Demons, Practice, and Keeping the Creative Faith

I feel like I'm plagued with demons. Most of them wear tutus, or rather "TooToo"s (hat tip to Ze Frank's Invocation for Beginnings on YouTube - go watch it again). Too Old. Too Disconnected. Too Unfinished. Too Difficult. Too Simple. Too Complex. Too Esoteric. Too Cumbersome To Use. Too Specific. Too General. Too Convoluted. Too Useless.

These demons serve me well when wearing my Editor Hat. Focusing the little bastards on something to knock off the rough corners and make a book better makes me think they're useful. And they are. But with great usefulness comes great possibility of abuse. They can poison an embryonic project in seconds.

Or Devils, as the case may be.
Demons have sharp edges, the backstabbing, lying little tools.

On Judging
Judging has its place in any project. Judging whether a project is worthy of even starting should happen as a single question near the beginning of the project, not as an ongoing process of second-guessing myself which stifles the project in a haze of "Why Bother?".

The demons have allies, insidious in their logic. Perceived lack of time delays a project, sometimes past the point of never getting started. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but discovering a game that does almost everything I was planning on designing really takes the wind out of my sails. Lack of experience can cause stillborn ideas, but how else do we gain experience and actually learn?

And yet, against all these negatives, we're driven to create.

Past the Wall
How do you get past the wall of "My work has no redeeming qualities", through the "Nobody will ever read this" quagmire, and into the land of "One negative comment can spiral my whole day into the crapper"? How do you keep donning that godlike cloak of creativity with the demons shouting in your ear? How do you harness the twin horses Inspiration and Perspiration and ride your chariot into uncharted territory?

Or one god. Blood and
Souls! Check out Jeff
Dee's D&D art remakes
I tend to focus on tiny things, on doing the work one instant at a time. One word. One page. One idea. String the words, ideas, and pages into one seemingly smooth effort, even if it's pockmarked with constant questions of self-doubt. Focus on the immediate work and not the questions that derail - you can ask those when you're done with the first draft.

Get the project in the can; let Editing and Marketing worry about whether or not it's any good, even if the Editing and Marketing departments contain only me. Those are hats for later. Push off questions until after. Outright denying the questions gets me in trouble, and the demons throw monkey wrenches into the factory.

Respect the Demons
I don't have to like them, but I need to accept them as part of myself or I'll never get anything done. I work with them so we both get what we want. Sometimes that means bribery. Sometimes that means letting them shut down the process for a while. But I will come back to the process and finish.

I'm struggling with unfinished projects. I think many of us are. I'm struggling with an internal voice that tells me I have no business even trying to do anything creative. I think many of us are. I also think most of us know how wrong that voice is even if its honeyed words make sense to a part of us.

Seen at world-building.com.
We have sparks and demons within us all the time. Sometimes mine fight each other so hard I'm exhausted before getting out of bed. Sometimes they don't even talk. Sometimes, a precious few times, both sides get excited by the same idea. In those heady, sunbeams-breaking-through-the-clouds moments they harmonize and produce the most wonderful creations. Those instants color the world in gold and rose, and they make the process instantly worth any effort.

I'm not sure I can control it. Heck, I'm not even sure anything I consciously try has any meaningful effect, but I still try. But maybe the willingness to try and to keep trying has more impact that actually accomplishing anything by trying.

Maybe that's the Heart of Faith and the Soul of Practice. Meditate on that and let me know what comes to you.

And now we continue the Creative Practice...


  1. Enjoy the journey and not the destination. Just like you aren't constantly checking to see how much further to the end of a good novel, you should stop trying to do that with stuff in life :)

    Lose yourself in the story of what you do and no matter what others say around you, it won't matter. Enjoyment comes from the doing more so then the end product, praise, or condemnation.

    But, that's just my .02

    Keep the Creative Faith, as from this perspective over here . . . you seem to really enjoy it and that is all that matters.

  2. I have felt the exact same way as you, and I think I've dealt with it the exact same way.

    It's a process, one that benefits from seeing it and making a choice...