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Using "NO" as a way to creative success

Updated on May 14, 2015

Why are we afraid of saying NO?

The feeling of satisfaction you get when you write something of great value and you know you've written it well, is probably the greatest feeling a writer can experience. But getting to that feeling is the tricky part. You have to be bold and fearless, willing to be a conduit for the truth and just let it pour out of you. It's like entering an ecstatic state of mind, you get this feeling of flow, creative flow, and you can't stop, you mustn't stop, you know this is a fragile state and you just want to ride the wave of creative success. These are the moments we writers live for, no matter what you are doing when this flow state hits you, you must stop whatever your doing and start writing, because you never know if and when it's going to hit you next.

But these moments are getting scarce so we cling to the few we've had and hope that they will come to us when they come. But what is creativity and why is it so hard to get in the creative flow? There are a thousand answers to this question, and I'm sorry to say that most of them are complete nonsense. They offer no practical advice or explanation of the creative flow, because they themselves are afraid of the truth. The truth is rather simple, but very hard to implement, otherwise everyone would do it. To get into the flow state takes a lot of work, a lot of hours, not all the time, but to be consistently creative you have to be willing to sacrifice some of the time you would spend with friends, family or even sleep. There is no way around it, we have grown soft and addicted to distractions because the battle with the blank page is a difficult one, and to conquer it takes time. But the fear doesn't come in here. The fear comes in when we have to use our best tool for avoiding distractions, the tool that will get us all the time we need to spark the creativity needed to fuel our writing passion, and that tool is the simple two letter word "NO".

Every distraction is a welcome one when wrestling with the blank page, but if we want to get to job done, if we want to reach that creative peak, and start writing great content we have to start using "NO" more.

Ryan Holiday put it best when he wrote

"Great contributions come from taking the time to develop a deep understanding of everything at play and more often than not, coming up with gradual improvements and suggestions ."

To get an understanding of everything in play you need time, and time is something that we pawn off rather selflessly. Perhaps we need to be a little more selfish with our time. Our inner critique, our inner voice would have us believe that saying no to a night out would hurt our social status, or our friends feelings, or we would just waist our time in front of the computer and probably won't write anything of value, etc. But the truth is that this is just your fear talking. You need to identify it and say NO. I will not succumb to these petty distractions, my time is valuable and I will not let my fear decide how I spend it. Ignoring this inner voice is not the solution, it will just eat you up, you have to confront it and fight the good fight, as all of us do, because you know that in the end you will win, you have something to say, and if nothing else you will get in in writing.

This is pretty much all you need to do, not be afraid to say no to distractions and spend more time wrestling with the blank page, because writing is just like any other craft if you want to get good, if you want to be creative consistently it will take time and fearlessness.

And now I'll leave you with some guiding advice from Don Draper about creativity that has helped me a lot and I hope will help you too, and if you managed to free your time from distractions here's what to do next, as Don put it:

"Just think about it, deeply, and then forget it. An idea will... jump in your face."


If this got you interested, leave a reply in the comments and I'll write about it in the next post!

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