'Myth' doesn't mean 'not real'
There is a secret war to keep us from creating.
When I was a boy, I used to run around in the woods of Louisiana with my nephew, making up stories about how God had been broken into pieces by the devil, and we had to find the parts.
It was really fun for both of us, and it’s an ancient and archetypal story, as I later found out. Give kids the room to play, they come up with the same stories as humans did 4,000 years ago. Amazing.
I remember my sister-in-law (much older and very Christian) saying, “Well, you know that God really can’t be broken into pieces by the devil, right?”
Like… she was so afraid that we would become little Pagans that she had to ruin all our fun?
That’s what adults do to kids: they ruin fun. They don’t mean to—some other adult ruined their fun a long time ago, and they’re just passing their discomfort along.
Kids naturally want to explore the stories that shape our unconscious. They feel into them. We wanted to be heroes like Superman or sorcerers like Gandalf. But, we eventually settle for pitiful scraps of those archetypes.
One day, we find ourselves desperate for the “security” of a “good” job. Hardly anything left of the mythos we felt as children.
Like the main character from “Office Space,” we’re eventually convinced there is no higher calling in life than to get to the office on time. It happens little by little.
Here’s what the “system” would rather you not know: Security isn’t practical in the long term; storytelling is.
Obviously, there is nothing wrong with having a job, but the impulse to tell (your) story guides you higher and prevents you from getting stuck. The denial of your story puts you in “hell.”
Tell stories and live a storied life.
Being creative as an adult
Creating stories as an adult categorically differs from being creative as a kid.
It requires a lot more courage. You’ve been burned many times, and you know the risks of opening yourself up to the world. But it has way more potential. You have more skills now. You know how the internet works, for example.
If you could be as effortlessly creative as you were as a child is and stack the discipline of adulthood on top, you’d be free in every sense of the word—rich in every sense of the word. And you’d have a richly meaningful life of creating beauty for yourself and others.
If it were only as easy as it sounds.
Here’s what Carl Jung had to say about it:
“In every adult there lurks a child—an eternal child, something that is always becoming, is never completed, and calls for unceasing care, attention, and education. That is the part of the personality which wants to develop and become whole.”
Developing that part of the personality requires making time to create.
For writers, it means sitting down to write.
Why you’re afraid of the white blank page
Because subconsciously, you feel it matters.
When you sit down to write, everything about you comes to bear. You’re forced to reckon with all your self-deception. It’s often too painful.
We are so unaware of our fears and lies we do almost anything besides writing and can’t explain why. We can’t even identify the pain. We say strange things like, “I have writer’s block!” What the hell does that mean? You don’t get talker’s block, do you?
But for the ones who can take it—for those who can bear to display their soul—there is an incalculable reward. Not only for you, but for the people you might touch with your work.
All you have to do is write about the pain. That requires the courage to feel it.
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” — Ernest Hemingway
If your work touches 1,000 people, and they know 1,000 people, that’s already a million. Another layer is a billion.
You are not a tiny piece of dust. You are the center of a network. When you write, the entire matrix shakes.
Nothing is more powerful than the potential beauty in you.
I can prove that.
Why beauty is so powerful (and terrifying)
Beauty shows us who we could be, and that’s painful because we’re who we are. That’s it.
Beauty can make a previously worthless scrap of paper priceless. It can turn that white screen and blinking cursor into something that can pay for your family’s food. It turns the chaos of your mind and others into pure, golden order.
Don’t let the (bad) salesmen and the marketers fool you; Beauty is your biggest lever. It’s your most practical lever. Every other way of creating value (affiliate marketing, sales, drug dealing, and drop shipping) wishes it was more like beauty. Who’s a better salesman than Hemingway or Picasso? They continue to sell well beyond the grave, and you never even feel sold. That’s the economic leverage of beauty.
Beauty is what everyone wants. People who make their money in an ugly way overcompensate with shiny, expensive things which demand you see them as beautiful.
We settle for a fraction of what we are because we’re scared of beauty on some deep, unconscious level.
That’s the state of 99% of people, including me.
That’s OK because a step toward beauty is something we can do together.
Where can you start
Knowing where to start is a big part of the battle.
Again, I want to share some of Carl Jung’s wisdom. Here’s part of a letter he wrote to a client struggling with what exactly to do next:
“If you always do the next thing that needs to be done, you will go most safely and sure-footedly along the path prescribed by your unconscious. Then it is naturally no help at all to speculate about how you ought to live. And then you know, too, that you cannot know it, but quietly do the next and most necessary thing. So long as you think you don’t yet know what this is, you still have too much money to spend in useless speculation. But if you do with conviction the next and most necessary thing, you are always doing something meaningful and intended by fate.”
Your destiny has already been laid out for you by your unconscious. You just need to take the slow, careful steps forward into the fog.
It’s annoyingly humble work, I find: Writing for 5 minutes today. Cleaning your desk. Calling an old friend. It starts humble, but that’s not where it ends if you keep going.
Trust me, no one walks a clear, shining path to creative success. The point of this whole thing is that you’re forging new trails. That’s at least part of the value you want to create.
Where you need to start should be clear to you. It could be:
Set a deadline to finish your book
Make a publishing schedule
Take a writing class
Clean your writing desk
But you already know what you need to do.
Comment below your next steps. Writing them out makes them more concrete.
Send this to anyone struggling to know how to use their creative potential.
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Thanks for reading,
Here’s what I’m reading:
Dante’s Devine Comedy
I’m taking a class online about it. Very excited to finally dive deeper into this work I barely understand.
$100M Offers by Alex Hormozi
Always trying to understand business as well as art. The tension is where the growth is.
Quotes I’m pondering:
“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
“To be lost in spiritlessness is the most terrible thing of all.” — Søren Kierkegaard
“For you must know, my dear ones, that each of us is undoubtedly guilty on behalf of all and for all on earth, not only because of the common guilt of the world, but personally, each one of us, for all people and for each person on this earth.” — Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
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