Positive Writer

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How to Unlock Your Creativity and Stop Feeling Like A Failure

You’re a creative person with ideas bursting at the seams of your mind and your synapses are firing like the fourth of July.

But it’s a lot of fireworks with little to show for all the stimulation.

Let’s change that and unlock the creative you.

Creative Commons by Kalyan

Creativity takes courage.

~Henri Matisse – Click to tweet this quote.

Writing as the example

You’ve imagined the story, you can visualize it vividly and although you’ve tried time and time again you simply cannot write it. Not all of it, just a few notes here and there and, if you’re lucky, a few partial chapters.

Showing up isn’t the problem for you, not usually, but the frustration causes you to show up less and less. You’ve got all the tools, but something continues to hold you back.

What is it?

You’ve taken the classes, read the books and tried your best to use all of the advice and yet you remain stuck.


There may be an answer simpler than you think.

Answer these questions:

  • Have you created an outline?
  • Are you taking notes and keeping them in an organized manner?
  • Are you doing everything you’ve been taught to exactness?
  • Are you spending at least 1 hour every day creating, even if you don’t feel like it?

If you’re doing everything above, basically following the “rules” then that might be why you are stuck. But, if you’re not doing those things then that might be why you are stuck.

I know, confusing, but you’ll get it in a moment.

One of the problems with being a creative today is standardization and step by step processes. You must have an outline, you must be organized and you absolutely must show up every day. Right?

Right for some. Wrong for others.

It’s good to have guidelines and basic rules to follow, and we understand why we are taught to use them, but for too many of us, trying to connect the dots and color within the lines are handicaps which erodes our desire to create.

And yet, for others, connecting the dots and coloring within the lines works fine.

A solution

Perhaps you’re like me and an outline freaks you out and fills you with anxiety.

You might not even realize the issue, but if you feel dread at the thought of adhering to one of the “rules” for creating art, then perhaps you should stop using it.

You must create in your own way. Break some rules.

Click Here to tweet that.

I hate outlines and when I use them I can’t write to save my life. For those who live and die by the outline this may seem insane and I totally understand why.

However, for me writing from an outline is like trying to open a lock for which I have no key.

I like structure, but less detailed than an outline so my ideas have room to breathe and come alive.

The reality is that we are not all the same (and thank goodness for that).

Each of us must embrace our own unique way of creating.

Click Here to tweet that, too.

Some people are left brain dominant and some people are right brain dominant and others are somewhere in-between.

And you know what, that’s okay.

What has curbed creativity the most, is the belief we must all work the same way.

Let’s be real, at least with ourselves.

What works for you may not work for me and what works for me may not work for you.

We know that already, don’t we?

And yet we insist on enforcing rules on ourselves that don’t work for us.

Why did we learn rules if they don’t work?

The answer to that question is perhaps best answered by Captain Barbossa:

The code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.

~Cpt. Barbossa – Pirates of the Caribbean

Creativity is not something you can turn into a numbered list of to-dos and expect everyone to suddenly be the next Michelangelo or Da Vinci.

That would be nice. Wouldn’t it?

No. I don’t think so, because then art would become bland and boring.

The reality is that if you find your own method you are far more likely to create something remarkable and become crazy productive.

If you continue to use rules and methods to an exactness that doesn’t work for you then you will remain stuck.

And let’s face it, being stuck is depressing. It’s really a terrible pastime.

This doesn’t mean you should throw out every lesson you’ve ever learned, completely ignore rules or that you can’t learn from someone else who is leading the way.


What I am saying is you should use what you’ve learned in ways that work within your own PBC.

Personal Brand of Creativity

You and me, we are naturally gifted (indeed, we are), but each in our own unique and special ways.

And yes, it does take a bit of courage to trust, let go and step outside of the rules.

How to start finding your way

The odds are that you already know and if you reflect on work, any work will do, that you have accomplished you’ll find the answers you are looking for.

  1. Consider something you’ve shipped consistently. (Raising children, maintaining a garden or even just washing the dishes.)
  2. Reflect on your process and write it down. Your personal, natural process is there if you look for it. I promise.
  3. Find ways to incorporate your natural process into your creative work. And guess what, raising children, gardening and even washing the dishes are creative processes that are unique to each of us.
  4. Be true to yourself.
  5. Don’t fight it and you will unlock yourself and your creativity!

Sometimes we spend too much time trying to find a new formula or system that we miss the best one. The one we already have.

Now go, create courageously in your own way, make it your personal brand of creativity by being the awesome, unique artist that you are.

Are you ready? Share in the comments.


About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins



  • Bryan, this is really helpful. Thank you for it.

  • Great idea Bryan. When I wash the dishes, I start the job, and don’t leave the kitchen until the task is done.  I ship the product. Often with an art project, or a story, I start, and stop, start and stop, and never finish. A new approach, thank you.

