Hi, lovely ones. Welcome to episode number nine. The evolution of my creative progress that is I can write a book without crying now. I think this is the most honest title that I could have come up with this episode. Because I basically just want to talk about how
I can create stuff now without ending up in the foetal position in the corner sobbing because yes if I’m honest that has happened before.
So, we’re going to talk about creativity and we’re going to talk about how it can be characterised by either warfare. Or it can be characterised by ease and flow. How do we get from one state to the other,
but before we do I really want to shout out Chai Queen, who left me this most beautiful review on the podcast last week. She says;
“I have loved listening to these podcasts. Dr. Rebecca You’re so full of love and covering all subjects real and true. You are a gem in my day. I thank you for speaking so calmly and lovingly about all things juicy and real.”
Thank you, Chai Queen. I’m just so grateful for the reviews. Lovely ones. Please know that if you leave a review, I go and read all of them and I’d love to shout you out if you do leave one. So thank you so much for your time, it means a lot to me.
So in this episode, let’s dive into creativity.
If you are someone who is or has wanted to put your work out into the world, then you probably know about a little thing called perfectionism.
And if perfectionism has been a bit of a battle for you, then I want to refer you to perhaps I don’t remember the episode number.
“Do you remember the episode number for perfectionism has a purpose?” I’m just here with my wife, Nyssa. She’s recording me right now. I think it might have been episode number three, “do you think two or three?”
So jump back to that episode if you want to dive into perfectionism in depth, but what I want to say is if you are working in any way to create something, even if it’s your side gig or your hobby, or a dream of yours to create something, then what perfectionism can do is very much show up to get in the way of you being able to create freely.
And it’s certainly been a pain in the ass in my own creativity process. And I wanted to talk about what’s happened over the last few years when I’ve been really challenged by being able to create on my own terms.
Now that might sound weird. You might think back, how on earth have you been challenged if you’re allowed to create on your own terms? Well, let me put it this way. When you go and write a thesis, so I had to write, as part of my professional doctorate, there’s quite a large thesis, we do some kind of data analysis, testing some kind of hypothesis, and then we write that data up into and the results of that data analysis up into a thesis.
Now, whenever you do anything academic like that, there are so many rules that you need to follow. There’s a certain type of writing style that you must follow. There are rules as to where commas and full stops go. There are rules for referencing. It’s very much a contained style of effort. There’s nothing creative about it.
You can’t even get creative with your results because they’re all based on just data. So it’s all following a particular style so that other people who were in academia can access your results. And they know that they know what to expect essentially. Now, since I’ve moved away from academia, and even moved away from clinical writing, as well, so, when you’re a psychologist in private practice, you have to take notes for every single session.
I’m not even in private practice, but every time you have contact with a client, there is notes that accompany that contact. Even those notes are written in a certain style. Reports are written in a certain style letters back to GPS and doctors are written in a certain style. So there was really no creativity in my previous psychological practice.
Now that I’m in a place where writing is essentially my job, whether it’s writing something for free for you and Instagram caption or a particular download that I think might be helpful for you or whatever writing a script for a podcast, or more importantly, an entire book.
That is all on my own terms. It’s all up to me now.
So there are no rules to follow. Sounds great, right? Yeah, really great. Unless you’ve got a really loud inner critic like I do.
It sounds really great and really freeing. Unless you’re inner critic shows up like mine does.
Who do you think you are to write a book?
And by the way, how on earth does one write a book?
It’s really annoying when your publisher says, I don’t care beck, I trust you. You just come up with something that you think will work or where are the rules, dammit.
Give me some guidelines. And so what can happen when you’re in that place is
perfectionism can wrap its hands around your throat and attempt to strangle the life out of you
In terms of being able to create freely. Now I want to take you back to my happy habits days, which was when I used a brand to hide behind instead of showing up as my authentic self. I was so scared about how my work would be received that I simply continued writing in my kind of academic kind of formal style to create that programme, and I created it behind the brand of happy habits.
And so it was all kind of felt really rigid. I’m not going to say that it was bad, because I actually totally believe in the techniques that I was teaching in that course. They are incredibly helpful techniques on positive psychology.
But the thing was, there was none of me in it, so to speak. I was just staying safe in terms of my creativity. Until one day I got offered a publishing deal with a publisher who wanted me to write a book based on happy habits. Now that’s all well and good, you know?
The kind of child within me that was dreaming of writing a book just cried for joy.
When that happened, I was so incredibly excited. But when it came time to sitting down and actually writing the book, guess what happened? I couldn’t write a word until I made the decision that nobody would read it.
