What Blocks My Creativity as a Writer?
In her excellent book, Bird by Bird, author Anne Lamott writes,
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor…. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft…. Perfectionism will ruin your writing, blocking inventiveness and playfulness and life force…. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived. Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground — you can still discover new treasures under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things, get a grip…. Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation, while writing needs to breathe and move.”
So … am I perfectionist? I doubt it. I’m reasonably organized, though not overly much, for sure. I definitely have some clutter and mess in my life, and really, I don’t worry about it too much, though sometimes I do think I should try and finish up the loose ends I have laying around, whether in my writing or my home or things on my “to do” list that I have put off and put off (yes, for far too long in some cases: things I kind of dread like getting an updated will, or writing about things I’m nervous that people will freak out about).
But there are other things in my life that seemed to have “blocked inventiveness and playfulness and life force,” though every now and again those wonderful attributes do their best to pop out between the straightly- laced black house dress and black ladies’ oxford shoes of my childhood memories that have tended sometimes to keep me in the overly straight and narrow, so to speak.
Sometimes, walking slowly, trying to pace myself to the steps or expectations of those I love, admire, respect, also makes me feel “blocked” … but I feel guilty when I am tempted to complain about that, because they’ve loved me and cared for me, and it’s my responsibility to return the favour … isn’t it? Or not? Today, someone on Facebook called me the “energizer bunny” — I’m not really; I do wear myself out frequently. But how do I find the line between what I want to do … and what others want me to do? How do I preserve enough energy to allow my creativity — my “inventiveness and playfulness and life force” — to blossom?
Do you suppose that even the “clutter” of my drive to be — well, obedient and responsible and good, I guess — is “fertile ground” from which I can “discover new treasures under all those piles”? Maybe cleaning up these “life piles” and “editing” some of those responsibilities out (without being overcome by fear and guilt…) will help me “get a grip” … so I can really run with my writing and other creative passions? But how? Help!