How to Crush Your Creativity: Get Discouraged

I’m not suggesting that you will never get discouraged. The key questions here are: How easily are you discouraged, and how long will you stay discouraged?

To take writing as an example, some people jump ship at the first sign of difficulty. The plot isn’t gelling, the characters went AWOL, or you can’t find the information you need for background research.

Others get through the writing part and give up either because some agents turn it down or because they can’t figure out self-publishing details.

Whatever your source of discouragement, you will hear in the background the words, “It’s just too hard.” You may also hear, “It isn’t fair,” in which case, check out the post on resentment.

The more you repeat the unmagic phrase, “It’s just too hard,” the harder it will seem. Imagine that each repetition is like placing a rock in your way. Your goal is on the other side. If you say the phrase 10 times a day, that’s 10 rocks. Uncontrolled repetition leads to building a wall.


Try to eliminate that phrase.

Replace it with others, such as “Maybe I can ask someone.” “Maybe I can get a critique.” “I might be able to find a helpful book or information online.”

Remember the little train that could. Even if you’re not sure you can, say, “I think I can.”

The Creative Path Has Potholes

The creative process, no matter what you’re creating, encounters moments of discouragement. It is at such moments that we often feel most alone. We know that, while others can sometimes shine a light to help us through the darkness, ultimately this process, in both its high and low moments, comes from within us.

I post this quote as a reminder that even in the moments of feeling alone, we tread a path where others have passed.

“And you know of course that many times before I finish this book I shall hate it with a deadly hatred. I shall detest the day when I started it. It will seem the poorest piece of crap that was ever set down. This feeling will reach a fine peak on about the 500th page. Once I pass that I will continue to work in a state of shock. And when it is done I will be lost for a long time.” John Steinbeck, from Journal of a Novel, his detailed account about writing East of Eden

If you’re interested in reading this book, it’s available at