It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. I’ve been busy finishing up my latest book and submitting articles for publication and that’s where my writing energy has been channeled lately (and of course, into my obsessive journaling habit).
Folks have been congratulating me and some even seem amazed at my ability to produce books and articles. And while I appreciate the kind support, I really don’t want this to seem like something particularly special or mysterious.
We all have things we’re good at and things we love to do. (Sometimes we love to do things we’re not so good at and that’s cool too). I write because I love it and I need to do it for my sanity and well-being. If it’s of benefit to others, then I’m honored and thrilled. But I do it because of a fire inside of me. I do it because I can’t imagine not doing it. And I’m starting to share it because I keep being reminded that inspiration comes to us, moves through us, in order to enter the world.
Yes, it takes intention, focus, determination and dedication to write a book. It’s a lot of work, don’t get me wrong. But it’s a labor of love. The older I get the deeper my gratitude and awe for the mysteries of creative inspiration that move through me, you, all of us, to enter into culture.
I think a lot about the creative impulse – the urge to act on it and the decision not to. Like all creative people (and I believe we all are), I have my own peculiar dance with creative inspiration. I live with two artists and work with a lot of arts-identified folks in my private practice and in the groups I lead, so I have plenty of real-life case studies at my disposal.
Something that comes up a lot in my work with folks is a deep longing to live a creative life – writing, painting, singing, cooking, landscaping, etc. – and the paralyzing fears, doubts, self-criticisms, etc. that stop them. It’s so incredibly painful for them and it’s painful to watch. And I am not immune. I know this intimately from the inside…needing to create and at times denying myself the right to do so.
One of the biggest blocks seems to be a fear of criticism – from self and others. I know brilliant, intelligent, talented people who habitually beat themselves up for not being “good enough.” When I hear this I always wonder and usually ask, “Good enough for who?” Sometimes it’s the usual suspects: myself, my parents, respected teachers, talented peers, and so on. Sometimes it’s an imagined heartless, hostile, and condemning “public.” (Pretty easy to imagine given the critiquing, criticizing, and even bullying that goes on in social media and other online platforms).
I’ve had my share of negative, even scathing criticism and at moments it has tripped me up too. While it’s never stopped me from creating, it has certainly stopped me from sharing. And that’s just sad. There’s always going to be haters that hate on us because that’s just what they do (usually a sign of envy or insecurity or cowardice covered over with arrogance).
There’s going to be critics who find flaws in most everything because they’re looking for them under a magnifying glass, because that’s just what they do. Some people simply won’t like what we create. We’re all entitled to our opinions. (I personally try to respect the courage it takes to be a creator and sharer, even if I don’t care for the creation and I appreciate this kindness in others).
If we get caught up in caring what other people think of our creative work (the negative and the positive critiques), we’re wasting our energy and, frankly, being distracted from doing the creative work we’re longing to, perhaps needing to do.
I have to continually remind myself and the creative peeps I know and work with to not get hung up on criticism, fear, or doubt. While it feels sucky to have someone say nasty things about your work (including yourself!), it’s not catastrophic, not literally. Don’t let it derail you. Don’t let it kill your joy, silence your voice, or make you put down your paint brush. You have the right to express yourself. We all do.
And for those of you who like to critique and criticize, please, at least ask yourself why. Where does that urge come from and what do you get from it? I think we all know by now that a critique always says more about the critic than the object of scrutiny. How we feel about something has more to do with us than the thing.
So for all my sensitive creative people out there, keep this in mind when someone hates on you or your work. And please, PLEASE don’t let it stop you from being you and expressing you in whatever creative way you damn well feel like!
Do it for you. Do it for your own well-being, your own relief, your own happiness. You can chose to share your work or not (I hope you do share with someone, at least). But for heaven’s sake, don’t block your own creative flow out of fear of the mean people (and please don’t be a mean person yourself). The world needs your creative mind and your creative voice. Nobody’s going to do it like you do. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason.
So, go give fear the finger and get your creative groove on. You are good enough and you deserve to do it.