Part one of my series: Feel Better Now: Games to play to take the pressure off your creative work.
Whenever I’m wrestling with a problem or decision, I pretend I’m the last person alive on Earth. I imagine what I would feel like if there was no one around to judge or criticize or weigh in on my choices. It’s just me, myself, and I, freely twirling around a mountain top meadow in the middle of Austria singing about the hills being alive with the sound of music. (Which I can sing extra loud, because remember, nobody is there to hear me.)
Once I get in that solitary headspace, I poke around for how I really feel about the topic. (You know, in that scary place called Deep Down Inside.) I sometimes even write a dialog back and forth between myself. I start off with the me from a fully populated Earth, then switch to the viewpoint of the me living in her solo, autonomous world.
Populated-World Me: “I have this strong urge to write an epilogue to my book where the characters meet up four years later. It would be so much fun to write, but I can’t do it.”
Last-Person-on-Earth Me: “Why not?”
“Because from what I’ve read online, my book is already too long and the experts say I should be cutting words, not adding them.”
“Uh. Look around. There are no experts left. You’re the only person here.”
“Oh right. I forgot.”
“So, you know what that means? No one’s looking. You can do whatever the hell you want.”
“But… are you sure no one will find out?”
“Again. Who’s going to judge you? That birch tree over there? Now go on. Get to it. Follow your instincts. Do what feels right to you.”
“Wow. That’s actually a choice? Oh, man, this feels so good!”
(Runs off and writes pages of romantic reunion scenes, then dances like a lunatic around the house because it was so much fun.)
I find playing this game really exposes my limiting beliefs and shows where I’ve shifted my focus to other people’s opinions instead of my own. It also opens me up to all the possibilities I hadn’t been able to see when I was only looking at the paths others (supposed experts) believed to be right.
How many times have you heard an author say their most successful work came from something they wrote just to please themselves? Of how shocked they were by the positive reaction to the piece of work because they hadn't thought much about anyone else's response to it as they wrote. That they had done it strictly because it was fun for them. In other words, those authors were in their solo, unpopulated world as they made their decisions about their stories. They were the Last People on the Earth of their own creations.
So, give the game a try. Tap into that rich imagination of yours and find that vast Austrian mountaintop in your mind where you can get clear about your own likes and dislikes; what makes your own heart sing and twirl. You might be surprised by how much inspiration comes when you give up performing for the peanut gallery and instead focus solely on entertaining yourself.