Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I Ponder... Wednesdays: What Deflates Your Creative Balloon?

I cannot believe it's already Wednesday, and then again, I can't believe it's only Wednesday. This last week has been filled with so many ups and downs, I do not believe that even the most dangerous, terrifying, or insane roller coaster on the planet can even compete. All in all, we had some really bad news sucker punch our family in the gut on the very same day I found out that I had gotten published. It made Friday, March 23, 2012 feel like it was a two-month period in the mere 12 hours the sun was in the sky.

When I have a lot happen at once, I tend to stand firm. I stay strong for those around me who might otherwise not be able to continue to walk. It's my natural defense mechanism. My one of many, really. But while I stay strong on the outside, my insides are constantly trying to figure out my next move. Always the ponderer, I lay all my "what-ifs" on the table, and I solve them one by one with the most viable answer I can come up with. Survival instinct? Maybe. Crazy lady syndrome? Most assuredly! I can't even imagine the facial expressions people catch me with when I'm lost in thought!

I ponder... I calculate... I plan.

There's only one problem. There is ALWAYS someone lurking in a deep, dark corner looking to destroy your plans. And when it comes to creativity, that Defeat Monster is the worst. For me, what really gets me down is doubt. Anytime someone (or even my own self) doubts what it is that I am doing, I feel like, well... an idiot. I tend to assume that the whole wide world knows more about life than I do. Almost as though I am perpetually 10 years old. What's the sad truth? I feel that way even when it comes to my OWN ideas and creative juices! Like, the ones that need NO ONE else's opinion! Doubt... It's an awful, terrible enemy of Bethany's.


So, my question for this week:

What deflates YOUR creative balloon,
and what do you do to inflate it again?




I don't want this to get dark and depressing, so please share how you stay on track, too.

As for me? I simply turn off my computer, pray, and REALLY sit with my boys and play. I wrestle. I fight with the ever growing amount of lightsabers and wear the Star Wars costumes we now have in abundance. I bring back... Me.
And eventually, the Defeat Monster moves on. 

36 comments:

  1. I suspect my biggest deflator is comparison... Reading about others being more prolific, more creative, more whatever!! I start to think I should be more in vocal in my self promotion.... But, then I return to the truth that I can only be true to my own goals and growth and personality, and I let go of the comparison-monster one more time and return to the peace of following my own unique path!

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    1. Comparison is a bad one, indeed. That one gets me from time to time. But the greatest thing we have (that ONLY we have) is the fact that there is NO ONE in the world who thinks/creates the exact same way. To quote the great Dr.- "There is no one alive who is Youer than YOU!"

      I really try to live by that! Thanks, Joanna!!

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    2. I think comparison is my greatest struggle, too. Thanks for stating it so well Joanna, and thanks for another thought provoking post Bethany. I was so excited to hear that your e-book was picked for publication. YAY! I wish all the best for your family.

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  2. Like Joanna says, my biggest Boogey Man is my own self. I will start to think about all the reasons that my dream of being an author and illustrator are so unlikely. When you go down that slippery slope it generally ends up in tears or a bucket of chocolate ice-cream!

    Thank goodness I've gotten to a point in my life where I recognise the thought-pattern and I can see myself putting on the Eeyore costume. Now that I can see it, it's easier to stop the whole cycle and do those things I know get me back on track. We all do this and it's part of the process, the trick is not to STAY stuck - have a doubtful moment and then keep walking...

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    1. Gah... The elusive Eeyore! SUCH a great picture to come to mind. You are 100% right when you say the trick is not to STAY stuck. Can you imagine? What would your life be like if you gave up on every single thing that became difficult? Yikes.

      Thank you for sharing, Helga!

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  3. I need to learn to not be deflated by others' opinions! I think receiving others' thoughts is a part of this industry and while I love positive feedback, I tend to be super sensitive to negative opinions. They will always be there, so I am just trying to develop a thicker skin!:)

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    1. Yes... Another hard one to learn to live with. I wrote about that not too long ago. Part of having a GREAT critique group/partner is having feedback that is good AND honest. It'd be a whole lot easier if everyone just said we were great all the time! But then, we wouldn't grow.

      Thicker skin it is! Thanks, Elizabeth!!

