NOTE: This is part 3 of a 4-part series on creativity. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here and part 4 here.

Here are five questions to determine if you’re self-sabotaging.

1. How am I still living out the messages from my childhood – being told my opinion didn’t matter or that I was a genius and didn’t have to study my craft or that I would never be as good as…?

Those hidden blocks are in many of us. We also may have had a parent who snooped in our diary/journal or was an established videographer or who taught photography. If none of that is true for you, you are still bombarded with media message about who a real writer, photographer or artist is. Try writing a conversation with your creative self and ask it what it remembers.

2. Am I confusing getting high or loaded with being creative?

Smoking pot can feel like a boost for your work – until you realize that weeks have gone by and you’ve never brought your great stoned ideas into reality. And drinking? It’s brought generations of writers, poets, photographer, movie-makers, artists, musicians down. Coke? Ask Robert Downey, Jr. Only you know how to answer this question – and the answer is nobody else’s business – but sometimes a good friend will tell you what you don’t want to hear.

3. Have I fallen into the trap (happens a lot for creatives who have the gift right out of the gate) of too much praise and exposure too early?

It’s easy these days with what seem to be a near-infinite range of opportunities to have our work experienced by the public. And it’s easy to start chasing publication at all costs – yeah, so the website isn’t that great, but it’s “Exposure!!!” Then there is the trap of working for free – but it’s “Exposure!!!”

4. Are you listening to the Big Biological Clock? Do you imagine that you can juggle your creative life and a partner and kids?

Before you jump into those 35-hour days, talk with friends and colleagues who are playing that balancing game. The sit-coms and diaper ads make it look so easy. We each have a finite amount of creative energy – though sometimes it feels like its endless – and that energy can only stretch so far.

5. Have you fallen into the Evil American Trap of “busy busy busy”?

There’s no honor in racing from one project to another to your day job to your work-out to your… Here’s a reference on this contemporary addiction. I wrote it for women, but I meet more and more male creatives who are driving themselves into exhaustion. A wiped-out “maker” makes nothing with fire in its heart.

It is one thing to answer these questions honestly – it will be another to make the changes in your life that will honor the gift(s) you were born with.

[Photo: Dawn Ashley]