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Fear of the White Sheet: How to Tame Your Muse?

March 20, 2019
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When I was offered my first job in the newsroom in 2005, I replied that I cannot write on demand. You see, I said, the muse is coming to me whenever it feels like. I need an inspiration, I said. I need a space, I said. I need freedom, you know? My boss-to-be looked at me attentively and said: “Got you. We are still offering you this job, though.” “Ok,” I said thinking that everything would be just the way I thought it would be. Should I say how wrong I was? That’s how my journalism career started. The writer’s life started when I was 5.

Today I’d like to share with you the following: how to tame your muse? How can and should we write and draw and create with the deadlines? I’ll tell you about the tools that I’ve been using for quite a long time, and also will “kill” couple of myths that creative people are clinging too just like I was.

Deadlines help creative people to show their dedication for the work they do, which is impossible without some amount of discipline and reveal their responsibility level. When creative people say they cannot act with a gun pointed at their head (meaning “on time”), they are being slightly dishonest. They can meet the deadlines, they would love to do just that but they don’t know HOW. As simple as that.

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If you do not need to submit your project on time, too bad. There is a chance you’ll never finish what you’ve started. If this is your case, you can deal with this problem easily. All you need to do is come up with your own deadline, – easy-peasy. This rule saves me all the time.

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Writer’s work is not only a productive time spent on writing and finishing at least half of the chapter in one go. This is also time spent on less romantic stuff like buying the brushes, preparing the tools for painting, mulling over the ideas, etc. What is your creative process? Every single thing is a part of your working life, and it’s important to value it and to take it into consideration. I see a lot of times how writers and other creative fam representatives scold themselves for not writing a line even though they’ve been sitting at their computer for 3 hours trying to be productive. And they didn’t even notice that this time was very important for the creative process.

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To let yourself be in this emptiness means to give yourself permission to be a creative being. Masterpieces are born in that emptiness. If you are already “full” with something, it’s impossible to be filled with anything new. And being filled with new is just the way the muse works its magic. So don’t scold yourself in vain. The most important thing is that you showed up for your work. You took time to sit at your creation. Now let the masterpiece be born. Gestation period takes time. As Woody Allen said, the biggest part of the success is showing up. So show up at your job. Yes, creative process is a job. Those masterpieces that you are enjoying in the museum, bookstores and galleries were created during many hours of work and emptiness. The muse is a naughty little thing, it shows up only when it is wanted and expected.

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The next point I am calling the disease of a perfectionist. If you think that the first draft has to be perfect, you won’t make it. There is no such thing as perfection in general, and its standards vary from the angle, perspective, perception, epoch, taste, etc. In order to write one good article I had to write at least a hundred of poor ones. Does it mean that now my articles are the acme of perfection? Of course, not. They are definitely better, but I was lucky – I was never a perfectionist. “Good enough” works for me. So, before you make your first amazing drawing, you’ll have to finish several albums filled with poor ones.

So, don’t think that you are drawing the final draft. Just draw so that the fear of the white page goes out the window. Just write the first words that come to your mind. When I am writing an article, a chapter for my book or the next fairy-tale, first, I am just writing whatever comes to my mind. Sometimes it is just “blah-blah-blah.” And only in time the needed words start flowing onto the screen or paper, the words that have been hiding behind the veil of garbage.

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The fear of a white sheet is a fear of silence. How often do we switch on music, TV just in order not to end up on our own and silence the inner voice which sometimes overlaps everything – that’s how loud it can be? The best way of fighting this fear is facing it. I know you’ve heard it. But bear with me.

I’ve recently watched how Tony Robbins was sharing the episode with the billionaire Mark Benioff. It goes like this: Tony woke Mark up in the middle of the night and persuaded him to jump together into the raging river, and after the jump told him that it was full of poisonous snakes. Guess what, Mark had a phobia of snakes, and Tony knew it. Needless to say that after this accident Mark’s phobia is no more.

Under no circumstances I am advising you to try the same because you are not Tony Robbins. He knew what he was doing, he had experience AND confidence under his belt. But you don’t have to jump into the river with snakes anyways. All you need to do for now it to admit that there is a fear of silence, if it is there. Just like it is important for alcoholics to admit, as a first step, that they are alcoholics. Because this is the honesty that will save your life and will save your product.

How do you find out whether you have the fear or not? If you are refusing to believe of its existence, if you are constantly running away from it, it’s most definitely there. It doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you. On the contrary, it’s quite the usual thing among the creative ones. JK Rowling faced it, Salvador Dali faced it as well. In order to get rid of claustrophobia, I had to spend in a crowed subway all day long.

Look into the eye of your fear. In our case it is – look at your white sheet. Stay with it in the silence. Accept its existence. Breathe into it, literally.  Be grateful for its existence. Forgive yourself for shooing it away. You are not that person anymore. Sometimes this is all it takes to overcome and see this fear dissipate in front of your eyes. And who knows, maybe that will be the moment when the words of a genius will be revealed to you right there, right that moment. And you are a genius. I know that each and every one of us is a genius because I am doing Human Design and Gene Key Readings, and so far, I haven’t met exceptions to this rule.

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The next one I will say through Hemingway’s understanding that fitted my experience: It’s better to stop when everything goes well for you, and when you know what’s going to happen further in your creation. Then you will never feel stuck. Always stop when everything is going well, and don’t think about it until you start writing (drawing, creating) the next day. This way your subconscious mind will keep working on it. However, if you will be consciously thinking and worrying about it, your mind will get tired before you start your work.

I use this method quite often since I always work on several projects at a time (as a true Manifesting Generator). The work goes pretty much like this: I write the first draft of an article, put it aside and start recording the video for my Human Design online course. Then I take one of my articles that’s already been published and translate it into English in order to put it on my blog. Then I put it aside as well since after some time I need to look at it with a fresh eye and edit it. So, every time I go back to the place where I finished, I remember the feeling of anticipation, and I like it, it helps me. Try it out and see for yourself – there is nothing like your personal experience. It might be just the saving grace that you need.

Next time I will tell you about the writing awareness techniques which will definitely help you not only to come out of the creative crisis if you have it and get rid of the fear of the white sheet, but also will solve a lot of other problems. Many of these techniques I’ve already described in my book.