Creative Flow: There is Magic in Asking Yourself The Right Questions
The wrong questions will destroy your power to create, but the right questions will fill you with inspiration, encouragement and motivation to create work that will blow you (and others) away!
Am I good enough? Do I suck? Should I give up? Will I ever create work that matters? Why can’t I ____? (Fill in the blank.)
Those are the wrong questions. Do you want to free yourself from doubt and create work that matters? Then you need to ask yourself the right questions.
Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.
– Voltaire – Tweet this quote.
Creative people tend to be the most tortured people I know. And no one tortures us more than we do ourselves. You know it’s true. I can hear you sighing in agreement, wishing it weren’t true.
We tear ourselves up day in and day out wrestling with questions that only serve to feed our doubts about whether we have what it takes and if our work is good enough.
I decided to stop doubting myself.
But I had to learn how. The answer was in an unlikely place, in the very questions I asked myself and I didn’t even realize I was asking them.
It was excruciatingly painful to have the desire to create something and yet, turn around and talk myself out of it.
Maybe you’ve started projects only to stall midway through because you second guessed yourself?
If so, then you know what I am talking about and you know how it feels. Allow me to assure you – you are not alone.
Will I ever finish?
Have you ever asked yourself if you’ll ever finish your book, or painting, or any creative project? And then answered without even realizing you asked the question with…
It’s too painful, too difficult, and I’m just not cut out for it.
Maybe your answer wasn’t with words. Sometimes it’s more about how the question makes you feel and in turn, how you instinctively act in response.
The question will likely lead to another, such as:
If I was meant to create this, then shouldn’t it be easier?
The answer would invariably be, of course.
Slowly, but surely, stalling or giving up are options you begin to contemplate. The next thing you know six months have passed and you still haven’t written another word or painted another stroke.
The only one way to change this dreadful process is to use: S.A.S.Q.
Stop. Asking. Stupid. Questions.
Some say there’s no such thing as a stupid question.
There are stupid questions and if you don’t stop asking them, they will destroy any chance you have of creating the work you want to create.
Kind of dramatic, I know. But creative people like you and me, we can be stubborn and sometimes we need a bucket of ice water poured over our heads.
The only questions that really matter are the ones you ask yourself.
— Ursula Le Guin — Tweet this quote.
Why can’t I write a bestseller?
It’s a stupid question. Seriously, — never, ever, ask it.
You haven’t written a bestseller because you’re asking yourself the wrong question. As a matter of fact, it is the one question that will absolutely ruin any chance you might have of writing anything that will matter to you.
Why? Because it’s not really a question.
It’s a statement of fact: “I can’t write a bestseller.”
If you’re asking why you can’t do something, then the question holds incredible power over you. It will hold that power until you stop asking it and replace it with a better question or an affirmation.
How about asking yourself: “Who says I can’t write a bestseller?”
No one. Write your best work and see what happens.
Ask questions that work for you, and not against you.
When we ask constructive questions we enable our minds to seek out answers that empower us to flourish.
The ability to ask the right question is more than half the battle of finding the answer.
— Thomas J. Watson — Tweet this quote.
Do I suck?
This is the stupidest question of all. Of course, not! No one, and I mean, no one, and especially not you, sucks.
When you ask yourself if you suck, then your mind focuses on just how much you suck. Your mind automatically assumes you must suck, otherwise why would you ask?
Imagine if someone told you that you are worthless. How would that make you feel?
Now imagine if someone told you that You Rock!
Big difference. Right? Yep. You Rock!
Questions we ask ourselves are not always questions.
Most of the time they are affirmations, and we must become aware of what we are stating about ourselves because we respond accordingly.
Instead of asking “Will I ever finish my book?” which is basically you telling yourself you will never finish your book, ask: “When will I finish my book so I can begin my next one?”
The alternative question presents a different dynamic, which assumes you are going to finish and write another. Answer the question deliberately and give yourself a timeline.
It’s doubt asking the stupid questions, not you!
The key is to realize when you are asking yourself a stupid question, and also realize that it is doubt asking, not you. Purposely stop whatever you are doing (unless you are driving or working with heavy machinery) and rephrase the question to be more constructive and empowering.
Am I creative?
Wrong question. Sometimes it is best to just go ahead and replace the question with an affirmation.
Tweet the affirmation you identify with:
I am a writer. Tweet
I am an artist. Tweet
I am creative. Tweet
My work matters. Tweet
I am having an impact. Tweet
I am magical. Go ahead and tweet it, because it is true!
A better question:
How can I improve as an artist?
This question indicates you are an artist, and every artist wants to improve.
The answers are: create more, take lessons, join a tribe, and you will improve.
All of the answers to a constructive question are beneficial.
How do you know which questions are wrong and which are right?
You already know.
If a question leaves you feeling doubtful about yourself and your abilities, then it is the wrong question.
If a question empowers you and motivates you – then it’s the right question.
There is magic in asking the right questions.
With the right questions you’ll find you have less doubt, less fear, and you’ll create work that matters to you.
Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.
— Anthony Robbins — Tweet this quote.
Here’s an assignment I’d like to challenge you with in the comments:
Consider questions you’ve asked yourself that have negatively impacted you and write at least 3 of them in the comments and replace with better questions, or turn them into affirmations, or both. If you’d rather not post them in the comments, that’s okay, but consider doing it just for yourself.
Here’s one of mine:
This is one of the most self-defeating questions of all time. It assumes the challenge you’re going through is too much for you, or you’re not good enough, skilled enough, or talented enough.
The truth is, we all go through setbacks and challenges. You are more than able to overcome them, turn them around and create work that matters.
Challenges help us grow and stretch beyond where we currently are. Without challenges we’d never strive beyond the limits we’ve subconsciously set for ourselves.
You are good enough.
I replaced “Why me?” with “Why not me?” and I affirm “I am well able.”
Your turn in the comments…