Why Perfectionism Kills Creativity – Part Three

Bird by Bird: Anne Lamott’s Timeless Advice on Writing and Why Perfectionism Kills Creativity

pt 1 bird by bird

Hope, as Chesterton said, is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate. Writing can be a pretty desperate endeavor, because it is about some of our deepest needs: our need to be visible, to be heard, our need to make sense of our lives, to wake up and grow and belong.

At the heart of writing, lies a capacity for quiet grit and a willingness to decondition the all too human tendency to get so overwhelmed by the enormity of the journey that we’re too paralyzed to take the first step.

pt 1 6 birds on a log in a row

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

Neil Gaiman famously advised, “Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.”

David Foster Wallace admonished, “If your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything.”

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.

[…]

pt 6 3 owls on a tree branch

Why Perfectionism Kills Creativity – Part Two

Bird by Bird: Anne Lamott’s Timeless Advice on Writing and Why Perfectionism Kills Creativity

pt 1 bird by bird

I tell my students that the odds of their getting published and of it bringing them financial security, peace of mind, and even joy are probably not that great. Ruin, hysteria, bad skin, unsightly tics, ugly financial problems, maybe; but probably not peace of mind. I tell them that I think they ought to write anyway.

pt 1 6 birds on a log in a row

My writer friends, and they are legion, do not go around beaming with quiet feelings of contentment. Most of them go around with haunted, abused, surprised looks on their faces, like lab dogs on whom very personal deodorant sprays have been tested.

But I also tell [my students] that sometimes when my writer friends are working, they feel better and more alive than they do at any other time. And sometimes when they are writing well, they feel that they are living up to something. It is as if the right words, the true words, are already inside them, and they just want to help them get out. Writing this way is a little like milking a cow: the milk is so rich and delicious, and the cow is so glad you did it.

Good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are.

[…]

pt 6 3 owls on a tree branch

Why Perfectionism Kills Creativity – Part One

Bird by Bird: Anne Lamott’s Timeless Advice on Writing and Why Perfectionism Kills Creativity

pt 1 bird by bird

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.”

One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around.

I started writing when I was seven or eight. I was very shy and strange-looking, loved reading above everything else, weighed about forty pounds at the time, and was so tense that I walked around with my shoulders up to my ears, like Richard Nixon. I saw a home movie once of a birthday party I went to in the first grade, with all these cute little boys and girls playing together like puppies, and all of a sudden I scuttled across the screen like Prufrock’s crab. I was very clearly the one who was going to grow up to be a serial killer, or

pt 1 6 birds on a log in a row

keep dozens and dozens of cats. Instead, I got funny. I got funny because boys, older boys I didn’t even know, would ride by on their bicycles and taunt me about my weird looks. Each time felt like a drive-by shooting. I think this is why I walked like Nixon: I think I was trying to plug my ears with my shoulders, but they wouldn’t quite reach. So first I got funny and then I started to write, although I did not always write funny things.

[…]

All I ever wanted was to belong, to wear that hat of belonging.

In seventh and eighth grades I still weighed about forty pounds. I was twelve years old and had been getting teased about my strange looks for most of my life. This is a difficult country to look too different in — the United States of Advertising, as Paul Krassner puts it — and if you are too skinny or too tall or dark or weird or short or frizzy or homely or poor or nearsighted, you get crucified. I did.

Writing is “…some sort of creative or spiritual or aesthetic way of seeing the world and organizing it in your head.”

“…the thrill of seeing oneself in print,” – highest form of existential validation.

I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all what it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do — the actual act of writing — turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.

[…]

pt 6 3 owls on a tree branch

George Saunders: On Story

George Saunders: On Story

Whether a writer or not this video presents the magic of storytelling from a masterful mind, explaining clearly what goes into creating the perfect sentence. How to break it down and improve the content of the story. It shows the writer how to get there. I listened to the video “On Story” several times and the lessons learned will raise any writers level of telling the story wanting to be told. It is an enlightening video with a simplicity, making it understandable for those who write and want to learn or improve their writing. I recommend to anyone who writes who wants to take their storytelling to a higher level; making it more enjoyable for the reader or those watching their work on the screen.

Find the time to watch the seven minutes. It will teach you to see the world of storytelling and sentence writing from a whole new perspective. It also teaches how to improve character development. Essential to a good story. If characters have no dimensions and are not believable, the reader or film viewer will turn away and never look back. There us so little time for most things in life, if you want to read a good book and watch a good film, then the writer needs to have a good sense of how to create the words to write the best story they are able to tell. This video will head the writer in the direction of discovering just what will improve any writers abilities to create a very special story. I was inspired. Hope you will be, too. – jk

George Saunders: On Story [RedGlass Pictures]

Rated…PG
Running Time…7m 14s
Genre…Educational, Storytelling, Instructive, Documentary
Speaker…George Saunders

In this rare appearance as a documentary subject, George Saunders reveals the pitfalls of bad storytelling and explains the openness and generosity required to breath life into great characters. The film offers a direct look at the process by which he is able to take a single mundane sentence and infuse it with the distinct blend of depth, compassion, and outright magic that are the trademarks of his most powerful work.

