So, yeah—here’s a trick: Stop complaining.
Trust me on this. Trust Werner Herzog on this, too.
There are so many good reasons to stop complaining if you want to live a more creative life.
First of all, it’s annoying. Every artist complains, so it’s a dead and boring topic. (From the volume of complaints that emerges from the professional creative class, you would think these people had been sentenced to their vocations by an evil dictator, rather than having chosen their work with a free will and an open heart.)
Second, of course it’s difficult to create things; if it wasn’t difficult, everyone would be doing it, and it wouldn’t be special or interesting.
Third, nobody ever really listens to anybody else’s complaints, anyhow, because we’re all too focused on our own holy struggle, so basically you’re just talking to a brick wall.
Fourth, and most important, you’re scaring away inspiration. Every time you express a complaint about how difficult and tiresome it is to be creative, inspiration takes another step away from you, offended. It’s almost like inspiration puts up its hands and says, “Hey, sorry, buddy! I didn’t realize my presence was such a drag. I’ll take my business elsewhere.”
I have felt this phenomenon in my own life, whenever I start complaining. I have felt the way my self-pity slams the door on inspiration, making the room feel suddenly cold, small, and empty. That being the case, I took this path as a young person: I started telling myself that I enjoyed my work. I proclaimed that I enjoyed every single aspect of my creative endeavors—the agony and the ecstasy, the success and the failure, the joy and the embarrassment, the dry spells and the grind and the stumble and the confusion and the stupidity of it all.
I even dared to say this aloud.
I told the universe (and anyone who would listen) that I was committed to living a creative life not in order to save the world, not as an act of protest, not to become famous, not to gain entrance to the canon, not to challenge the system, not to show the bastards, not to prove to my family that I was worthy, not as a form of deep therapeutic emotional catharsis . . . but simply because I liked it.
So try saying this: “I enjoy my creativity.”
And when you say it, be sure to actually mean it.
For one thing, it will freak people out. I believe that enjoying your work with all your heart is the only truly subversive position left to take as a creative person these days. It’s such a gangster move, because hardly anybody ever dares to speak of creative enjoyment aloud, for fear of not being taken seriously as an artist. So say it. Be the weirdo who dares to enjoy.
Best of all, though, by saying that you delight in your work, you will draw inspiration near. Inspiration will be grateful to hear those words coming out of your mouth, because inspiration—like all of us—appreciates being appreciated. Inspiration will overhear your pleasure, and it will send ideas to your door as a reward for your enthusiasm and your loyalty.
More ideas than you could ever use.
Enough ideas for ten lifetimes.