In Creativity, Family, Reflection

passion persistence


My younger son is passionate kid. When he gets a vision for a project, he is driven to see it through. If you’ve been a regular reader over the years you’ve seen his over-the-top birthday parties and Halloween costumes and just how involved he is with them.


steampunk halloweenHalloween 2013 Steam Punk costume


Recently he wrote a fantasy/action mini-novel full of dragons and mythology for a class assignment. The story just poured out of him. He was so proud of it, he printed out extra copies to hand out for friends and family to read. Inspired, he decided to write another story. But this time he was stuck. And frustrated. He had an idea (steam punk dragons in outer space) but he couldn’t get started. I suggested that he draw for a bit and let the story come to him. He drew something, but it wasn’t “good enough”. He sat at the computer and tried to write. Nothing. “Mom, why can’t I do this? I WANT to write this story but it’s not happening!” That would be a creative block, sweetheart. I feel your pain!


boy sketching

Sketches in progress by S. White


We went for a walk and I tried to explain how sometimes taking a break and not thinking about a problem will bring you an answer. I told him about the Ira Glass piece in which Ira explains that in order to be really good at something, you’re probably going to be really bad at it first, but keep trying. I think this happens a lot. You try a new thing you are interested in, you stink at it, and you quit. Or you persist! Know that you will stink at it because you are new and then push through that. I told him about the John Cleese presentation about Creativity and about that awkward, painful period of creative thinking that you endure before the big breakthrough. You have to give yourself time, even if it feels uncomfortable. He listened, we walked. I think he got it.

The best part about parenting is relearning the lessons you’re teaching your children right along with them. They’re growing and we continue to grow with them. I’m not sure if I really helped him that day, but he’s still drawing and still writing and that’s what’s important. Don’t let the passion fade. Keep trying, you’ll get better at it. You may not live up to your own expectations at first. But excellence will come with persistence! These are lessons I learn myself, over and over again.

Is there a passion of yours that took time and persistence to cultivate? How did you push through the uncomfortable parts?

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Showing 12 comments
  • Cindy

    Wow! I think he got his creative side from you! What a talent he has. When I get stuck or frustrated, I will step away and do something else. Anything else. I give it a day or so then I come back with a fresh perspective and try again. It works for me :)

    • Betz White

      Aw, thanks, I’ll pass that along to him. Re: taking a break…I like to “sleep on it”. Any excuse for a nap! :)

  • Becky

    Whenever I complain that something is too difficult and I’ll “never get it,” my husband likes to remind me that I was literally in tears the first few weeks I tried to learn to knit. That was nine years ago, and now I knit every single day of my life, have taught knitting classes and even sell some of my knitting on Etsy. But I always remind my kids (9 and 6) of that when they are struggling. What if I had given up? I would have missed out on something that has become one of my favorite things.

    • Betz White

      Amazing! That’s a great example for your kids, too.

  • sandyharsh

    I really enjoy your posts! The creative process can get stuck, but as you noted, sometimes you just have to relax your mind and let it open up.

    • Betz White

      Thank you, Sandy. Sometimes that’s the hardest part. :)

  • Erin Harris

    As someone who is stuck a little bit at this moment, this was the perfect thing for me to read. I “know” all these things (it’s going to be bad, take time, keep pushing), but I sure need a reminder. Thanks, Betz.

    • Betz White

      Happy to help, Erin! Watching the videos I linked to might help, too. Hope you get unstuck soon!

  • Laurette Chandler

    When I am stuck I usually do something repetitive like cutting out shapes or strips for quilting, something I do not have to think too much about but it is creative. I will also reorganize my fabrics or craft supplies, just by handling them my creative block breaks and I am flooded with fresh ideas.

    • Betz White

      Great ideas! I call that cross-training. It’s still on task or related to what you’re working on but it gives that problem solving part of your brain a break.

  • Rebekah

    Can you tell him that I think his drawings are amazing and if he’s this good NOW he can only get more awesome. Tell him that :) I’m sure it’ll boost his creative esteem a bit further hearing it from a total stranger.

    We also need constant validation that what we do as artists/writers is something of value. I often find that validation is more rewarding when it comes unexpectedly at times we are most sapped of creativity.

    Also I don’t know how big of books he’s keen on, but tell him to start reading Brandon Sanderson’s stuff. His latest series, The Stormlight Archive, has great illustrations thru the entire book. It sounds like something that would totally be up his alley.

    • Betz White

      Thanks, Rebekah! I’m sure he will appreciate your comments.He’s a huge reader so I will definitely pass along your recommendation.

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