How to kill creativity with one word … DEADLINE

When I started my blog in March 2016, I went “Yeah! I’m going to publish one blog post a month, and do a painting to go with each post. I’m going to be so productive, I’m going to be a painting-blog-post-writing machine!!”¬†… and then life happened. Fear happened. Procrastination, chores, bills and self-doubt happened.

And I missed my deadline. Month, after month, after month.

It’s now¬†January 2019 and I’ve published a total of 6 blog posts (including this one). Not quite the one a month I had carefully planned. If I had said to myself “Yeah! I’m going to do one blog post a year!” I would have nailed the shit out of my goal. I would have almost DOUBLED my goal.

It’s all about expectations, and I was the only one putting the pressure on. No one else cares if I publish a blog post. I had failed only myself and my own self-determined standards.

I’ve heard the saying “You are your own worst enemy” so many times, but it never really sunk in. Until recently, when I heard it rephrased “Look in the mirror if you want to see your worst enemy … and your greatest friend.” For some reason this resonated with me. I’ve learnt so much since publishing my first blog post, mainly about myself, what motivates me, and more importantly – what stops me dead in my tracks.

Here are some of the things that motivate me:

  • Lists of what I have to do – with no deadlines.
  • Goals – with no deadlines.
  • Receiving positive feedback – even if it is from myself.
  • Freedom to do what I want, when I’m in the mood for it. If I have a spark of inspiration – I want to have the time and space to run with it!
  • The unknown. I find the unknown exciting and enticing.
  • Music! Putting on my favourite songs puts me in a creative, happy mood – 98.7% of the time.

And here, my friends is what viciously kills my motivation and dries up any creative juice I may have left:

  • Lists of what I have to do – with deadlines.
  • Goals – with deadlines.
  • Pressure, even self inflicted pressure of setting myself rigid deadlines.
  • Feeling stuck or trapped.
  • Fear of creating something people don’t like.
  • Eating poorly.
  • Not exercising or getting any fresh air.

So it appears that my second worst enemy, after myself, are my many self-inflicted deadlines. This year I am making an effort to write lists of everything I need to do, and when I have spare time I have a look and choose something I feel like doing. So far it’s been working well. I’ve spent the last week dreading making jewellery, yet today I felt really motivated and spent over 3 hours doing it. And I’m really happy with the result. Bonus!!

I have finally realised that I am in control of my life, and life is not a race. So why not give myself a break and enjoy it? Right now I’m feeling motivated to pour a glass of wine and sit in the sun. It’s not on my list of things to do – but I think I’ll do it anyway …