing a book, launching a blog, etc.) because it means you have to start at zero. There are also mental blocks that get in the way of starting small, and for good reason. Starting from nothing is hard, but fear not. In this installment of DIY MFA Radio (Episode 82), you’ll discover why zero is so incredibly powerful.

Listen to Episode 82

Going from small to big, from rough to polished, from amateur to pro, is not as hard as you might think. In fact, as Austin Kleon says in his book Show Your Work, small art and big art are both on the same creative spectrum; they’re both still art. Going from nothing to something, on the other hand, is WAY more difficult.

Don’t panic. This is actually good news. It means that getting started and taking that very first step is the hardest thing you’ll need to do on your creative journey. After that, everything gets easier. Still, taking the impossibly difficult itty-bitty first step is HARD, especially when you don’t have a support network or a track record of success to help you take that leap of faith. We also buy into countless myths that keep us from getting started in the first place.

3 Myths We Tell Ourselves:

  1. I have to wait for the right time.
     We all have a long list of excuses, of things we need to get in order before we begin writing that novel, or starting that blog or that website. Yes, honor your reality and make sure you’re not sabotaging yourself. But the truth is, when we say it’s not the right time what we’re really saying is that we’re afraid of taking that first step. There’s never going to be a right time to make the leap. You just have to jump.
  2. I can’t do it.
     “I can’t start a website because I don’t know how.”
     “I can’t write a novel because I don’t have time.”
     “I can’t go to a conference because I don’t have the money.”
     
     When you honor your reality, ok sometimes some of those might be true. (If your bank account is empty, it’s probably not a good idea to go into debt going to a conference.) But if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll probably realize that instead of saying ‘I can’t’, what you should be saying is ‘I don’t want to’.
     
    Realizing the difference between ‘I can’t’ and ‘I don’t want to’ was a really big step for me. And you need to recognize that owning your choices is important. It’s powerful. No longer are you the weak, victimized person who can’t figure out how to put up a website. You can take charge, acknowledge that you don’t want to learn how. And at that point you can either ask for help or you can choose not to do it at all. But the choice is yours.
  3. Something (or someone) else is blocking me from getting started.
     Whether it’s writer’s block or some other creative block, you may believe that there’s something standing in your way. (Spoiler: Those blocks don’t actually exist.)
     
     I’ve read a lot about busting through creative blocks and there are a lot of people out there who purport to have any number of different methods for busting through creative blocks. The thing is, there are no external creative blocks. Blocks are all about your mindset.

One thing that’s important to defeating these mindset blocks is understanding the difference between resistance and blocks. Getting past blocks is about mastering your mindset and getting yourself into the right headspace but resistance is different; it’s much deeper.

Resistance is often based on fear or some other emotion deep down that is making you avoid a certain project. The key to overcoming resistance is understanding that it always exists for a reason. It’s up to you to discover where that resistance coming from and then use it as a compass to show you which way to go.

When you have a project and you are feeling the pain of having to take the leap from not being on the spectrum of creative progress to finally being on that spectrum, you need to be able to tell the difference between a block that you can blast through and resistance that you need to be mindful of and press into.

More info about resistance and creative blocks:

These are a couple of my go-to reading resources about creativity and resistance. These are Amazon affiliate links so if you decide to purchase through these links, DIY MFA gets a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

Creativity for Life (by Eric Maisel) — A creative coach with a background in psychology, Maisel balances the “touchy-feely” side of creativity with more nuts and bolts information, and concrete exercises. As an analytical and logical creative type, I find his approach more appealing than the”woo-woo” stuff you often find on this topic.

Conceptual Blockbusting (by James L. Adams) — This was the textbook for a creativity seminar I took in psychology graduate school and it’s still my #1 resource when I need to challenge my thinking and break out of a creative rut. It focuses on creative problem-solving and how our various perspectives and mental blocks can keep us from “seeing” creative new alternatives.

The Power of Zero

All of these myths are things we tell ourselves when we are trying to step onto the creative spectrum at the zero point. We have no words. We have no followers. It’s easy to give in to the fear of being at zero.

The zero moment, that first glimmer of an idea that you have, it’s the power of potential energy. But most of us don’t realize when we’re in it. When you’re at zero you can do anything. You have nothing but uncharted territory ahead of you. The more people you have watching your creative process, the more aware you are of being watched.

Remember, zero is the great equalizer.

I want to challenge you to embrace your zero moment. Head over to Twitter and tweet out what you did to celebrate your zero moment, or what you plan to do if you haven’t gotten there yet! Make sure to include the hashtag #zeromoment so that I can follow and celebrate with you.

And keep an eye out. There’s awesome stuff coming, guys. Keep an eye on your inbox for more details. If you’re not on the list yet, you can sign up here.

Link to Episode 82

(Right-click to download.)

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Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome.


Originally published at diymfa.com on February 17, 2016.