“”Stop trying, it won’t work.” “What do you think you’re doing?” “You can’t do that because…” “Yeah, but…”
That little voice that you have inside you is a nasty piece of work. Imagine the most passive aggressive person you know and times them by a thousand. That little voice is probably responsible for ending 99% of creative pursuits before they even get started. Mine likes to begin its siren song almost immediately after I get an idea. It’s quite insidious, and I’ve been working on combatting it for a long time now.
It’s amazing how often that voice makes itself heard. For instance, this morning I was happily sipping away at my coffee, reading a Mr. Money Mustache blog post, and suddenly, from the murky depths comes “Well yeah, he did it. You can’t. You don’t have the self-control.” This came out of the blue, no prompting required, and it put a tiny little dent in my day. Not a big deal, but imagine having multiple tiny little dents every day, every week, every month, and so on. Nothing would ever get done and I would be a slave to that horrible little voice.
However, I have found a couple of strategies to combat this evil little thing, both of which require fine-tuning but are getting more effective. First, I like to agree with the little voice, then imagine the very worst thing that could possibly happen if I try whatever new endeavour that caused it to speak. For example, when I was thinking of starting this blog this was immediately heard “You can’t write, no one will read it.” Instead of yet again putting it off, I imagined that I had started a blog, but with a terrible scenario. Every other blog instantly became more popular, mine was the only one that was never read, it broke the internet, and I had to spend the rest of my life huddled up in my parents’ shed. By throwing in some absurdity I was able to laugh at that stupid voice and simply say so what? Who cares if no one reads it? It’s for my own pleasure, no one else’s.
The second strategy I like to use is baby steps. Writing down my idea before I forget, then jotting down how I could achieve it. By breaking it down into little tiny steps I can pre-empt any protests from my evil voice because the steps themselves are incredibly easy. Again, using this blog as an example, I made a list of the very first steps:
- Open a WordPress account
- Choose a format
- Write a few headers
- Read other blogs about blogs
- Pick some stock photo images that make me happy
- And on, and on, and on.
This list was so easy to follow over a few days that there was no fear when I clicked publish on the site. Nothing but tumbleweeds came from that voice. I effectively shut it down because it couldn’t nitpick with any of the smaller steps that make a bigger task easy to do. These methods don’t always work completely, but I can confirm that since using them I’ve done far more creative things than before. Not all of them have been successful (knitting has been and may always be an elusive skill set to me) but I’ve tried them regardless of how much my voice screamed. Screw that voice, he does not deserve to be heard.