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What’s Keeping You From Creative Work?

Saige Paints the Sky movieAs a child or teenager, we were perhaps more freely creative, but as supposed “grown-ups” we face fears and uncertainties about our talents, or the marketplace value of a particular form of expression, or what our investing in a project means – both for us, and others.

Some forms of creative work may have structures and guidelines to follow, at least during some stages, but at some point the venture is, well, creative. You need to make things up.

There can be many inner threats and challenges to all these aspects of creating.

Author Milli Thornton describes one example: a CPA who kept shutting off his dream to write.

She notes he had “long wanted to write the story of his life as a fictional novel, but could not bring himself to write more than the opening paragraph. ‘If I can’t write like Wally Lamb, it’s too scary to even begin,’ he declared in his heart.

“The years ticked by and the CPA felt unfulfilled. ‘I’ll write my story when I retire,’ he promised himself. When I heard this, I couldn’t rest. ‘Don’t wait until you retire!’ I said. ‘You may just put it off forever at that rate.’ I knew this truth intimately because of the years when painful hormones surging from my fear of writing gene caused me to hide from my own creativity.”

Milli Thornton is author of the book Fear of Writing: For Writers & Closet Writers.

Also see her site Fear of Writing.

Distracting ourselves away from creating

Creativity coach Romney Nesbitt  addressed in an interview some of the issues in people’s busy lives that can get in the way.

She said one of the greatest blocks to creativity is “Busyness and self-chosen distractions. Most people are so overwhelmed with life—jobs, kids, health, chores, financial struggles, etc., that there’s simply no time to stop to think about what’s really important in their life.

“Regarding the self-chosen distractions: people are becoming aware of how their free time is being consumed by compulsive texting, phone app games, etc.  As a coach I remind people that technology is meant to serve us, not the other way around!  In order to create one must  commit to deep and sustained focus. ‘Flow’ happens when we allow our brains to rest in our creative work. Interruptions disrupt flow. Making a decision to create changes everything—attitudes, actions, choices about time and interactions with others.”

Nesbitt goes on to say,

“Each creative person has his or her own set of challenges. In general, most ‘creatives’ are challenged by TIME—specifically claiming time to work.  People have to decide that their creative work matters enough to do it and then they have to find a way to add their creative activity into their day. The hard part is to choose which activities to eliminate in order to find new time slots!  People hate to choose!”

This also gets to one of the key issues: meaning. Are you finding creative fulfillment in your “day job” or even creative profession? If not, maybe you need to really look at your choices.

From interview: Romney Nesbitt, Creativity Coach.

Her site:

Book: Secrets from a Creativity Coach by Romney Nesbitt.

She trained with Eric Maisel and notes what inspired her to become a coach was reading his book Coaching the Artist Within.

His newest book is Secrets of a Creativity Coach.

Nesbitt refers to “self-chosen distractions” – Maisel comments in one of my articles:

“I’ve thought a lot about those special addictions that might be dubbed the distraction addictions, addictions like compulsive Internet surfing, online shopping, and video game playing that have sprung up alongside our technological advances.

“These new addictions are a lure for everybody, but they are especially alluring to folks like full-time writers who spend their working days on the computer a mere split second away from Internet access.

“If we are even minimally anxious, resistant, discouraged, uncertain or unmotivated and therefore eager to find some way to avoid getting on with our writing, how strong the pull is to distract ourselves with a beckoning, right-at-hand Internet possibility.”

From Distracting ourselves from creative work.

A related article: Eric Maisel on anxiety and developing creativity.

[The photo is from the movie “Saige Paints the Sky,” 2013. The Amazon summary for the DVD says: “Nine-year-old Saige, a talented artist with a passion for horses…is excited about the new school year, until she discovers that art – her favorite class – has been cut.”]


What’s Keeping You From Creative Work?

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2013). What’s Keeping You From Creative Work?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 12 Dec 2013
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