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  4. I agree with Joanna. "Comparison is the thief of joy." -Theodore Roosevelt. This is where I struggle sometimes with facebook. I love feeling connected, feeling part of a community. But sometimes, if I let it, it can steal my joy. So what do I do? STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER! Unplug for a while. And like you, I pray, and I spend time with my family. And I try to return to living in the truth that we are all "wonderfully made."

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    1. Absolutely!!! Isn't it funny? You might feel that way about people on Facebook, but THEY might be ON Facebook because they absolutely cannot get over the fact that their writing can't compare to YOURS. Vicious cycle we humans put ourselves in, no?

      Great that you unplug! I encourage that to everyone who is struggling. Thank you, Amy!

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  5. Agree with you all! The self-confidence balloon must be constructed with steel! We need to think like the third and clever pig! And the more we create, the stronger the structure! What pops my balloon is interruption. Today is gorgeous, kids finally both rode their bikes so I didn't have to drive. First one gone but 10 minutes before he calls to have me bring him the lock he forgot! If only he didn't have to take a test that first period! (And we had not had a bike stolen from the yard last September!) So now I'm back, and even though my revision was sent back from RYS with the same score, I forge on! Sure does wonders feeling we are all in this together!

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    1. Ooooh! Interruption! Yikes... And yet, oh so familiar! Great one, Julie, and way to keep going despite the madness. I get distracted, and lose my "oomph". It's quite annoying!

      Thanks, Julie!!

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  6. Oh my you have hit on a subject close to my heart here. I think at one time or another I have dealt with each of the "defeaters" you mention. I, having come to picture book writing later in life, believe everyone, EVERYONE knows more than me. I don't have confidence in my own voice. I don't trust....me! I take all the suggestions and advice to heart...all of it, even if it doesn't ring true in my soul, then all of a sudden, I have a big mess. I am learning to trust my voice and to give my opinion some credit. It's hard. Rejection is another boogey man. But having a "plan B," helps there. And, like Julie, interruption is another yuk. I'm working to turn off the internet and cut off the phone for one good hour. It's amazing how much one can do in one hour of real work time!

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    1. Do NOT, under any circumstances, allow yourself to believe your OWN lies! You have your own unique style, and you must stay true to it! And just because you came to something "later in life" that doesn't mean you are any less knowledeable! I actually have the opposite problem... Everyone tends to be older than me, so I worry I don't know *enough*! Sounds silly, right?

      Go to your quiet space, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and write the fist sentence that comes to mind (if you really want to be extreme, keep your eyes closed while writing it!). Whatever you come up with will be YOU. And it will be PERECT!

      Thanks for your input, Sharon!

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  7. Comparison and doubt are both biggies for me. Generally I just try to soldier on - I wish I had better advice - for you and me - because sometimes I think there must be a better way! I agree with Julie too - the community we are all part of is wonderfully supportive and a great resource. I'm worried about your bad news. I hope your son is OK.

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    1. Thank you, Susanna. God is in control, so Renn will be fine. It's just an adjustment...

      I think comparison and doubt are the biggest bullies. Period! They seem to get the best of us... And yet, we all encourage one another to NOT fall victim! Catch-22, much? ;)

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  8. Playing with the kids is a wonderful way to defeat that pesky monster.

    So, what deflates my balloon??? I'd have to say nobody but me. I do it when I start comparing myself to other writers. I know, that's a bad thing to do!! lol, but then I'll remind myself to enjoy the whole writing process and stop being in a rush! After that I go visit the library with the girls, and stop for a cup of joe! That's the end of that monster :)

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    1. I'm picturing an drawing of you wearing a super hero type suit, holding up the biggest cup of coffee EVER with a monster running away out of fear. I love it!!

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    2. Haha, that's funny!

      I just grabbed you awesome badge!! Love it. Your banner is so eye catching. She did a wonderful job. I'm a new fan of hers. :)

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    3. Talk about being on top of things! You're AHEAD of things! I'm introducing it all tomorrow! You're the absolute best!!

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  9. Sorry things were difficult for you...yes, life is indeed a roller coaster! When I have a down day, I know for a fact that it won't stay that way forever. Something or someone always comes along to bring me up out of my doldrums. So I hang on, and get through the day, breathing a quick prayer and know that 'all things will work together for good" in the end. That verse, from Romans 8 and verse 8 has kept me going, and in a thankful spirit numerous times!

