the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.
inventiveness, imagination, imaginativeness, innovation, innovativeness, originality, artistry, expressiveness, inspiration, vision, creative power, creative talent, creative gift, creative skill, resourcefulness, ingenuity, enterprise
In the last week or so I have had a few conversations with people around the topic of those moments we have as creative people where we question ourselves and the deep question that we so often ponder; “is this good enough?”. The act of creating is often so vulnerable and living in that place can be rather exhausting. Perhaps in some ways it is also this idea of needing to present a completed work, when in fact the process may be an unfolding one instead (or not; I have experienced both of these). This thought is so beautiful summed up in the words of my poet friend, Kambani Romano, who wrote this as the introduction piece to a collaboration we did a few years ago:
“and when the music
had stopped and the guitars been packed away, the two of us lingered in the
afterglow of their melody. we talked. about how the pressure to present an artwork
as finished was incompatible with the ways we were. as if a work – apart from the
one finished work – can be called complete in a lifetime.
you could say we were exploring an aspect of what Derrida calls aporia. nonways.
the impossibility of arriving at an end while pressing on toward one. in truth,
we were longing for new ways of being. paths not yet made in the back-alleys
where we walked. for us, the walking was as important as the destination: Gan
Eden. and the journey back to the Garden almost as precious as the Garden itself.
because every step along the narrow road is holy ground.
in my lounge, we stood on holy ground. for the briefest moment, eternity”
(If you would like to experience more of the magic that is Kambani Romano, check out his Patreon page here)
I think we often have to manage the tension between being continually in an evolving creative process as well as needing to manage expectations- both those that we place on ourselves and in terms of making things work practically (especially if you plan to make a living through your art/craft). It can sometimes feel like you’re the only person experiencing the doubts or slumps. You are not alone (everybody sing along now). We often only ever see the ‘finished’ product of other creatives and don’t often have a window into their creative process, which more than likely also looked like a few moments of panic and questioning and is-this-good-enoughing.
Here are a few things to think about.
You are Creative because you are Created.
You are good enough. Something that I remember from when I was writing my Masters thesis when I studied Music Therapy was when I had to hand in a draft proposal and I was really stressing because I didn’t think it was good enough. At the time, I was doing my masters full time, completing an undergrad in Psychology via correspondence because I didn’t have all the subjects I needed for my Music Therapy degree, working part time and practicing for a big cello performance exam. My dear lecturer looked at my exhausted face and offered a moment of grace when she said, “is this your best for now? With all the other things going on, is this your best?”, I nodded my head and she said “well, then this is good enough”. Something so simple and something that I have carried with me since then.
Your work matters. You add a certain something to the world by creating what you are creating. So, don’t give up. Don’t listen to those lies about your worth and the worth of what you are creating. It is beautiful and it is enough. I saw this umbrella installation in the Athens metro station last year. I loved it. I would never have been able to make an installation piece like this, but I am so glad that someone did because it has continually brought me joy every time I look at this photo.
Encourage yourself. Would you say the things to others that you say to yourself? If the answer is no, then you really shouldn’t be saying them to yourself either. Often we are far harder on ourselves than we would be on anyone else. Be critically constructive, but always constructive. Do you walk away feeling more empowered or less empowered by a particular thought pattern? Chuck those disempowering ones and keep the ones that will enrich you and your work. If you struggle to know the difference, then this is a great time to check in with others who you trust (to read more on finding a community of support, read the last blog here)
Encourage others. I have been on the receiving end of some rather wonderful encouragement this last week. Someone I have never met took the time to e-mail me and tell me how my music had touched her. I tell you what, I felt 10 feet tall. I don’t have to live by people’s praise, but getting a word of encouragement? Man, that feels great! I think we often live in this very insecure space as creatives where we feel that we need to only be critical and rude about other’s work. In my view, there is more than enough space for all of us. Something that I have started doing is letting people know if their work has impacted me in any way. It’s easy to contact people via social media and even if they never respond, that’s totally cool because perhaps they just needed that encouraging word and I don’t really need to know if it impacted them or not.
Here are some things to say to yourself when one of those slumps hit:
- I am Creative because I am Created
- I am valuable
- My work is valuable
- I am enough
You may need to write these up or record yourself saying them and then take a listen. The cool thing is that you are empowered to believe something. You get to choose what thought pattern you empower. If your main narrative is “I’m not good enough/ creative enough/ smart enough/ talented enough” then that is what you will think, feel and where you will act from. If your main narrative is “I am good enough/ creative enough/ smart enough/ talented enough”, then that is what you will think, feel and where you will act from. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you won’t have wobbles and doubts, but they will have far less of a hold on you. You get to choose whether you go up the stairs or down the stairs.
Now, go and be amazing!
As always, we’d love to hear from you. Please comment below and feel free to share a tip with us on how you’ve developed a “I am good enough” narrative in your life as a creative.