Lacking Talent?

“The more I practice, the luckier I get.” Golfer Gary Player

man juggling booksIf you think about it, the first four sources of writer’s block in this series are somewhat intangible.

The fears of ridicule, failure, the unknown and success don’t really exist apart from in the so-afflicted writer’s head – and, more specifically, their heart and gut minds. They become ’real’ enough however when they block a writer’s creative flow.

On first sight, the next common cause of writer’s block, namely lack of talent, could be thought of as being more tangible. If you are no good at writing, people won’t read what you write, so there’s no point writing, right?

Well wrong! Any lack of talent is mainly, and firstly, a perception again in the mind of the writer. Like all perceptions, it is both relative and as imaginary as any fear. Also like many fears, this perception can be seeded by an unfavourably marked essay at school or, god forbid, a three star review (or less) on Amazon.

Nowadays too any perceived lack of talent runs deeper than our ability to write. Whether we publish through the traditional or indie route, we have to be talented at marketing too and with the way we utilise social media.

Modern day successful writers have a talent for self-promotion through blogging, podcasts, YouTube and the likes of Twitter and Pinterest. So the demands on such a ’wired-writer’ increase which may erect an insurmountable barrier to a budding author.

So how do we go about getting more talented? The answer is simple. Like any activity such as a sport, or playing a musical instrument, practice and immersion are the keys. In this way, we build unconscious competence in our art.

So my five top tips for becoming a more talented writer are:

1. Write at least 500 words a day (or two sides of paper) – see Julia Cameron’s ’Morning Pages’ for some more on this

2. Blog at least once a week

3. Tweet three times a day, but with care and craft at how you optimise the linguistic use of those 140 characters (ideally only use 100 so you can be re-tweeted!)

4. Make a point of thanking people who leave reviews – even not so good ones (there are ways if you don’t know them)

5. Take at least 5 minutes of ’me time’ out each day to be thankful for all the skills and gifts you do possess – and at least once a day make sure you use at least one of them – and use it wisely

Useful links

Series index
Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages
140 Characters: a style guide for the short form by Dom Sagolla

Be Immense

Creative Immensity“Turn back to the higher planes and plunge into the cosmic ocean…

You will find far more light in what is vague and indistinct…

The human soul needs immensity; only in immensity can it be happy and feel free to breathe.”

Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov

Exorcising Creative Saboteurs

Do you have friends or family who don’t understand your choice to take the creative approach to life?  Who  find your choices perplexing, confusing or troubling? Maybe even threatening?

If they do, they may hurt you, arrest your progress and snuff out your potential, sometimes quite unconsciously.

You need to be vigilant, to watch out for such people and avoid them where possible, even if they are in your family or your close friends. You may even wish to let such friends go and seek instead those who support your changes and growth.

But avoidance is not always possible. If a saboteur does have a lash at you, you need to understand what has happened (sometimes we are oblivious, we feel the hurt without understanding what caused it or that it didn’t and doesn’t need to be so).

We also need to know ourselves, to know what we need to do to heal, so our development is not impeded.

Creativity guru and author of The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron, puts it thus: “In the Southwest, where I live half of every year, I have learned to walk with an eye peeled for rattlesnakes and even the stray tarantula. As an artist, I must pay equal heed to the psychologically dangerous denizens of my environment. I call these characters ‘creative saboteurs’.

“A creative saboteur is not a friendly animal, and no matter how innocent it may try to appear, its very presence means you  must be altert to impeding damage to you — and your dreams.”

Creative saboteurs take many forms:

  • The Crushers: think your tendency towards the creative is silly or self-indulgent or just plain crazy and like to tell you why, either directly or through barbed “humour”
  • The Doomsayers: know better than you, especially about how hard it’s going to be and all the dangers in what you’re doing
  • The Wet Blankets: dampen creative excitement whenever they encounter it, usually with uninvited, ill-considered opinion
  • The Superiors: love Literature and Art (capital L and A) and want you to know that you are deluded if you think what you do, or how you think about life, compares in any way to the doings of whatever Great Names they like to drop.

Sometimes, people have unacknowledged agendas of their own. Sometimes they know exactly what they are doing. Sometimes, it happens by accident, as people try to negotiate their own lives.

Most times, we can see saboteurs off by understanding what’s happening and just getting on with living our way and doing our thing.

But if something somebody said or did hurts like hell, more powerful (and playful) repair is needed.

1. Make A Monster.  Think over the injury that has been done to you (even, maybe especially if, it was many years ago) and reflect on its particular qualities. Now make a monster – draw it, paint it, write it or actually make it – that embodies all the nasty elements of your creative saboteur. Exaggerate wildly. Make it as big and bad and outrageously evil as you can. Let your imagination have full rein and let out your anger or frustration or hatred of this monster and what they’ve done. Prepare to be surprised.

2. Destroy The Monster.  You might set it alight. You might crush it between two bricks. You might decapitate it and bury it in a grave. You might take it out onto the motorway and abandon it.

