Years ago, I was writing a political novel. And certain scenes were excruciating to write. I was so bored I had to force myself to write them. As I wrote, I felt incredibly sorry for my MFA classmates who would be reading it. “Wow,” I thought. “This is so boring and awful for me to write–these poor people who have to read it!”
And then suddenly I had a huge realization: I was writing a book I THOUGHT I should want to read (a thoughtful literary and political novel), not a book I would ACTUALLY want to read.
The thing is, it’s very easy to fall into this trap. All through our culture, there are signs telling us what’s “good.” Critics’ reviews. Best seller lists. Awards. Commentators on shows. Teachers and professors. People whose opinion we respect.
If a book or film, exhibition or performance is critically well-received or wildly popular, there’s a chance you will actually enjoy it. So it’s easy to just categorize it as “good” without thinking too much.
Sometimes that transfers over into our own creative work. We start making something, and we try to make it good, while unconsciously basing our standards on what other people have said.
The real question I should have asked was not “Is this good?” but “Am I writing the book I’ve been unconsciously searching for every time I go into a bookstore?”
The perfect book… the book that would pull me in with its story, fascinate me with its characters, transport me with its observations, move me with its scenes. The book I was longing for.
So that is the book I began to write. I followed my desires, and a magical realist plotline emerged, interweaving with my original political novel. And I was enthralled as I wrote, channeling inspiration and wonder, amazed with what I was creating and the experience of creating it.
This is the question: “Are you creating something you’ve been searching and longing for?”
If you’re not, then chances are, you’re creating something based on someone else’s expectations. That’s not a terrible thing: the world is full of perfectly enjoyable copycat work (think of all those money-making sequels and remakes).
But, powerful original work can only come from YOU. Your soul, your quirks, your experiences and wounds and desires. Your creative longing.
Write the book you’ve been dying to read. The film you’ve been aching to find. Make the art you wish you could see.
These are the unexpected bestsellers that change the landscape–the critical successes everyone else will copy for years.
So if you want to do your truest, best creative work–and love the experience of doing it– follow your unmet desire: Do the creative work you’ve been longing to find.
P.S. I’ve put together a program designed to help you do your TRUE creative work and finally go for the CREATIVE SUCCESS you’ve been longing for. You’ll move past your blocks… uncover your truest, best creative work… and DO the creative work you’ve been longing to do. (And, you’ll also discover the unseen opportunities already in your world so you can take a dramatic leap in your creative career.)
This is a high-level program for ambitious creative people who are ready for big results. If that’s you, email me and let’s talk.