When the Gremlins Have Taken You Down

The gremlins are sneaky. I’m talking about those evil critters whose sole purpose is to sabotage the forward movement of your creative life. You think you’re just taking care of business – dealing with your broken down car or your laundry or the membership applications for your housing co-op. These are all important matters, right? Dealing with them immediately means that you’re taking care of business, and once you’ve cleared the decks, then you’ll be able to get at your creative projects.

That’s exactly what the gremlins want you to think. Because once you buy into that illusion, the endless supply of matters-that-need-to-be-dealt-with-now become priorities and, before you know it, you’re dutifully responding to every email that floods into your in-box.

Then, if you live in the northern hemisphere, 4:30 comes around, it’s dark, you have no energy left to get going on your book proposal, or to finish writing the song that you’ve been working on, or to devise the business plan to help get your jewelry to the marketplace. You pour yourself a glass of wine and a promise to get at these things tomorrow, and try to ignore the depression that is fast encroaching on your soul.

The gremlins have taken you down, my friend.

With the ridiculous pace and distractions of this crazy world, they don’t even have to whisper evil self-esteem-destroying messages into your ear any more. All they need to do is to somehow convince you that your creative work will take care of itself – and then sit back and let life’s many interruptions hijack your valuable life force and suck you dry.

I got wise to those evil geniuses this morning. I’d given over the first couple of hours of my day to a couple of matters-that-need-to-be-dealt-with-now, as I’d been doing for the entire week, and felt as though I was going INSANE! Then a faint, barely audible voice encouraged me to spend just a little bit of time on a book I’ve been working on. Not much. Just a little weeny bit.

Somehow I managed to overcome what’s-the-use-itis (a serious symptom of gremlin takeover) and go to my desk and put in a respectable 90 minutes of writing time. It wasn’t fabulous writing but I was back in the saddle. I was home again.

I emerged from the session determined to recommit to putting my creative work first. In my case, that means getting up at 6:00 AM and going immediately to my desk, lighting a candle, and devoting the first one or two dark hours of the day to my creative project at hand. Before exercising, before checking my email, before breakfast even. No exceptions.

After years of getting on and falling off of the creativity wagon, I have come to this simple truth: Put your creative work first and do so repeatedly – and the gremlins will simply vanish.

Anyone else getting up at 6:00 AM tomorrow? I’d love to hear how you do, what problems you encounter, what challenges you meet, etc. I’ll check back in a few days and let you know how it’s going. Gremlins be gone!

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