I don’t know why I decided that but I just did. I made this decision that nobody would read, you know, a small book was a gift book called be happy. I didn’t even get a chance to choose the title. I don’t like the title be happy, by the way, because
I don’t actually believe that we can just choose to be happy. I don’t it’s not consistent with what I believe about our emotions
But publishers are very interested in how to make books shift off shelves, and to sell well. So my publisher chose the title. “Be happy 35 powerful methods for personal growth and well being” and I thought nobody’s going to read this book.
And guess what? Once I decided that I was like, Okay, well, it doesn’t really matter what I write because for some reason,
I didn’t think that I was good enough
to write something that would sell well. And so I wrote the book without too much struggle, because I was convinced that there would be no audience for it.
And then there was, oh, who knew? Who knew that I could write something that would actually sell and be happy has sold and what happened was once that book started being messaged to me, it’s still messaged to me, I get almost daily, somebody will tag me in a picture of my book somewhere sitting on their bookshelf.
And as this was happening after its release, and I was looking at collaborating with a publisher in Australia, on my second and third books, I started to get strangled.
Because I thought, oh my goodness, there are people out there that have now read my first book, and have expectations for my second book. Now, I need to be real.
I’m not Rene Brown or Liz Gilbert. Let’s Get Real, right?
We’re not talking about books that are New York Times bestsellers. But just the thought that there were people out there that might read when I was going to write this second time, this second book was enough to stifle my creativity and create a war. So let me set the scene for you.
With book number two,
That’s the universal sins to brave. I was writing that manuscript just after I gave birth to our son. So I was writing this manuscript around the time that Bennett experience something called a four month sleep regression.
Now, prior to that had been a pretty good sleeper. I had no idea that there was ever such a thing as a four month sleep regression, who knew but what happened was he started waking up seven times a night. And so I was getting hardly any sleep. And on top of that I had a manuscript due on a certain deadline for my publisher.
Now, it’s not like I didn’t have enough time to write. I mean, yes, caring for a newborn is really demanding. But what happened was when I should have been writing.
I was tearing myself to pieces internally about not being able to write well enough. So rather than just writing a shitty first draft, as Anne Lamott would call it, I didn’t write anything.
And when you don’t write anything, what happens in the publishing world is you end up backing yourself into a corner against a deadline, where something has to be written. And I experienced because perfectionism had gotten me so stuck and had allowed me to write absolutely nothing.
I ended up with very little time to be able to produce this manuscript and so that time that I spent finally writing, I actually also spent crying a lot of the time, to the point where I almost sent an email to my publisher, and told her I wasn’t going to be able to complete what she wanted for the contract. And that we should part ways because I didn’t want to let her down.
Now, if that sounds dramatic, it was because when you’re hormonal after you’ve just had a baby, and you’re leaking, because you’re breastfeeding, and everything is uncomfortable and everything hurts because you’re constantly carrying a little baby around. And when you’re not sleeping, life is dramatic. There is no other way to put it.
It was a very dramatic time while I was writing something that I cared very much about
But didn’t think I was going to be able to do a good enough job. So what happened was, I sent off that manuscript on the Friday afternoon at 5pm at the deadline, saying that I basically apologised for the manuscript that I was sending in the evening. I’m expecting that I would get an email back on Monday from my publisher saying Thanks, but no thanks, we didn’t realise that you were so crap.
Now, that didn’t happen. Surprisingly, because
Let’s be really honest about that. Perfectionism is a big fat liar. And so what happened was I actually got an email back on Sunday from my publisher saying, oh, my goodness, this is everything that I hoped for, and more. And when I got that email, I cried again, but out of relief. That’s because of the level of warfare that was going on internally telling me that I wasn’t good enough.
At no point did I enjoy writing that particular book, because of how difficult I made the process by giving perfectionism a platform. Now, let’s go to the Number three, book number three, was written about six months later called the art of self-kindness. And the Universalist enterprise and the art of self kindness are in the same format. So it’s not like I didn’t know what I was doing.
Now, I’m proud to say that my evolution was I didn’t cry when I wrote it myself goodness like, go make congratulations to me. But perfectionism still had enough of a platform to convince me that it wasn’t my best work. By the time I sent that manuscript in, I still very much believed that I was sending in something that was substandard. I’d read the book chapter by chapter to my wife, and she had assured me that it was great, but I thought she was just saying that because she loved me.
Apparently, she wasn’t lying. Perfectionism lies. She doesn’t, because once I send that manuscript in, I got an email back from my editor. saying that this was the book she had hoped I would write because she needed to hear those words for herself.
And what that started me thinking:
is how much am I creating this battle within by feeding it and giving it energy?
