Creative courage is an essential element in any creative process. In order to unleash your creative potential, you must gather your creative energy and channel it into bringing into this world a piece of yourself that wasn’t there before, and that’s not for the faint-hearted!
Every time you share pieces of your work publicly, you run the risk of feeling rejected and judged as you open a window into your creative self that tells the world a little more about you, the maker! Sharing opens the doors of vulnerability, but it also gives you an opportunity to grow.
Being at the crossroads of vulnerability and growth takes courage!
Over the past few months I have been struggling, big time, with my creative nemesis – SELF DOUBT. I have had to gather up the courage to keep moving forward with my creative life, or risk the possibility of paralysis.
To be entirely honest with you, self-doubt and I are long time acquaintances! Occasionally I might hang out with other creative demons like perfectionism, creative block, procrastination and distraction. If it wasn’t for the presence of creative courage in my life, I wouldn’t be in a position to hone my craft and develop my skills – I would have given up on my creative dreams long ago :(.
French artist, Henri Matisse, is quoted as saying,
“CREATIVITY TAKES COURAGE”
I would add, ‘creativity takes courage, and creative courage requires action‘.
In order to dispel the things that hold you back, you have to be willing to act.
Let’s not forget Nike’s iconic words of wisdom,
“JUST DO IT”
Over the past few months I have been translating creative courage into action by focusing on a few simple things – perhaps these ideas will resonate with you too…
Put Gas in the Tank
My last journal entry focused on the fact that creativity requires energy, and this knowledge has been a great source of empowerment for me during the times I am struggling to create. Being more aware and respectful of my own energy levels, has made such a difference in how I feel about the time I spend creating in the studio.
Knowing the things that both fuel, and deplete my energy levels has helped to bring perspective to my creative pursuits. If I want to create something of quality, then I need to be at my emotional and physical best.
As silly as it seems, I feel as though I have given myself permission to create at a pace that works for me – I know what my output will be, depending on my energy input.
Run Your Own Race
Let’s be honest, social media has a lot to do with how we feel about our own creative self-esteem. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is an easy trap to fall into!
If I was to believe all I see and hear on Instagram, and actually compare my own creative life to the lives of many of my favourite makers – then I might find myself wanting to permanently hibernate for the winter!!
As hard as it can be, I have endeavoured to recognise the difference between inspiration and creative distraction. I have been striving to stay true to the projects and ideas that bring me joy, even if those ideas aren’t the ones trending in the community.
While I love to be inspired by what everyone around me is making, I have been trying to let the inspiration simply be a source of joy, and nothing more, while I focus on working my way through my WIPs, and projects that resonate deeply with me. It’s definitely easier said than done, but for the time being, it feels right – for me!!
I recently shared my thoughts on being a creative introvert here. Both distraction and productivity can be a by-product of an introverted personality, and I have definitely experienced recent periods of both. Knowing my own personality strengths and weaknesses helps me to focus my energy in the right places. Have you taken the time to consider how your own personality traits may affect your creativity?
Let It Go
Every creative person that has ever walked on this earth has had to battle with their own unique creative demons. So, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to find my own rising to the surface every now and then!
Self-doubt is one of my biggest obstacles, and while I think a little bit of self-doubt is perfectly normal – perhaps even healthy; it does become a problem when it begins to boil and overflow into my creative mental space.
I challenged myself at the beginning of the year to submit some of my work for publication. For some reason, this idea has really exacerbated my self-doubt.
Note to self – Let It Go!!!
Doubt and nervousness are not unique to any individual. Even when things are going well, self-doubt has a way of creeping up on you, and the best thing to do is appreciate the role it plays in your creativity; own it, know you are not alone, and move on!
Creative Demons Are Real
The simple truth is, creative demons exist not because of a lack of talent or creativity, but simply because we are human. We can attempt to conquer them, but the most we will ever do is hold them at bay.
If we struggle to be creative at times, it is because we are trying to give life to something that wasn’t there before. It is important to do the work, despite the demons!
I recognise how important it is to trust my instincts, despite my self-doubt and other creative demons!! It takes courage to put creative demons into perspective and see them for what they truly are – a sign that we have a deep connection to our work!
Courage is not a character trait I have ready access to in my personality files, but it is something I know is vital to creative success ;).
The good news is, courage isn’t always an act of boldness, sometimes it is the little things…
- You don’t need permission to work at your own pace.
- Your creative experience is yours alone. Honour your own truth. Create with intention.
- Work with your personality type – not against it!
- You are not alone in questioning your creative self.
- And don’t forget, we all need an extra measure of courage every now and then – both to conquer our creative demons, and to share our work.
I hope by sharing this part of my own journey I have encouraged you to embrace any anxiety you may have; walk your own creative path, and share your creations with the world!
Every quilt you make tells the story of you – and I can’t think of a better reason to create from your heart!
Let me know what fuels your creative courage – I love to hear from you!
Create joy, quilty friends!
Your Harvest Market Quilt is beautiful and interesting. I had think about it a bit. It certainly caught my attention. I saw on the side more of your work. I’ve just never gotten into Istagram. I can’t seem to get it onto my phone. Your work is gorgeous and I wish I could see more of it here. Maybe that’s not the way things are done today. I’m in the older generation. I know what you mean about creativity. I was not a good writer in school. I had no problem when I got a job in business and had to write factual notes about business. Even when I went back to school and my writing was based on literature in education, I had no problem writing. I had trouble expressing my opinions because I was a younger (obviously not a little kid) person in thinking and age among my peers. I started college at 17 and most were at least 18 and much more grown up. Now, I’m being encouraged by a lady who taught senior English until this past school year and a pastor at church to write a book. It’s a book most biographical, if not all, and it’s about abuse and recovery. It’s very deep and I’m just setting the stage about my birth family. Sometimes a page will just fly off my finger tips and other times I can’t get a word to emerge. I haven’t quilted basically in five years since my second husband died. I was ready to quilt again, took my machine in for service at a different place because I was dissatisfied with the machine, and found out she was dead. I haven’t replaced her yet. So, my creativity is geared toward the book and knitting. Best of luck with your creativity and your march forward. Polonius: This above all: to thine own self be true,
Nicola Dodd says
My lovely friend, you always write so eloquently: paragraph four hits the nail on the head!
I’ve always tried to tell myself that doubt is self criticism. It keeps me editing my ideas until they’re the best they can be. But it also compels me to find something wrong in the finished piece of work!
When I was training as an Architect we had weekly ‘Crits’. Work had to be pinned on the wall, presented and, essentially, defended in front of our lecturers and fellow students. The purpose was to ready us for presenting work to clients (who would be paying, after all), but I found it terrifying. Social media can feel a bit like that sometimes, can’t it?!
I have an awful feeling that questioning ourselves and our work constantly is what makes us care so very deeply about what we are creating. And what will ultimately make us happier with the result…well, sort of… xx