One of the most common refrains I hear out on the street is this one:
“You know, I’ve always thought about writing a novel but I’m not really that creative of a person so…”
These poor would-be authors trail off into a CLOUD OF UNCERTAINTY AND DOUBT. (And yes, I walk down strange streets where spurned writers congregate and lament their fate. How else do you think I write this blog???).
These writers worry they won’t have enough ideas.
They worry they won’t be original.
They worry no one will want to read what they have to write.
Most importantly, they worry they are not the “creative type.”
Trust me, I know. I used to be one of them.
I spent six years telling myself I was not a creative type. Six years!!
When I was in college, I was highly encouraged to be a creative person by the very creative author Vikram Seth. But despite this, I lost the belief in my power of creativity. When I graduated and got a job, I prided myself on being the rare publishing employee who wasn’t secretly working on a novel.
But mostly: I talked myself out of my own creativity. I wasn’t a creative type. I was relatively responsible, had a day job, did not go on hedonistic binges, did not spout wild nonsequitors, did not do drugs… therefore I wasn’t creative.
Gradually, I tiptoed toward believing I was a creative person. I started working on a screenplay and it was a finalist for some award and I started believing a little bit. Then I wrote two novels without telling anyone. WITHOUT TELLING ANYONE. I was so unbelieving that I thought my creativity would combust if my activities were exposed to the light.
It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I finally started believing. I started writing this blog, I started my Jacob Wonderbar novels, I started actually creating things that I found meaningful.
But before all that… I spent six years talking myself out of it. What a waste of time!! I kick myself when I think of what I could have accomplished in those six years if I had just believed.
Please learn from my mistakes. There is no such thing as a creative type. Everyone has the power to create works that have meaning.
And just as I’m immensely grateful to Vikram Seth for believing in me, one of the greatest gifts you can give another person is to share your own belief in the power of their creativity. Just reach out to them to encourage them, or send them this post if they don’t believe you for whatever reason (also what did you do to them can we talk about it).
Don’t let doubt stop you from creating. Just get going.
I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and consultations! And if you like this post, check out my guide to writing a novel.
Art: Kellar: self decapitation, magician poster by Strobridge Lithograph Co.