Writers and Artists on Creative Habits, Accepting Self-Doubt, and the Rewards of Perseverance

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Anyone who writes, draws, paints, sculpts — anyone who creates — knows two things: inspiration and discovery (the twin muses) visit those who sit down and do the work and perseverance is often its own reward.

Sometimes the blank page stares back. At times like these, a gentle nudge can help. Here’s some thinking, advice, and encouragement from working writers and artists we’ve featured on Discover.


Mica Angela Hendricks is an artist and author who loves to collaborate with her young daughter on detailed, fantastical illustrations. Check out her work at Busy Mockingbird.

Mica Angela Hendricks on pulling that thread of interest and giving your creative endeavor a shot:

What motivates me is just wondering if I can do something. I’ve not been trained in embroidery, for example, but at one time it really interested me, so I wanted to see if I could work it into my drawings by stitching into the paper. I teach myself everything I can about something, and then jump in and give it a try. I’ve done the same with sculpting, sewing, resin casting, jewelry, miniature portraits, painting on insects, and more. Basically, anything that interests me! I educate myself a bit, and then jump in and see how it works out.

Embroidery experiments: adding textures with stitching.
Mica Angela Hendricks’ embroidery experiments: adding textures to her art with stitching.

Ann Morgan read 196 books in 2012. The project spawned her book, The World Between Two Covers, and informed her novel, Beside Myself. Learn more about the project and its outcomes.

Ann Morgan on how her side project, A Year of Reading the World, influenced her creatively:

In many ways, A Year of Reading the World played a big part in this book [Beside Myself] because I would never have developed my creative writing in the way I have if it hadn’t been for all the mind-expanding and inventive translated literature I’ve read during and since 2012.

Ann Morgan
Ann Morgan.

We featured Jack Todd᾿s work in a celebration of the Quebec Writers’ Federation.

Jack Todd, from “Writing Tragedy,” on embracing self-doubt as a writer:

If you choose to write you will have to accept that you will always fall short, that you will come up against the boundaries of talent and perception, that you will always feel some more profound truth lies just beyond your grasp.

–“Writing Tragedy” by Jack Todd


Danny Gregory has written nearly a dozen best-selling books on art and creativity and is the co-founder of Sketchbook Skool.

Danny Gregory on creative perseverance:

My advice: keep making and stop critiquing. Don’t ask others’ opinions before you are at a solid solution. And think about how what you are doing matters to the world in some way, how your creativity solves problems or brings joy. Get out of your head and your own concerns and see how you can make a difference with your art. It’s just a drawing, you say? Well, what if drawing something can bring you peace? Or give you an insight you can share? What if that drawing stimulates your imagination so you can solve a problem that’s been vexing your family or your coworkers?

Danny Gregory: self portrait
Danny Gregory: self portrait.

Alec Nevala-Lee is a novelist and freelance writer who blogs every day. Yes. Every day.

Alec Nevala-Lee on the rewards of a creative habit:

But in less tangible respects, the payoff has been enormous. Publishing five hundred words every day has forced me to master a new bag of tricks, and as a result, I’ve become more efficient in every aspect of my working life. Even something as straightforward as the Quote of the Day, which was originally intended to fill space when I didn’t feel like writing a full post, has turned into an education in itself: I publish a new quote day in and day out, even when I have a longer post waiting in the wings, and with fourteen hundred quotes and counting, I’ve had to look further afield to subjects — like coding, architecture, and theater — that offer unexpected perspectives on the creative process.


Sarah Einstein is the author of Mot: A Memoir and numerous essays and short stories. Her work has been awarded a Pushcart Prize, a Best of the Net, and the AWP Prize in Creative Nonfiction.

Sarah Einstein on the power of writing:

And, for me, this is the power of good creative nonfiction. It reminds us to see the world through more than our own jaundiced eyes; it instructs us in what it is to be a person in this world. It offers us opportunities to be better people, because it grants us access to ways of seeing that we don’t ourselves possess.

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For more inspiration and advice, explore our posts on writing, creativity, and art.

May 19, 2016Art, Authors, Inspiration, Writing,