A blank page is terrifying.
Sure, it symbolizes new beginnings and endless possibilities.
But for someone like me—someone with deafeningly negative internal voices when it comes to creativity—it can be more than a little daunting.
Sometimes the words just don’t flow.
Sometimes from the minute I sit down to write I’m already thinking, this sucks.
Mostly I’m thinking, Cormac McCarthy is a genius… and I’m not.
I would never aspire to compare myself to someone of McCarthy’s stature, but my fear is that, because people like him write, no one will pay attention to my work. I mean, why read this blog when Blood Meridian exists in the same universe?
Then I’ve heard people say things like, if you’re going to be a writer you have to write every single day.
And not to knock the advice for everyone… but that just wouldn’t work for me.
Sometimes I need the clarity of walking away from my work for a bit.
Other times, though, when I do force myself to sit and type, things start to come.
It’s seems like a delicate balance between making myself do the work that I’m afraid of and being kind to myself.
I sat through a workshop with Al Andrews a while back that really helped me. He is a counselor and therapist that works mainly with musicians and people in the entertainment industry. He told us about all of the negative voices he hears in his head. Every time he gives a speech or lecture, they get louder and louder until he almost wants to walk off stage.
He then asked us to yell out some things that our inner voices tell us.
You’re not good enough.
You won’t ever be successful.
Your sister is the creative one.
No one wants to hear what you have to say.
You are inadequate.
No one likes you.
I can’t believe you thought you could do this.
You are a mistake.
They just got harsher and harsher until there was this stunned silence. Like… OUCH.
We are so mean to ourselves. We would never say those things to someone we cared about, so why do we treat ourselves this way?
I grew up in church. As a kid I was taught that the way to have ‘JOY’ in my life was to order it thus:
J (esus), O (thers), Y (ourself)
In case you didn’t notice, you’re third on the list.
Not that there isn’t a shred of truth or wisdom in that little acrostic, but the point I took away from it as a child was that I wasn’t as important as the other things on that list.
And that (among other harsh lessons) did it’s fair share of damage. I’m still healing from it.
The remarkable thing about the teaching “love others as you would love yourself” (which differs from the ‘JOY’ idea), however, is that it presupposes that in order to be a healthy human in healthy relationship with others, you will love yourself. You have to.
And that’s a beautiful thing.
Lots of creative work is birthed out of pain and constant wrestling with circumstances and ideas and how to give them proper expression.
But I know that my writing is better and I enjoy writing more when I allow the scales to tip from the crippling self doubt in favor of a little self love.
I will never be Cormac McCarthy.
I am Brandon Dragan and I’m going to risk believing that someone in the world needs what I have to say.