Expectations and the Creative Process

Here it is Thursday and  I woke up to say, wow it's Thursday already. Sometimes I have a post ready to go and have to postpone it for later in the week. This is not that week however. I think my editing is coming along quite well but that I find internally is a mixed bag of self doubt and exhilaration.

I ask myself why the self doubt. I don't put a question mark there because I was talking to myself. I can answer the question I believe with a word. The explanation will be more than one word is my prediction.


When I wrote Firetok years ago. I wanted to write a book and that was pretty much it. I wanted to write a book. I had no idea what came next and had no expectations of it or for it. It was a great way for me to occupy my mind. I have found few things more immersing than unwinding a story from my head I previously had no knowledge of. That whole mysterious process could lead off on a tangent far from my intended course.

OK, so I had no expectations. I did not then, nor do I now purport to know what I am doing as far as the technicalities. But I have friends that do so please don't leave yet. Reaching the Amazon list was a high I will admit but I am not ready to run around claiming to be an expert yet. Since the early days of writing this book I have made an effort to improve how I write and essentially edit my own work. Take it easy, I am not quite as critical on the blog nor do I reedit to the same degree, so cut me some slack. I have learned how to be a little more objective about how I do things bla bla bla followed by more bla bla blas.

So I should be a better writer today than I was X (insert humorous number here) years or days or minutes ago right? The answer should be yes. So I extend this and ask, so shouldn't this story be X times better than the last? The answer again should be yes. But wait a minute, I have expectations now. The great what if. What if my writing has improved but the story isn't exciting or the characters are not whatever they are supposed to be? The end all what if, what if my writing has not even improved? This reminds me of when Dorothy got the witch wet. I'm melting! Ahhhh. What if it's not this or that? What if monkeys fly out of my butt? I will abandon the what ifs before I run out of ink in my computer.

I was listening to a guy yesterday talking about book marketing essentially he was talking about a lot of stuff but you get the idea. One of the points he made was that maybe after his second book attained best seller status he suddenly found a confidence he had not previously known all other things essentially the same. His ability had not increased so much I guess as his credibility. I suppose in this case his results helped push back his own self doubt. Sometimes the evidence really needs to pile up for the stubborn to be convinced.
Don't get me wrong. this isn't a woe is me piece. Far from it, I am asking questions as usual. I had a discussion with a friend earlier this week who went on to say the whole self doubt, perfectionist aspect of any creative person or endeavor should almost be a given. A person overconfident in their ability is typically not the person with the greatest ability. Part of the equation for me has to be that of delivering perfection at the level I am able to in this moment. I am not a wing it kind of guy, maybe I should be when I see how many books some of these people are selling who really appear to be winging it. I won't criticize we all create for different reasons with different motivations. If it came down to it and I could make a pile of money off something I threw together in an afternoon it would be rather incredible or in my case unbelievable. I'll finish my book instead.

I think many people create more to let something out that they can't get out otherwise. Attaching expectations to that expression is likely a mistake? Yes and no. Do the expectations interfere with what you are trying let out of your head or are they healthy ones that keep you working where someone else would call good enough?

 Let's put that in our pipes and smoke it. Please put a comment if you would like to talk about how your self doubts have helped or hindered your creative process. Thanks for reading, I truly appreciate it.