10 August 2012

Top Five Friday: Shutting Up the Critics

The cost of not pursuing a dream is greater than the cost of failure. 
~ Jeff Goins
 T
he way of the creative soul is hard.  We are misunderstood, maligned, and often, the people who should be the loudest in our cheering section, are the biggest naysayers.

This is certainly true in my own life.  I am blessed to have a small, but heavy-hitting cheering section ~ people who love and accept me unconditionally and offer both honest encouragement and constructive criticism.    

Photo credit: 123rf.com

But human nature being what it is, one rotten apple spoils the entire bushel. It is a mystery to me why what one negative person says carries more weight than the accolades of five positive people.  But there it is. 

And the biggest naysayer in my life is always close at hand, ready to pounce on every mistake, every false step.  Even all my successes carry a taint of “could have been better/not good enough.”  “Who is this wretched person!?” you cry indignantly, “Keep away from them as much as possible!”  But that would require an out of body experience.

Because I am my own worst enemy and my harshest critic.

Shouting Down and Shutting Out
Scientific American had an article in February of this year on the bias against creativity.  Although many say they value innovation and people who ‘think outside the box’, when it comes to practice, being innovative means taking risks, and most people are risk-adverse.  And by risk adverse, I mean, failure-adverse.

No one likes to fail.

But innovation doesn’t exist apart from failure.  News flash, dear readers: no one is perfect.  No one succeeds on the first try.  As great as Michael Phelps is, he didn’t come out of the womb doing a killer backstroke.  He had to learn how to swim; had to discipline his body and his mind to become faster than the best in the world.

So what is a beaten up creative to do?  Obviously, we must surround ourselves with positive and supportive and wise people.  And we need to drown out the naysayers as much as possible. 

As a visual/verbal creative, that means I read every article, post, book, and essay on creativity and artistic encouragement I can find.  Invariably, two things happen:

1) I’m comforted and inspired by the realization that I’m not alone;
2) My creative bottom gets kicked into gear and I go create something.

Today, I give you the top five articles that shut down my biggest critic and flamed the creative fires this week:

Jeff Goins is one of my favorite writers/bloggers on creativity and the art of writing.  His style is easy on the eyes and is always practical.  It’s like having a personal writing trainer.  I may complain about the pain of being creative, but those groaning muscles get toned and built up with every post he writes.  Here, he reminds us how important art and creativity is, how vital we are to life of the world and our social circle.

Personal boundaries are important for everyone, but especially for creative souls.  For whatever reason, our work isn’t seen as work (if I sweat blood every time I sat down at my desk, would that convince you?!!?), and since many of us work out of a home office, the boundary lines are more apt to get blurred. 

On top of that, most of us come from dysfunctional families where boundaries were ignored trampled on, and/or destroyed.  So a lot of healing needs to take place if those necessary fences are to be mended properly.  I’m a big advocate of seeking wise professional help ~ sadly, there are a lot of idiot shrinks out there who simply add new wounds to the old.
I’ve never met Steve Edge, but I love him already.  His advice to dress for a party every day and the party will come to you is very wise.  If you wait for inspiration, for the right time, the right place ~ the Muse may pass you by.  We’re only given today, not promised tomorrow.  So put on your party outfit and create.

Best story: how he re-branded DB Restorations.  Brilliant.
Changing your routine up is a good way to shake off negative thoughts and nasty comments.  Last Tuesday, I started a new art therapy class.  It’s been years since I’ve picked up a paintbrush, but once I started mixing colours and exploring shades and tones, the joy of sweeping the brush across the paper filled up my tired heart and began to heal old scarred wounds.
Another great article by Jeff Goins.  He talks about how the curse of perfectionism is part and parcel of being a creative: we keep striving to get our project to look just like the ideal vision we see in our minds’ eye. 

As long as the ideal vision doesn’t prevent us from actually bringing it to life, than use it to keep reaching and creating.

In the end, the best way to silence the critics ~ whether internal or external ~ is to create every day that we’re given.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

What are the ways you shut out the naysayers and self-doubt?  What articles have inspired you?  Please share with us!
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