Regular readers will have seen part 1 of my interview with writer and blogger Jeff Goins earlier in the week, where we discussed his journey so far, his new book and the difference between writing a book and writing a blog. Today we move on to discuss the creative process overall and how Jeff experiences that. So here goes.
James Prescott:Jeff, what have been your biggest struggles overall when it comes to creativity – not just on your book, but overall, and how have you dealt with them?
Jeff Goins: Yeah, I definitely appreciate what that struggle is. The biggest struggle I feel and experience as a creative person is finding my harmony in the tension of what Seth Godin calls ‘shipping’, getting your art out there to the world, and getting it to good enough.
I tend to have these two opposing extremes when it comes to my emotions. One side is perfectionism, like nothing feels good enough, and that’s what keeps me working on something for months and months and years and never sharing it with a soul, because I’m afraid – of failure and what people would think, and there is something holding me back from sharing this with the world.
I think that fear exists in most artists, and I think it’s a good thing. This is why we trust artists, because they are kind of neurotic, and they sit in a dark room by themselves waiting for inspiration to come, and they wait for just the right moment to share something. I’ve experienced this on my blog and in a variety of contexts. Sometimes I have a number of articles written and ready to go or I have one scheduled and it just doesn’t feel right, I have to throw it away. There’s this artistic intuition which I think good, and is important to the artistic life.
But at the same time that voice can sabotage me, and I can easily take self-doubt and mask it as that voice of discernment that ultimately leads me to not creating anything, so on the other hand there’s this other extreme of wanting to create something and share it and get immediate gratification, which I shared about earlier. Blogging is an awesome way of doing this but also a terrible way at the same time because you can get addicted to the applause, the accolades, getting something from the masses.
You can find a formula that works and use it again and again and again and some artists and bloggers do that and it’s great, but I find myself inbetween this tension of what’s actually good and getting to share things with people. Because I could easily write lots and lots of stuff and it not be as good, and in many respects that’s what I did for many years and nobody paid attention – or I can wait for months before I release anything to the world – and I don’t want to do that either.
I want to exist in the tension.
I don’t think there’s a scientific way of doing it, it depends on the person and the project. Because if you don’t create anything then it doesn’t even matter, but then if all you do is create garbage then it’s just noise. But I think it’s living in that tension that I think is what makes a really great artist.
JP: So if there was one thing you could say to creative people, one piece of advice you could give, what would it be?
JG: Don’t give up. I think there are voices of the world and the voice of self-doubt in yourself – but the one thing you should never do is quit. If you love the creative process, if you persevere, you can outlive the voices, don’t give up. We all kind of even out in the end. Malcolm Gladwell talked about the geniuses and the late-bloomers – Picasso was a child prodigy, at age 16 he was painting pieces from the renaissance perfectly. He mastered an art form so early in life he got bored with it and moved onto more interesting forms of art.
Then there are the people who don’t do anything until way later in their lives, and they have their season too. A good example that you might know is Smith Wigglesworth, who was a plumber for about 40 years, and at age 60 or so, he answered the call to be an evangelist, and he had this amazing ministry where people allegedly came back to life, he threw dead bodies against the wall and they came back to life.
So what was the right path? The answer is both.
In the case of Wigglesworth, you could say it took him 40 years to find out what he was meant to do, or alternatively you could see that as preparation. If we’re showing up, if we’re responding, if we’re not being afraid, then I think all our experience is preparing us for our time. You could look at the life of Jesus and say that – was He just wasting His life until He turned 30, or was He waiting, preparing, listening, for the moment to live a life that mattered, a life that echoed in eternity forever. His ministry was only three years, but it changed history forever.
So don’t give up – it’s easy to be tempted to give up. I finally just decided to show up and work hard, I’m just trying to honour the call that’s been placed on my life, and I’m a little bit scared about the influence that I’m getting and I’m prayerfully stepping into it, whilst being very mindful that my character grows at the same rate my influence does.
JP. Interesting, thanks for doing this, it’s great to be able to do the interview.
JG. No problem, thanks for reaching out and we’ll have to stay in touch. Take care.
That’s it for the interview, but as I mentioned in part 1, Jeff has graciously opened up a great offer for readers of www.JamesPrescott.co.uk. I don’t normally do offers, but this is one that I can wholeheartily recommend to you.
You can currently get copies of two of his amazing e-books – ‘Every Writers Dream’ and ‘Before your first book – 5 tips to getting published now’ for a combined price of just $2.99 (about £2 or so).
Simply use the code “stopstalling” at this link here before the end of Friday 27th January (US time) and you can get two excellent e-books for a bargain price.
I’ve read them myself and can’t recommend them highly enough, especially if you are an aspiring creative or writer – they’ve been a huge help to me in my journey and I’m sure they can have the same impact for you.
If for whatever reason you’re reading this after 27th January and have somehow missed the offer deadline, the books are still available for the relatively cheap price of $4.99 (about £3), which I think for two e-books isn’t bad at all – and I can assure you it’s well worth the investment.
You can also download his first e-book, ‘The Writers Manifesto’, for absolutely nothing on his blog – and it’s another that’s well worth reading.
If you liked what you heard of Jeff and want more, feel free to check out Jeff’s blog and keep your eyes peeled for Jeff’s book, ‘Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into your Beautiful Life’ (Moody Publishers), to be published later this year.
I’m James Prescott and I’m a writer & creative passionate about helping people discover their identity. I blog regularly at www.JamesPrescott.co.uk and am a regular guest blogger at bigbible.org.uk and other sites. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.