And therefore, how much am I influencing my creative process to be a negative experience?
When if I just made a different choice?
How might I show up differently when it came to create?
And one that was really important to me because my publisher wanted me to write another book and bigger book. And I had other things that I wanted to create for you a whole other course I even have another course that I haven’t spoken about yet.
I have this podcast. I wanted to create and on top of that we’re talking about also a bigger self help book. How on earth do you create? If you end up crying in the foetal position in the corner every time? Well, the answer is you don’t. Or if you do, it’s incredibly painful and you’re only going to damage your spirit while you do.
So I had to do it differently.
And so when it came to creating this year, I think I used this like the turn of a new year, or at least the turn of a project. Finishing one manuscript and then moving to pitching a new idea and a new manuscript and starting on that manuscript. I’ve consciously decided to do it differently, to come from a place where it doesn’t have to be a fight.
What would creativity be if I came from a place of ease and flow?
What would my process be if I was actually patient with myself?
What if I had integrity during the process?
If I was struggling, I just spoke up about that.
I actually did that just last month? maybe a month before, I don’t even know what month we’re thanks to COVID. Keeping track of days is hard. But when COVID first struck us nyssa and I took Bennet out of daycare, so he was home all the time. And it was really difficult to get space to write. And so what I did was actually contact my publisher and say, I’m going to have nothing to show you for this period of time. But it will get done
And she was absolutely fine with that. And what that freed me to be able to do is to do it in my own time, because I’d already communicated with integrity, about when it would and wouldn’t be done. What would my creative process be like if I asked for help? This is something new for me as well.
I no longer do all the things and I refuse to. Because if I did all the things in my business, there is no way I could retain the majority of mental energy that I hold and emotional energy for creating. Because it’s a really emotional and mental process.
For me. There is so much of my heart that goes into what I create, that I don’t have a whole lot left over for all the little tiny business processes that must be done in order to have a healthy business. But I also started doing is actually just believing in my work. I started to believe you.
You know, I get the most beautiful messages and emails regularly weekly, daily sometimes. And I just started to go.
What would it be like if I just believed these words and use them as my foundation to trust that the work that I was creating would meet the people that it was meant to meet?
What would happen if I just trusted that when I sat down to write the ideas would come rather than panicking about whether today would be a good writing day or not? What would happen if I didn’t put pressure on myself about the timeframe?
If I made space,
both a practical space that lit me up and gave me energy and relaxed me,
as well as time space, rather than pushing myself against a deadline
And what would happen if I just allowed myself to show up to my desk, but not force it?
And you know what’s happened?
writing, actually pretty enjoyable.
You, not me, not me as a writer whose job it is now, to write stuff. I’ve actually discovered that I can do it in a way That comes from a place of abundance rather than a place of force and passion. That doesn’t mean that perfectionism doesn’t try and have a say. And there are some days that I walk away and go, I just wrote a couple of pages, they’ll end up deleting.
But I also know that without those couple of pages, I won’t get to the other couple of pages that will be written after those that are actually really good.
The evolution of my creative process has been to learn more of myself, to learn what I need to be able to show up in such a way that I’m not depleting myself by creating but instead, I’m creating from a place that fits for me, so that you receive the best of me and I don’t end up emotionally wrung out as a result of the process. And all of this is just based on conscious awareness.
Rather than coming from a place of fear,
which is everything that perfectionism is about. In a place of unworthiness, which is the root of perfectionism. Instead, I come from a place of trust, and patience, and ease and flow.
And I want to encourage you to allow yourself to create without the inner warfare as well lovely once I’ve got a free five day challenge called done is better than perfect. And I would love you to jump on it if perfectionism has been attempting to strangle you.
In the challenge, you’ll receive audio guidance and a worksheet each day via email for five days to be able to get your thing done without the Battle of beating up on yourself, and I would love you to try it.
If this episode has resonated with you and you want to start your challenge with accepting that done is better than perfect and beating perfectionism. Then I’ve created the perfect 5 day challenge to help you. You can get your free copy here.
Thank you so much for listening to Hello, Rebecca Ray. If you got something meaningful from this episode, the most meaningful thing you can do is to leave a review wherever you listen to your podcast, because it’s these reviews that help this podcast stay here.
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**This transcript is taken from our software and sometimes it’s not perfect, thank you for understanding.
Done is better than perfect:
5 Day ‘done is better than perfect’ challenge!
If you need help encourage you to allow yourself to create without the inner warfare, and to be able to get your thing done without the battle of beating up on yourself. Then I’ve created this FREE 5 day challenge just for you. You can sign up for your copy here.