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    1. Perfect, as always! I agree... It doesn't last forever, and once we get through it there's a sense of accomplishment! We end up getting even MORE done, don't we? Interesting...

      Thanks for sharing!!

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  10. Sorry about the bad news. Happy for the good news. I think comparison zaps me more than anything. I try not to do it, but it happens. I do tune out a lot of stuff, because it's a lack of time factor. Good luck and here's to more time to "really" sit and play with our families, with our stories and with our lives.

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  11. What a great post. Sometimes I feel so alone and that is a major DEFEAT BALLOON and the big one is COMPARISON. Ohhhh to stay true to our own paths and unique gifts and just stick to it until those dreams do come true. Thank you for sharing this great post.

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    1. You are NEVER alone!! Thanks for sharing!!

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  12. My balloon deflater is having the people around me not believe in me. My husband and I have a deal. He reads all my stuff and gives some feedback but never any real criticism because every writer needs one person in their corner. Sometimes when a scene isn't working I get down on myself. More than once my husband has had to convince me not to throw my manuscript in the trash. Usually his encouragement helps me get back on track and figure out how to the fix the scene. Sometimes I turn to my favourite authors because they inspire me to write. J. K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer wrote fantastic books, but they too had to start somewhere. They didn't just wake up one day and BAM became a brilliant writer. They had help from friends, family, and editors. They put in the time. I guarantee they had countless crappy drafts as that is how writing works.

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    1. Bravo! It sure feels like Ms. Rowling and Ms. Meyer just "woke-up" with fantastic mannys (yes, I call manuscripts mannys. The secret is out!). I always wonder how they handled their bad moments, but it really DOES take me sternly focusing on the fact that they did, indeed, have them!

      Thanks, Rena!

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  13. My biggest deflater is fear of negative comments or disapproval. I have gotten better facing this deflater since joining a writing critique group. To overcome this deflater, I usually talk to my wife. She is a very confident person by nature and very strong. She pushes me to just "go for it"!

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    1. Yay for good, strng, ENCOURAGING spouses! I'm very lucky to have one myself. I have met a few writers along the way who don't have one. In fact, they have quite the opposite. Seems so devastating!

      Negative comments or disapproval... Ugh. They're the worst! Thanks, Eric!

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  14. Not sure if you saw this but I think it's so relevant to this conversation, have a look if you get a chance - http://youtu.be/4v2O3Cc_q0Q

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  15. Oh, comparison and the nit picky negative voice it triggers in my head. When I am breathless from the beautiful story or incredible art of a just right picture book, that's hard. It feels like I will never be able to produce something so amazing. At those times, I need to stop reading and looking for a little bit so that I can reconnect with my inner passion and drive.

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    1. Great idea, Heather! Thanks for stopping by!

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  16. Time. I've been jokingly saying for years that if I could only clone myself I'd be so much more productive. I'd have twice the amount of time, right? We can't create time, make time, or take time back. It's there and it's moving. Forward. When the creativity is flowing, sometimes I run out of time; this usually means picking up a child, doing home work, making dinner, all of those other important things. But, then Time surprises me too. Occasionally I get more time than I thought. The house is quiet, the kids are behaving, it's Friday and I order pizza for dinner, or I take the time to read before bed. That Time restores my creativity.
    A2ZMommy and What’s In Between

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    1. Ahhh... TIME! That's a great monster. I can relate, Tracy!

      It's just one of those things we must learn to deal with; We can't fit EVERYTHING into one day!

      Thank you for sharing!

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  17. Wow, hard questions. I am in the longest writing rut of my career. I've been focused on promotion and I have been completely unable to start any new projects for months. I feel like I may never write again. But... I know, in time, my muse will come back to me. Creativity ebbs and flows. I just have to have faith that it will return.

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    1. Corey! So glad to have you here! Yes, your creativity is STILL there, underneath the piles of other things you throw on top of it. Promoting is like the oil to creativity's water. They can both sit inside the same measuring cup, but they'll always be separate!

      Thanks for sharing! Keep that faith in tact!

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