The ability to be creative and use that creativity as an avenue to express ourselves and make a statement is a gift. It’s a gift that our generation is doing an excellent job at unwrapping perfectly. When it comes to creativity, for most, it is doing what you are genuinely passionate about, and this can be nerve-racking. Our art, music, photography, writing, etc. are an outward expression of our most authentic selves and often times our most vulnerable selves. Because creativity and art come from such a personal place, it becomes quite easy to blur the lines between your work and your identity. This leads to too many artists undervaluing what they are and overvaluing what they are not. This kind of self-deprecation is a flaw and a chink in your armour that can slow you down. You have to appreciate your art no matter how small and inconsequential you think it is.
Yes, you should always try to improve on your work, continue to seek inspiration and grow as an artist and creative, but you should also not let failures, setbacks or temporary inadequacies define you. With consistency and practice, you will get better. Play to your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses while constantly seeking to grow. Be inspired by others and celebraye their achievements with them while avoiding unhealthy comparisons and sometimes jealousy.
Another notable problem is that many define their success by the number of people that agree with or clap for them. You know, by the number of likes and followers for example. Too often, the need for validation comes prematurely, and that constant attention-seeking (even if for legitimate reasons) can derail your creative authenticity, mess with your process, and even worse, dampen your inspiration. Being able to translate all the creative yearnings in your heart and bring your creative visions to life should be what brings you true fulfillment. As with most things in life, when you stay true to yourself and continue to do better work, the validation will come organically.
Play to your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses while continually seeking to grow. Be inspired by others while avoiding unhealthy comparisons and sometimes jealousy.
They say clarity is the gift of hindsight. I once fell into this trap of the need for validation and the need to fit into what everyone did. It made me start to create for the sake of getting noticed and for the sake of fitting in with trends. This led me to create work that I could not identify with, was low quality, and that I will forever be ashamed of. Don’t get carried away by needing to be on the world stage that you lose sight of who you are. To rephrase a popular quote: “Know thy creative-self.”
If you find yourself falling into this dark hole of self-doubt or you feel like you are losing sight of who you are as a creative, you can take these points below to heart to help you find your way back.
Seek Constructive Criticism
Criticism when constructive can be a great instrument of growth. Find a mentor or someone who you trust and respect to give you feedback on your work and together you can identify areas you can improve and grow and also identify areas where you are getting it right. It is a healthy and needed aspect of creativity.
You must always go through your work and identify areas you can improve. You should always seek to do better. Also be reflective about your sources of inspiration. You’ll realize that as you grow as an artist or creator, the things that inspire you also change and so do your interests and what you spend your time on. Be intentional about this, so your path is better defined and not formed by random whims.
“Know thy creative-self.”
Reading and Journaling
Reading and journaling is a form of introspection. But with journaling, you get to step away from your art and creative zone and use your mind in a different way. Journaling is a form of meditation that forces you to write down and process your thoughts which increases self-awareness. Reading inspirational books, coming of age books, good fiction books or articles will help you grow and make you a more well-rounded individual. These two activities create a sort of quiet, and this ultimately makes you a better creator.
Meditation has many benefits that can spread over different aspects of your life. It can make you more focused, reduce stress, increase mindfulness and cognition and even sharpen your memory. A lot of these benefits are scientifically proven and many who have tried it swear by it. So if you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed or if you’re just seeking improvement in your routine, think about adding meditation to your daily life. You should start small and don’t feel pressure to get it right immediately. From personal experience I’ve learned that it takes a lot of practice and effort to be able to shut my mind off for just five minutes. However, once you are able to get started you slowly get the hang of it. Try to use apps like Headspace and Calm as a guide to help you get started.