Writing Coach Insights: Worry and Other Creative Drains


Worry does not prevent Aunt Sue from criticizing your cooking at Thanksgiving dinner. It does not heal your dog’s itchy spot. It will not make your boss nicer, and it will not get you a man. Guaranteed.

No doctor ever prescribed worry (hopefully) to cure your warts or improve your cholesterol. Doesn’t work.

Here’s what worry will do: It will make you conservative, creatively speaking. It will make you stick to dry land. It will make you safe and uptight and boring. If it goes on and on like that, possibly you will cause yourself so much suffering that you will drink too much, watch too much tv, eat too many potato chips, or shoot heroin. It will make you want to be numb, and so you will find something that does that, whether it’s overeating or undereating or overdrinking or overworking or undersleeping or whatever. You will do too much of something or too little of something else.

When you are numb, you are not creative. Being creative means living richly and bravely, of feeling and experiencing and allowing instead of suppressing. Even if you don’t use some misguided coping mechanism, worry is emotionally and creatively paralyzing. Sure, maybe propelled by the energy of fear alone, you can force yourself to finish that report or project, but then, you are creating from the energy of constriction and resistance and suffering, whereas true creative energy is characterized by ease and joy.

That’s not to say that true creativity does not involve effort. However, it is joyful effort—easy effort. It is not Sisyphus pushing a boulder up a hill. It is not paddling upstream. No force is applied. It is humane—kind, even.

This is how you will recognize true creativity—it involves no fear. It never tries to coerce you into doing anything you don’t want to. It knows enough to not even try to hammer a square peg into a round hole. Duh. It is fun. When you are creative, you salivate. You are turned on. You are peaceful, relaxed, surrendered.