Situated in an innovative and dreamlike visual world set to a lush original soundtrack by Antfood music, the seven-minute film distills the magical essence of one of our most beloved writers into a work that will inspire old fans and Saunders newbies alike.
George Saunders: On Story is the second in the On Story short film series created by RedGlass Pictures (redglasspictures.com) .

Music by Antfood
Puppetry by Deborah Hertzberg
redglasspictures.com

Originally launched on the Atlantic.com
A Film by Tom Mason and Sarah Klein
Executive Produced by Ken Burns

Why Emotional Excess is Essential to Writing and Creativity

anais-nin photo

Why Emotional Excess is Essential to Writing and Creativity
– Anäis Nin

“Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.”

I like to live always at the beginnings of life, not at their end. We all lose some of our faith under the oppression of mad leaders, insane history, pathologic cruelties of daily life. I am by nature always beginning and believing and so I find your company more fruitful than that of, say, Edmund Wilson, who asserts his opinions, beliefs, and knowledge as the ultimate verity. Older people fall into rigid patterns. Curiosity, risk, exploration are forgotten by them. You have not yet discovered that you have a lot to give, and that the more you give the more riches you will find in yourself. It amazed me that you felt that each time you write a story you gave away one of your dreams and you felt the poorer for it. But then you have not thought that this dream is planted in others, others begin to live it too, it is shared, it is the beginning of friendship and love.

[…]

You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them. If it seems to you that I move in a world of certitudes, you, par contre, must benefit from the great privilege of youth, which is that you move in a world of mysteries. But both must be ruled by faith.

Live The Art of Your Life {Part 4 of 4}

Leave A Masterpiece – Part Four

painted heart

It boils down to trusting in your process no matter how it presents itself. Follow your intuition, for it is connected to all information outside space and time. If it checks out with your intuition (gut feeling), then send it to the heart to put it into your field of coherence. By mixing that information with your heart’s large, abundant electromagnetic field, you are supercharging it. Only use your mind if some left-brain tasks need to be handled as things unfold. Your analytical mind and its negative voice are essentially blind and impotent when attempting to see an entire situation or attempting to create. The mind is not meant to run your life or seek out inspiration. It’s only there to serve as a tool to accomplish tasks. It’s really that simple.

“All will be revealed my friend ” – Anthony Kedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Excerpt from an article from the Waking Times March 24, 2014 | By Jefferey Jaxen, Staff Writer

*********************

About the Author

Jefferey Jaxen is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com and an open source researcher and writer. In addition he serves as director of alternative & holistic health for the Awake & Empowered Expo. You can find his latest research, information, and work at the following websites: www.jeffereyjaxen.com and http://www.awakeandempoweredexpo.com/. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JeffereyJaxen or contact him directly at http://www.jeffereyjaxen.com/contact.html

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

Live The Art of Your Life {Part 3 of 4}

Leave A Masterpiece – Part Three

painted heart

So the question now leads to the idea of cultivating this pure human connection to all that is, was, and ever will be. Indeed, all information can be accessed from here. It is where the wellspring of creativity thrives. Of course, no one individual can see it all. Yet each, if open, will get what they need and want from such connection. The act of defining it would be to cheapen it. For example, how does one define love? There are the descriptions of the physical reactions such as increased heart rate, body temperature and respiration. Yet these would not compare in the slightest, or be able to describe to the unexperienced, what is truly happening since these are only attributes of increased physical activity. To truly connect, one first needs to have a knowing that shakes them loose from their current, purposely-limited belief system. Such a system is set upon dis-empowering individualism in the name of the collective. In its truest sense, the collective is important but, in this day and age, that idea has been hijacked and co-opted. Dr. Eric Pearl says it best in his book The Reconnection when he states that “we have difficulty understanding the concept that we are all one. If we were the true embodiment of that concept, there wouldn’t be any lessons to be experienced. The ego gives us the identity to experience the lesson in terms of a very specific viewpoint – ours.”

“You have to be a light to yourself in a world that is utterly becoming dark.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

Excerpt from an article from the Waking Times March 24, 2014 | By Jefferey Jaxen, Staff Writer

*********************

About the Author

Jefferey Jaxen is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com and an open source researcher and writer. In addition he serves as director of alternative & holistic health for the Awake & Empowered Expo. You can find his latest research, information, and work at the following websites: www.jeffereyjaxen.com and http://www.awakeandempoweredexpo.com/. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JeffereyJaxen or contact him directly at http://www.jeffereyjaxen.com/contact.html

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.