  • annepeterson

    Loved it Bryan,

    I especially liked 5. I think we do lock our creativity up and realize we are unable to get out as well.

    I remember one time my daughter who is a visual artist was frustrated. She didn’t have the time to work on a piece freely. She was making herself finish another one. A tedious one. She said later she just decided to just draw. With charcoal in hand she freely let loose. The results? One of her best pieces!

    For me, when I have an obstacle I have gotten tied up. So as yet, I haven’t learned how to free up till that obstacle is removed. But once it is, watch out.

  • addcoachglen

    Some great perceptions, Bryan, about how we can sometimes be led into becoming our own block to creativity. 
    1.  Believing we must strictly follow some standard system to create can freeze us in place. 
    2.  Everyone has their personal “best way” to do everything which may not bear any resemblance to how it “should” be done. 
    3.  Those of us with “EFD” (executive function dysregulation), more than others, forget to look at what’s right there under our feet.  We probably already use a method (system?) for coming up with ideas:  we just haven’t been looking for it.  

    Learning to discover, and then trust, one’s own inner voice and ignore the loud shouts about how we should do this or that is one of the most beneficial and nurturing acts we can do for ourselves.  Keep writing!

  • I need to be creative like I need air – whether photography or writing or cooking – just creating something like I need to breathe… and I often find myself at a block. It’s suffocating and frustrating! I love your post and I am saving it for next time I reach a block!  Thanks for writing this! 

    • Great Mel Ann, I think you will enjoy the posts here, because I am like you, I need to create in the way that I need to breathe 🙂 Bests.

  • Marilynluinstra

    In the movie “Secretariat” Red Pollard consoles his wounded and recovering racehorse with the ancient words of Roman Emperor, Hadrian, “brick by brick,” my friend, Rome was not built in a day. I don’t’ know about the horse but I think of Pollard’s words often. becauseI feel the same way about developing my creativity. Your advice helps; you have good horse sense Bryan;)

    • Thank you, Marilyn lol. I’m glad my advice is helping. Btw: Joan and I absolutely love the movie “Secretariat”!!

  • Rules are made to be broken? It’s great to have the rules as a guide, but so agree, we are not all meant to approach writing the same way. I work with college bound kids on their essays and one of the things I find most important is helping them to let go of some of the structure of writing they’ve learned. To tell their stories in a meaningful, authentic way…and in 500 words or less, they have be set free. So I assign them “free writes” in their journals as a way of getting to their story nuggets, which are often buried underneath intros and conclusions and word counts. Then, once they’ve got the idea, the outline sometimes comes in to help them structure their story. As both a writer and editor, I’ve learned editing should be saved for last!!

    • Elisa, I love  “authentic” writing. Perfect word, thank you!

  • JanetHertogh

    Thanks, Bryan! 
    I especially connected to #2- regarding my process. 
    I want the “product” and like most things, especially writing, creating is a process and journey- Sadly, I can often times be like an impatient child screaming that I want it done NOW!  
    Thank you so much for reminding me!!! 

  • Thanks for this perspective. I’ve discovered lately that what ships constantly is what’s for others (both 2 and 4 legged). So consistently do I care for others, that there’s often little “left over”. This year my goal is to better care for/honor/love myself so I get some of the first helpings of my own energy and creativity, and not just a steady diet of leftovers.

  • I find your blog posts so helpful and encouraging. No wonder you won the top ten best blog awards. So glad I learned of you through Tribe Writers. You are a blessing.

  • Arief Rachman

    Very good article.

    Initially i got problem of inconsistency and plot holes in the story. Then for few months i’ve tried to change my way of writing stories by following some suggestions to write detailed plots and story elements (characters, settings, etc) to avoid plot holes in my story. When the draft finished, it looks like a solid plot for a good story. But then i got a very bad writer block. I just can’t find the passion to write that story, since everything was too clear in the draft. No room for further or unexpected development since it would ruin story concept in the draft, and i found no excitement when i found that the character can’t behave unexpectedly in the story.

    Thus i decide to return back to what i usually do, create minimum plot and story element and let it expand and develop as the story goes. But now i write down any ideas in notes and creating some notes on how much the story has differ from the initial draft plots (to avoid confusion, inconsistency and plot holes). And i think this style did suite me better than the one that suggested to me before.

    • I’m glad the post helped, Arief!

    • Halbs

      I like your hybrid style. It’s kind of a balance of passion of the more mundane parts of creating.

  • Thanks, Bryan! I will make a good use of outline

  • I love your writing. You are such a Positive Writer.  I don’t like to have a lot of rules when I write.  I write every day, and publish.  I just have rules for my staff. Like, clean the litter box every day. 

  • Wow! You’ve nailed it with this post! What an ‘A-ha’ moment! I will put your suggestions to great use right away~ applying my natural process in my creative world. Super excited! Thank you!

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  • Thank you for sharing such wonderful and interesting article onhow to unlock your mind.

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