Catapult Magazine recently published an eerily inspirational article that breaks open all the half truths and white lies that you – yes, you, avid reader and wistful writer – chant to yourself in the early morning hours when concealed in that tiny, dark hole you call your room, with only the glow of a computer screen casting an unflattering light on your shamefully pale face. But guess what? According to author Jeremy Bear, turns out these little lies only serve to stunt your potentially abundant creative flow. I’ve listed a few of Bear’s more memorable points below, or you can read the full article.

1. “I can’t show this to anyone.”

It’s a romantic idea: the cloistered genius, sitting on a treasure trove of half-finished poetry, paintings, essays and Great American Novels, a secret to everyone but her.  One day, when she’s gray and weary, a friend or relative will happen upon a fragment of her brilliance and immediately publish it, inspiring the world for all time.

While the image of the introvert artist has a certain Emily Dickenson-esque sweetness to it, it’s not doing most of us any favors.  As creative beings, we need to interact with others about our craft and we need to allow others to interact with our art.  What works?  What doesn’t?  What are we communicating clearly and/or uniquely and what’s impenetrable to everyone but us?  We’ll never know until we take the leap and share our art with others.  Terrifying, sure.  But it makes us better.

2. “I need to focus exclusively on self portraits for awhile.”

If we’re being honest, there’s always a tiny bit of narcissism associated with most creative endeavors.  It’s inevitable.  We’re all experts in one very specific subject: ourselves.  We blog, we tweet, we status-update about the minutiae of our day.  We compose poems and ditties about Our Very Special Pain.  We draw and paint pensive images of ourselves and spin fantasies about what we’d rather be doing.

Nothing wrong with any of that, but it can easily turn into a creative addiction.  And make no mistake, people and situations we know intimately inspire some incredible art, but it’s often a great idea to get out of our own headspace once and awhile.  Imagine a person we’ve never met or a situation we’ve never personally experienced.  Where does that take us?  And why?  It’s astonishing what we can explore and the sorts of walls we can knock down when we’re willing to leave “me” out of it.

7. “What worked last time will surely work this time.”

We’ve all been there.  The copy of Leaves Of Grass next to our keyboard combined with the Wagner channel on Pandora was the perfect springboard for one of our best-ever poems.  So we assemble the exact same recipe for a brilliant follow-up, this one twice as glorious as the last.

And…nada.

What produced lightning in a bottle a year ago seems tired and trite this time around, so what happened?  Nothing wrong with going back to an old, reliable source for inspiration, but it may not work again.  You weren’t exactly the same person and the world around you wasn’t exactly the same place when you wrote Poem #1.  Adapting is good.  It keeps us young and makes our work better.

-Genevieve

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