How To Stop Throwing Rocks In Your River And Just Create

River Rocks
image: JPott

Getting down to create the work you’re passionate about, the work that has most meaning for you, is easy.

Precisely as easy as you want it to be.

Which, you being you, isn’t very easy at all.

I’m not picking on you or singling you out, so please don’t take offence. I’m just the same myself.

With you and I, when something can be very simple, there always seems to be a mischievous and destructive urge gnawing away in the background.

An urge to complicate, to make it more difficult.

An urge to hold back, to resist, to self sabotage.

An urge to hurl a few huge ugly great rocks in an otherwise beautifully and happily flowing river.

I’m sure you know just what I’m talking about. It’s as if our creativity extends not just to the artwork we can create, but to all the ways we can sabotage ourselves too.

So what can we do? Is there a way we can stop throwing these rocks in our rivers, and blocking our creative flow?

There are two approaches we can try.

First, we could spend time analysing exactly why we seem to always sabotage ourselves, and make creating more difficult than it is.

The problem is, analysis inevitably leads to further analysis.

You look at the rocks you know about and they seem vast and overwhelming. That’s before you uncover rocks that you didn’t even know were there.

Then they fall (or discretely get pushed) in the river too and pretty soon you have not just a few little obstacles that your creativity can flow around, but something more akin to dam the size of a small city.

At this point, an abundant creative flow seems an ambitious dream. You’d be happy with a small trickle.

Thankfully, there is alternative, far more effective approach.

It’s this:

Set aside the time to create, commit to it, show up, create.

No frills, no hoops, no complex prerequisites, no sea of excuses and analysis to wade through, no rocks to avoid.

Just you, showing up to the page (or canvas, or stage, or lens…) and creating what matters.

So how do we do this in practical terms? How do we avoid the analysis and the rock throwing?

You make the decision beforehand about when you’re going to create, and for how long, then follow through.

Again this sounds ridiculously simple. And if it was this easy, why aren’t we doing it already?

Because we like to be in control.

We like to be free to decide. We like to be spontaneous. We like to wake up and have the power to say: “Shall I create today? What time is best? What shall I create, something completely new or an existing work in progress? Have I got everything I need? Would there be a better time to start?” and a hundred other questions.

About 99 questions too many in fact.

This array of choices may well give us a feeling that we are free artists and autonomous, and have a world of opportunity to create whatever we want to, however we want to.

The trouble is, the more you debate, the less the chance that you’ll create.

Every question opens up another series of questions and complications. Every question throws another rock into your river.

I’d like to share a practical and personal example of this in action.

I set an alarm in the mornings to wake me up.

My alarm goes at five. I wake. I hit snooze. Which gives me seven minutes to gradually come into the day. The alarm goes again, I get up.

I do my morning stacks – yoga, exercise, meditation, writing. It’s easy because I know what I’m going to do even before I wake. I’ve made the decision, to get up after the first snooze. I’ve made the decision to do this stack of habits.

Following through becomes the only option, because I know how good for me it is to have this morning routine.

I know that without it I’d be less fit, less creative, less happy. So there’s no debate necessary.

Here’s what used to happen though.

I’d set the alarm. It’d go off, I’d hit snooze. It’d go off again. I’d hit snooze again.

The next time the alarm went, I’d debate the options momentarily. Then hit snooze and roll over again.

Maybe four or five snoozes later I’d still be debating whether to get up or to snooze each time. The guilt would start to seep in that I wasn’t doing anything creative. I’d start to feel more tired because I was just laying half waiting for the next snooze, the next round of debating and question whether, when, what and why to create.

I wasn’t up creating, yet I wasn’t sleeping. I was drowning in analysis.

The rocks were tumbling into the river, one by one.

It’s obvious how effective the way I do things now is, especially compared to my former routine.

Find your own daily stack of habits, one by one. Experiment with building a framework that works for you and helps you be more creative.

Keep it simple. Don’t engage with analysis, don’t stop to endlessly question.

Set aside the time to create, commit to it, show up, create.

Get to the page.

Whether the page for you is a page, or a screen, or a canvas or an instrument or something else. Get to the page. Then follow the river.


Thank you for reading. Please share these words. Subscribe for free updates.


4 thoughts on “How To Stop Throwing Rocks In Your River And Just Create”

  1. Great post Dan. Thanks for the reminder about “self-sabotage”. I can get into this quite often, when I let myself. You’re so right in that we can end up drowning in analysis – which is pointless.

    The antidote – clear the mind, focus and just get on and do it!



    1. “Just get on and do it” is a great summary of the post! Thanks for stopping by Steve, and your ongoing support.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s