Things That Go Bump in the (Creative) Night

Seriously, there is an outrageous amount of running involved.

For creatives, the monsters that would destroy us are real.

Are you ready to stare them down? To run for your artistic life? To fight for it?

In this post I’m going to describe how some of the monsters from Doctor Who make great metaphors for the demons that haunt us as artists – and more importantly, how to defeat them.

If you’re not a Doctor Who follower this might seem a bit odd, but bear with me. If you are a fan, grab a torch (flashlight), lace up your Converse hi-tops and get ready to run.

Swarmed to Death

Every species in the Universe has an irrational fear of the dark. Except it’s not irrational – it’s the Vashta Nerada.

The Vashta Nerada—also known as the piranhas of the air– are tiny swarming things that live in the shadows (you can see them sometimes – the dust in sunlight).

They are conscienceless carnivores that will eat you in the dark. Light keeps them at bay but ultimately the best defense is to flee.

The Vashta Nerada could be seen to symbolize the swarms of trivia that cast shadows over our creative lives – distractions, busyness, addictions, junk media, junk food, junk “shoulds” …  including doing everything for everyone else except ourselves.

A few of them are harmless, but get enough of them together and they are deadly to our creative output. These tiny demons can’t be fought directly, only run away from.

Stay out of the shadows.

Time Predators

Don’t blink.

The Weeping Angels remind us that we must be vigilant about protecting our creative time.

Angels kill by sending a person back in time and feeding off the life energy that is left behind.  They have one serious weakness: when the lights are on and you are staring them down, they turn to stone. They can only attack when you aren’t looking at them.

The best defense is to confront them, lights on and eyes open, and back away quickly.

Creatives need to take a stand and say no to bad jobs, bad clients, and bad ideas that would steal our most precious and limited asset: our life energy. The people who would use us, demand us to become martyrs, the complainers, that needy person you always seem to have to say yes to – Weeping Angels, all of them.

We can’t afford to be complacent about this—the Angels can kill faster than you can imagine. So don’t look away, and don’t blink.

Silence Will Fall

You should kill us all on sight.

The Silence is a bizarre religious movement made up of aliens (called Silents) that are memory-proof. This means that you can see them just fine, but when you look away you cannot remember what they look like or what they said. Silents have an especially insidious ability to leave post-hypnotic suggestions in their victims’ minds.

Silents remind me most of all of our inner critics. They say nasty things but we usually just brush them off and feel bad (and stop creating), often without ever realizing that we just had a vicious thought directed at our inner artist.

Unlike some other monsters, Silents can be killed. The message here is that we have to fight them (the inner critics) and blast them out of our minds– running won’t work. We have to battle them directly, bring out the big guns, and challenge them with loud brave voices. If we don’t, silence will fall – our artistic and creative silence.

Keep the Lights On

These monsters all use darkness — literal darkness, forgetfulness, or illusion–to kill, just as our creative monsters defeat us when we’re not looking.

So be brave and keep those lights on–and don’t be afraid to run, shout, and fight for your inner artist.

Your life depends on it.

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