Following yesterday’s exercise, today let’s consider why we might not be as open to our creative practice as we want.

Are you holding something back from your writing? Are you unable to commit the time you need to grow as a writer? Do your characters and situations feel flat? Are you hesitant to take the next step in your career? Or are you like me, and you feel foolish referring to your writing as your “career”?

When we’re hurt, we pull away from what hurt us. Unfortunately, for creative people, that often means pulling away from the thing we love because our work was unduly criticized or because we were teased or shamed for trying.

Are you hiding some past hurt about your writing or are you hiding from something? Take time today to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What am I hiding?
  • What or who am I hiding from?
  • What is the payoff for hiding?
  • What is the cost of hiding?

This one might be hard. I’ll go first.

I was an introverted kid who liked reading, writing, and drawing, and was relentlessly teased for it. At home, my childhood efforts were greeted with indifference, at best. At worst, I’d be criticized for what I read, wrote, or drew, and criticized for not doing it as well as acknowledged adult masters. When I asserted my intention to be a writer as an adult, I was told that I wouldn’t make any money that way and that writing was a lonely life.

As an adult, I got into the habit of hiding my dreams and my writing, because I don’t want to be shamed for what I write about. I don’t want to be compared to the masterclass of authors. I don’t want to hear that writing a novel isn’t worthwhile unless I make a lot of money for doing it. If I publish, I don’t want to hear that my novel didn’t sell as well as Harry Potter.

Avoiding berating and shaming is a pretty good payoff, but the cost of hiding is invisibility. I’m hiding the proverbial light under a bushel. Hiding feels safe, but it keeps me isolated from my tribe. It prevents me from finding people who would support me and would like my writing. It keeps me from feeling fully alive.

Are you hiding from something creatively? It might feel safer to avoid the spotlight or taking a creative risk or revealing some truth you’ve experienced or learned, but this is a false safety and it doesn’t compare to the glow of community, growth, and success.

Let’s come out of hiding together.