Is your Inner Critic is at large and in charge?
Last week we talked about facing obstacles in art and life and how acknowledging both our inner artist and inner critic can be an important tool for growth. Today let’s discuss the cues you need to be mindful of to cultivate your inner artist rather than your inner critic.
You always say no to creative opportunities that come your way.
I believe in Marie Forleo’s No Train. We often say yes to too many things which then, in fact, can hold us back from being creative. Then a loved one told me when art opportunities come her way she always says no. It got me thinking and I can see all kinds of creatives doing this: blurting out no to a magazine feature, saying they don’t have time to run a one day workshop, or to price their paintings for a local gallery. They’d rather be making art. But is this truly aligned with your goals and dreams? Or is this your inner critic’s attempt to protect you from possible disapproval or failure? (If you want to see the No Train jump in around 4:30 for the video).
You spend more time thinking about how your creative risk can go wrong than you do on what can go well.
While I’m a believer that being proactive is better than reactive, if we spend all of our time thinking about what can go wrong without considering the positive results of acting on an idea, we may choose not to try at all.
For years I’ve had this idea of creating a graphic novel. I have no illustration skill or background and I have no clue about the first thing to do with panels, composition or layout of such a project. For years I’ve talked about it. Finally, I signed up for a class with Emerson University so I can build towards a certificate in graphic novel design.
I’m currently taking a class on the history of comic books. I love it! And now I have some built in accountability to help me towards this goal. Despite having many tools available to me without this class, I kept listening to my inner critic giving me all the reasons it was a bad idea to try. No more.
You hear an inner “I told you so” every time you take a risk and something goes wrong.
Have you tried something out that felt a bit scary and outside of your comfort zone? What was the first thing you said to yourself when something went wrong? Was it, “what have I learned from this?” or “I told you it wouldn’t work out.” I’m sure you can guess which one is your inner critic!?
As we all know, not every experiment works in our favor. The Last Supper is a perfect example of an experiment with artist materials that went horribly wrong. Because of da Vinci’s unique mixing of oil and tempera and then placing it on dry wall the paint did not adhere. So much of the original paint has fallen off some restoration experts suggest none of his original marks are left. Despite this, our world is better for having seen such technical and skill-based progress in the arts.
Risk-taking does not equate with constant success. It means trial and error, learning from mistakes and getting new ideas because of those very experiments!
Instead of hearing our inner critic, let’s listen to our inner artist.
Is this art opportunity worthy of my time?
Rather than saying no to every art opportunity that comes your way, ask yourself, “Why do I want to immediately say no? Am I overbooked or is the idea threatening in some way?” If you feel challenged by it I encourage you to say yes despite those feelings of concern. Find a way. Learn the difference between actual disinterest and your inner critic attempting to protect you from possible failure or rejection.
What positive outcomes can come of my new project/idea/art adventure?
When you begin to brainstorm a new creative project, instead of focusing on possible obstacles, why not focus on all of the outcomes? List the positive outcomes and lessons from conducting your creative experiment. Create a focus on the good that comes from exploration.
Create comebacks for your inner critic.
And lastly, find a comeback for each I told you so. Each and every time you hear your inner critic calling you out, retort with at least two lessons you’ve learned that positively impact future art because of this particular experiment.
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: What are two positive outcomes from your last creative experiment? I want to know! Let’s talk about them in the comments below.