2 min read

Is this contrived?

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” — STEPHEN KING

I’ve been told that the way I approach creativity can feel contrived. Needless to say, it left some lasting insecurities. I’m self-conscious about it, and I know many others are too.

So what do I mean by being contrived? Essentially, it means being forceful in our work. It doesn’t feel quite natural or organic. A friend would see it and say, ‘that doesn’t sound like the real you.’ Like a used car salesman, It feels like a pitch for something and less like an expression of the person who made it.

It’s basically impossible to connect with things that feel forced or disingenuous. You can smell it from a mile away, and it immediately turns you off from their work.

The problem is, the person making it probably doesn’t feel that way. In fact, they have no idea how it’s coming off. They’re still trying to figure out their own creative voice and will probably find it over time the more they make.

This approach, just working until you find your voice, is very offensive to the invisible rules of authentic creation... and that is a good thing.

The Invisible Rules Of Authentic Creation

The label above is a funny term, but I believe it holds a lot of truth.

We have this strange desire to produce a lot of good work, but we have these invisible rules about how it gets made. It feels phony unless it comes from deep inspiration, or strong feelings and by the winds of motivation. You don’t want to try too hard to make it happen. The work should just sort of...happen.

This way of thinking makes having a plan or clear goals feel dirty, and like you’re diluting the project down to something phony.

I have to ask, how’s that approach working out for you? In my experience, I’ve always been disappointed with how little I actually make with this way of thinking.

My argument is that you’re still finding your voice, and I am still finding mine. But it’s better to find out who you are on the field, then to sit idle on the sideline and wait for your moment to come.

Because your moment will never come. Not unless you’ve put yourself in the game.

I am here to say, you can get in the game and not lose your soul. There is a way to be productive without it being contrived.

Finding your voice in the process

I believe there are ways to help yourself not only create more often but to also do it without it feeling contrived. Here are some thoughts on how to approach it.

1) Having a plan is not contrived.

Having a plan is saying, ‘I care enough to try help myself succeed.’

2) Listen to yourself during the creative process.

Ask yourself, ‘Does this resonate with me? Does this align with who I truly am?’ in real-time. You’ll change quickly if you start sensing that you’re forcing it too much.

3) Showing up often is not contrived.

There will be days you don’t feel like it, but are you going to let that stop you from finding your voice? Showing up isn’t contrived, it’s saying yes to your creative journey.

As Stephen King put it in his memoir, On Writing;

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

So which is worse—making something and working out the kinks to eventually find your authentic voice? Or never making anything at all because it feels contrived to try?