Lies that Clog your Creative Channels

Do you ever feel that you have incredible creative potential, you just can’t seem to create anything that satisfies you? Do you feel creatively blocked, like the ideas don’t flow, or that actually making something is akin to pulling teeth? Are you afraid to show your creations to others?

I feel these feelings sometimes, and at times they’ve completely ruled my creative life. Let me tell you, this led to a lot of frustration and questioning my own creativity and abilities.

I’ve spent some time thinking about this, and here are some false notions that tend to clog up our creativity:

  • Everything I create must be “good”- We look at other famous creators; artists, musicians, writers, etc. and think “Look how amazing all of their work is! I should be like that, or I have no business being creative.” Inspiration and aspiration is great, but often we compare their best to our worst. Remember, the stuff we see from famous creators is the good stuff that got publish/exhibited/performed. We don’t see the garbage can full of crumpled up sonnets or closets full of less-than gallery-quality paintings. Your job isn’t to judge your work. Your job is to make it. The more you make, they better you’ll get and the more “good” stuff you’ll have. Also, “good” is a completely subjective title.
  • Everything I create must be completely original: To be perfectly honest, we draw inspiration from things around us, and if we have an idea, there’s a good chance that someone else has had a similar idea. It’s ok. We are unique people, and we can create things in a unique way, even if something like it has been done before. Once again, it’s not our place to judge it, it’s our job to make it.
  • Originality is dead– One of my college art professors said this often. Whether it’s true or not, it’s not a good thing for an artist to say, at least not for me. I wrestled with this one for years, struggling to find some logical conclusion, to find a pulse of originality somewhere. I’ve found that the best way to deal with this idea is to ignore it, devalue it. Whether it’s original or not, it’s you. It’s your way of creating it, not anyone else’s. Don’t worry whether originality is dead in a ditch or alive and well. I won’t even worry about those two clichés I just wrote.
  • My Creations must match my original vision How many times have you given up on a project because it wasn’t turning out the way you wanted it to? Does your work ever take a life of its own and grow into something completely different that what you had envisioned? It’s scary when your idea morphs into something you feel like you can’t handle. Here’s a secret: letting ideas evolve, both in your mind and in the real world as a tangible thing, is part of the creative process. It’s beautiful. Ideas are living things, and they never stop growing. They’re like babies, they grow inside us for a period of time, then we give birth to them and they continue to grow, and we can’t really control them. We can influence them, we can care for them, enable them or put our foot down and hope that works, but in the end, the idea is its own being. Your duty as the creator is to let it grow.
  • I must be like (insert name of other creative person) – We should absolutely be inspired by other creative people. We should follow in their footsteps, learn from them and their careers. However, we don’t have to be them.  We don’t have to look like them, we don’t have to write like them, or market like them. We don’t have to use their methods if they don’t suit us. We don’t have to change our brands or personalities to be more like theirs. We are en0ugh. Our essence, our own uniqueness is enough, and to try to be someone else is a waste.

Do a regular cleaning of your creative channel, especially if you’re in a period full of things that tend to clog it up. Keep your head clean of these ideas. Be your personal creative channel plumber. As ridiculous as that last metaphor was, it’s true.

Keep those pipes clean.

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Posted on December 1, 2011, in Authenticity, Creativity, Fear and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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