When You Can’t Create

December 20, 2009

Sometimes in life it isn’t blocks or procrastination or fear of success that keeps you from your creative work. Sometimes the world intervenes and because you are physically unable, or charged with the care of someone else, or trapped in an office with a terrifying deadline, you just can’t do it.

That’s where I am right now – I’ve fractured my right shoulder and until a couple of days ago was in too much pain and too out of it to do even what I am doing now, which is typing this slowly with just my left hand. And not being able to write is almost harder for me than not being able to pull a shirt over my head or have to ask someone else to cut up my Thanksgiving turkey. Not being able to write is like not being able to breathe.

Perhaps the hardest thing in these situations is being kind to yourself about your inability to perform. I find myself giving myself these little lectures about people in far worse situations who, for instance, scratch philosophical tomes into the stone walls of their prison cells with a sharpened spoon. It’s hard to listen to the doctors who say – rest, medication, and in time, physical therapy. I know that in two months I’ll be mostly back to normal, able to work again, write again, think clearly.

And in the meantime, I’ll have to settle for being a reader more than a writer, to try and think some projects through, and just do a little left-handed typing when I have the energy and patience. I get to spend some time talking to my esteemed collaborators – all of whom have wonderful ideas. I get to watch daytime TV and understand America a little better. And I get a chance to practice being a little kinder to myself when I simply can’t write.

Trust Yourself

December 14, 2009

While talking tonight with Gail, our coaching client, (  who has given me permission to blog about what she has shared),   she was  reporting how much she valued going to the writing conference that she attended in November at the 92nd Street Y.  I felt amazed at the conversation because it was only a few short months ago that Deborah and I started to coach her.  The single most striking aspect of what she talked about was her challenge of wanting to transform herself from a  school teacher to a writer and how hard it was for her to do that in light of her significant self-doubt.  However she certainly surprised me when she quickly in spite of her fears  found out about  this conference, signed up and eagerly attended.

She was telling me tonight how much this conference increased her confidence. She very much appreciated  the message she heard there about how “You don’t have to be anything to be a writer”. “Anybody can be a writer.”   This was in stark contrast to messages she received from others who consistently reminded her that she was no Shakespeare.   Messages that not only momentarily stopped her in her tracks but affirmed her worst fears.  As she described tonight the slightest obstacle can  influence her to get  discouraged.  But as we talked further, she ended up sharing with me a wonderful and inspiring story from the conference.   One of the  editors at the conference said that a woman she knew

had written a book about a man who owned  shoe stores across the country.,  It was a book meant for teens and was to describe the adventures that went along with opening up the shoe stores. She read this to her  writer’s group and was told to get rid of the shoe stores as her central idea.  Well instead of listening to her group, she got rid of the group.  She then went on to write a bestseller.  So this is a striking example  of the value of  trusting your own instincts.