Death to the Stock Photo Writing Prompt #1 – The Obstacle & the Path

Sidenote: I love to write but sometimes get completely stuck on what to write. Prompts are a really cool way to kick through a writing block and keep me warmed up and in the practice of writing regularly. Sometimes the stuff that comes out is complete garbage. Sometimes there are some diamonds in the rough.

The fine folks at Death to the Stock Photo have partnered with creatives (like Paul Jarvis) on occasion in the past to issue writing prompts and whatnot. Recently, they created their own series. If you’d like to participate, they post the prompts on their page at Medium.

Death to the Stock Photo writing prompt #1

The prompt.

What’s your biggest creative challenge, and how do you overcome it?

My response.

Creative challenges abound for creative people. Anyone who tells you they are endlessly creative all the time is a liar. We all hit obstacles. Sometimes they are a mere nuisance and sometimes they are debilitating.

For over 10 years, I created in secret. Or didn’t create at all. Sure, I made little things to give as gifts. Or doodled here and there. But, by and large, I let the obstacles of life and the fallacy that I would never live my creative dreams convince me that there was no use trying.

I felt that if my voice didn’t make a difference or didn’t say anything worthwhile then it wasn’t worth uttering. Overcoming fear and a crippling lack of confidence was my challenge.

I wish I could say that it is all behind me. But each day is an effort. Each time I sit down to create the frustration and loneliness that accompanies poor self-worth threatens to sideline my creation. So I power through. I continue to make. Even if it won’t see the light of day.

Often, I think of my years in art school. So many wasted opportunities. So many risks not taken. Every crit that left me a little more deflated. Every self-imposed comparison to the people I perceived as more talented.

How would I fare in that ugly art school environment now? I still cringe at criticism. I still feel embarrassed by my blind spots and painfully aware of the thin areas in my talent. But I believe I would be more confident. Less self-effacing. Willing to stand up for myself and let my voice be heard regardless of magnificence or triviality.

Afterall, my inner critic slings more painful barbs than any group critique ever did. And although it still plagues me — and I mean ruthlessly dogs me — I refuse to let the challenge of fear sideline me again.

There is no size-fits-all solution. Fear isn’t something I can overcome forever, once and for all. It always comes back. But I create for the sake of creating. I put blinders on to anything I perceive as “high-stakes.” I repeat the mantra that without the pleasure and sustenance of creating, I would slip away into oblivion.

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