3. F-R-E-E-Write the experience. How did it feel as you made it? As you destroyed it? How do you feel now?


Fear of Success

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Marianne Williamson

Spotlight on empty stageThis fear is the one that can be the most debilitating. It’s not only one that afflicts authors during the writing process but is also affects us once our book is published.

In this instance, you could call it “Author’s Block” In essence, it’s a fear of promoting yourself and your work in case you jump out of obscurity into the spotlight.

This is a fear that I have experienced first hand. One of the reasons I discovered about why it affected me so much was that when I was the most financially successful in my life with two businesses, this was when I was also the most stressed.  As a result, I directly equated success with stress and used my very creative mind to avoid success at all costs.

The signs that this is happening in your life are:

  • You jump on to the next project without really finishing off the one you have just finished
  • You work on behalf of other people before you get on with your own stuff
  • You become a ‘busy fool’

And I am proud to say I have all these T-shirts.

Strategies for Getting over the Fear of Success

1. Don’t compare your success with the percieved success of others. Redefine what success means to you – it doesn’t have to be about the financials

2. Get in the habit of celebrating all milestones, no matter how small, and in what ever manner you feel, e.g. every review I get for my books, I proudly share on Twitter and Facebook

3. Think of being successful without fear or stress as being a massive success in its own right

Fear of the Unknown

There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.
There are known unknowns; that is to say there are things that, we now know we don’t know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.”

— United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld

Confused business man

It’s natural for us to fear the unknown. Like all fears, this can start at an early age and remain with us for most of our lives.

When it comes to embarking on a creative project – or specifically not-embarking on a creative project – it can be somewhat debilitating.

The signs that this is happening in your life are:

  • You are a bit of a control freak and won’t start working until you know exactly each step of the way
  • You spend more time planning than doing
  • When you start creating, doubts about your ability start to sneak in which you use as excuses to stop

To add more complexity and confusion, there are actually classes of unknown-ness.


There’s obviously the stuff we know we know – the Known Knowns – at least that is until we find out whatever we thought we knew, we didn’t know that well after all.

There’s stuff we know we don’t know – the Known Unknowns – for example, for writers, who is going to publish our bestseller.

There’s a weird category of Unknown Knowns – these are things we know but didn’t know we knew. I love it when authors are actually quite surprised that people like reading their stuff. They were just not be quite aware of it.

Finally, as Mr Rumsfeld said, there are the Unknown Unknowns – these are the bête noires to creatives – these are the demons that can stop us in our tracks.

What we definitely do know is this diagram above is not to scale. We know for a fact there are many more things we don’t know than we do know. It is therefore illogical to fear the unknown. Rather that we should celebrate learning to know the things we don’t know.

Strategies for Getting to Know the Unknowns

1. Just accept we don’t have to know everything and getting to know things and especially making mistakes is part of the rich tapestry of life

2. Remind yourself that not trying is failure and giving it a go is success

3. Know that all you need to know is to know how to find out someone who does know

4. Learn how to use boolean searches on Google, Twitter and Wikipedia – and if you don’t know what a boolean search is or why they are useful just click here – take this as a tip from a person who knows

5. Use Mind Mapping to suppress the ‘critical’ left brain and engage the right

6. Write down three things you think you know and three things you think you don’t know – then have a think about them. Are you sure you really know the ones you think you know?

7. Learn something new every day, no matter how small.
For example, I subscribe to the Words for the Day from and Visual Thesaurus so each day I improve my vocabulary. Incidentally, I also find out daily that words that I thought I knew the meaning of – I really didn’t.

By exploring what we don’t know, we find that what we thought were Known Knowns aren’t quite as Known as we think they are !!!

Tom Evans is the author of This We Know – a fabulous read that challenges what we know, outlined what we don’t know and postulates what we could know.

It is available in print and for Kindle …
This We Know

Creativity is not a Hobby

Image from Homegrown Hospitality

Love Poem

Richard Brautigan. Love Poem.

San Francisco: Communications Co., 1967.

Marvin Tatum Collection of Contemporary Literature

From: University of Virginia Library

Fear of Failure

One of the major blocks to our creativity is the avoidance of failure. If you don’t actually do anything then you can’t possibly fail.

Job done! Fear of Ridicule neatly avoided quickly and easily!

Somewhat ironically though, writers, artists and musicians can be really creative on how they go about this avoidance strategy. As for the other types of fears, in nearly all cases, other behaviour masks what is actually occurring.

Typical signs that this fear is in operation include being a ’busy fool’ and finding you are always serving other first before generating our own output.

Expert at Creative Procrastination

Low self-esteem and pessimistic tendencies can also come to play. You may also find you give up at the first hurdle and any sign of adversity. You become an expert at creative procrastination.

These are all the tell-tale signs you are avoiding failure.

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Create Human Forms from Books

Create human forms from books, ARTIST : Nick Georgiou

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