Creative work can be really freaking hard, and it’s really easy to get discouraged and feel like you can’t write.
Artist Becky Murphy Simpson shared a great post on her instagram, in which she said:
When I have creative block I just draw something that I know. I try to create an easy win so I’m excited to keep going and take on a bigger challenge
When I first read that, it blew my mind a little. A lot of times when I’m feeling down and generally un-creative, I feel like I have to forcibly push my way through. For the most part, it’s pretty exhausting.
Why should writing be hard?
I love what Becky proposes about creating a win for yourself, doing something you already know how to do as a way to empower yourself for the next steps and the bigger things. Sometimes writing feels impossible, but what if instead of focusing on the feeling that we can’t write or trying to conquer writer’s block by force we took a baby step and did some writing that feels easy?
It’s easy to take things that feel easy for granted. It’s so simple to tell ourselves that easy isn’t really productive. I find myself falling into that trap all the time, thinking that if it doesn’t feel hard then I must not be making enough of an effort. Which, when I step back, I know is absurd. Afterall, my favorite moments are the ones where I’m in the creative flow, where writing feel easy and effortless and infinite. How can I value flow and then tell myself that if it’s not difficult I’m not trying hard enough?
I don’t know about you, but I’m most vulnerable to telling myself things have to be hard after I’ve taken a creative blow.
After a creative loss
I think giving yourself an easy win is most important after you experience what feels like a loss. Whether that looks like getting an unfavorable response to something you’ve written or a project not coming together like you wanted, there can be a paralyzing sense of defeat. Even worse, that loss sometimes pairs up with negative self-talk disguised as motivation. “You could do it if you just worked harder, if you just tried more instead of giving up so easily. You can’t write because you’re not motivated enough.”
If your inner critic is anything like mine, it has a million ways to tell you that you should do better (the subtext of which is really that you’re not good enough). Once that loop gets going, it’s hard to break out of it. When I’m in that head space, whether I lay around and do nothing or manically attack my to-do list, I still come away feeling really shitty.
But those easy wins, doing something small like writing a journal entry or a low-pressure brainstorm, those can help pick you up and keep moving.
If you’re struggling with your creative work or feeling like you can’t write, I want to encourage you to give yourself some small, easy tasks to tackle to give yourself a confidence boost. Even if it feels so easy or so small that it couldn’t possibly “count” or be productive, do it anyway. Writing begets writing. When you start with something that feels easy, you build yourself up to do the things that feel hard.
I would love to hear what an easy win looks like to you. Leave a comment and we can chat about it.
Looking for more?
If you need a little help with finding that easy task to begin with and start building yourself up, you might want to check out my email course, 5 Days to Compelling Characters. Each day comes with a little guidance and a challenge for you to accomplish. I’ve designed the course to be super actionable and to start small and slowly build up. Perfect for when you’re building your writing confidence back up.
Interested? Sign up below.