When I took Spanish…perdoneme, Español…in high school, I had a rather bizarre teacher named Sra. Thomas. Taking part in her class for several years, I picked up on all her catchphrases and psychoses. ¿No recuerdas el preterito? Just sing este canción!
Fui fui di vi / ir ser dar ver / go be give see
Got it? Good. Now get in line at el taqueria and order yourself un carne asada in the past tense. She had endless mnemonic devices. One was high pitched and rhythmic and went like this: suppus vine hiccups while quising by the estuv – pud this be tuv? I do not, at this time, recall what it teaches me about conjugation. In addition to these bits of madness, she also had a repertoire of catchphrases. \”Vamos a ver\” is a legitimate Spanish one that remains with me, but few have stuck like \”el hump día\”. It\’s embedded itself in my hippocampus like a piece of shrapnel. Like all/most language courses, we started each new class with:
\”Buenos días clase\”
\”Buenos días, maestra.\”
\”¿Cuál es la fecha?\”
\”La fecha es el…\”
and so on. Every Wednesday, we would be forced to hear, \”Este es el hump día!\” The hump day. And I cannot so much as hear the word \”hump\” without that phrase leaping from my memory like Hobbes, so when I started an entry about the creative hump, this little introduction forced its way in.
I hate the creative hump.
What I mean by \”creative hump\” is the sum of all the fears, distracting feelings and things that plunk down in front of me whenever it is time to write or do anything else that is creative. I mentioned John Cleese\’s talk in a different post and he addresses this very idea. Just as soon as you get serious about writing, all the undone tasks, the funny memes and Facebook posts, unread emails, unread blogs, every one of your annoyed \”I don\’t wanna\” feelings launch themselves out of the ground and latch onto your face. It sucks. You want to do anything but the creative effort in front of you and, do you know what you, you don\’t have to do that creative thing. Hence blog posts like this.
Those root fears are the real backbiter. \”What if nothing good comes of this session? What if I do make something and it sucks and nobody likes it and they think I\’m a sham and I have to go live in a hole for all my shame? What if I\’m simply not one of these people who makes things?\” Those fears latch on and pin us down because it\’s not calling into question the things we do or make, it\’s calling into question who we are. If I write something and put it out there and it is rejected, or it\’s just plain bad, then it doesn\’t mean I\’m a bad or mediocre writer, or that I\’ve just not found an audience, it means I\’m a bad person. It\’s because what we dream about and create are tied (rightfully) to who we are. It is, perhaps, the biggest part of us. You\’ll notice how I slipped between persons in this paragraph.
And what really sucks is that there is no trick to getting over that hump, no giant eagle waiting to swoop you up and plant you onto the Carrock of productivity (if there is, send it to me now). You just have to hack your way through it. The more practiced you are, the quicker you\’ll get there, but some days are harder than others. Some days you just don\’t wanna.
For me, this is what separates the Pros from the Joes. Those who have learned how to stick it out, who are unafraid of committing to a session of making stuff, who have grown to understand that the voices, the fears, the distractions are just dirty lies from the bad parts of our brains and beyond. I, sadly, am not yet a Pro. But, man I\’d really like to be. I don\’t know why. I\’m getting there (and this book is helping) and the only answer that presents itself is that it\’s part of who I am. I want to create and more than that I want to create stories that can help people out.
Every day is a hump day, but I think my legs are getting in better shape.